Taft forging ahead despite failed contract with LA County

TAFT, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A deal that would send Los Angeles County jail inmates to the Taft Community Correctional Facility unraveled at the last minute when L.A. County supervisors voted to nix the plan.

The deal would have meant up to $75 million for Taft, which would house 512 inmates over a five-year period.

"We had a great contract that was very good for the city of Taft but also very good for L.A. County," said Taft Mayor Paul Linder.

Just last month, L.A. County supervisors voted to approve the deal. But, Supervisor Gloria Molina changed her mind when she learned Taft is involved in ongoing litigation with the state's Department of Corrections.

On Tuesday, supervisors voted 3-2 to cancel the deal. Linder said the city never hid anything from L.A. County.

"Staff at L.A. County level were aware of our lawsuit, understood our lawsuit and said it didn't make any difference to them," said Linder.

Though the negotiations between Taft and its neighbor to the south lasted for more than a year, Linder said the city acted responsibly. The money from the contract with L.A. County would have been a boon for the city.

"We're smart enough not to count our chickens before the eggs are hatched," said the mayor.

But as one door closes, another opens. The city is now in discussion with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to negotiate a contract to have state inmates housed at Taft. The state would pay up to $60 per inmate per day.

A spokesperson for CDRC confirmed talks are under way.