Located on 275 acres in the northwest corner of California, Pelican Bay State Prison is designed to house the state's most serious criminal offenders in a secure, safe and disciplined institutional setting. The prison opened December 1989 to accommodate a need for a growing population of maximum-security inmates. PBSP has an approximate budget of $115 million and over 1400 employees.
One half of the prison houses maximum-security inmates in a General Population setting. The other half houses maximum-security inmates in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) designed for inmates presenting serious management concerns. The SHU is a modern design for inmates who are difficult management cases, prison gang members and violent maximum custody inmates. PBSP maintains a 296 bed Level I minimum support facility outside the security perimeter of the main institution. The institution also operates two unique programs: the Psychiatric Services Unit, which houses mentally ill inmates who are serving a SHU term, and the Transitional Housing Unit, which is an intensive program designed to reintegrate prison gang members back into a General Population setting.