In this longform comic—the first of its kind at The Marshall Project—journalist and illustrator Susie Cagle chronicles how decades-old decisions to hastily build two prisons in Corcoran, an agricultural community in California’s Central Valley, have put 8,000 incarcerated people at risk.

(The excerpted text below is integrated and displayed within illustrations in the story.)

We can be prepared.

That’s a choice the state can make and it is choosing not to.

Emily Harris is Co-Director of Programs at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and advisor on a report on climate hazards facing California prisons.

A lot of the California prisons are located in remote areas, they have aging infrastructure, and a long history of overcrowding.

It’s very clear that people in prison are distinctly vulnerable.

Corrections says it has plans in place to deal with climate emergencies at its facilities.

As the incarceration rate drops, the department says it is prioritizing prisons for closure based on factors mandated by state law.

Those factors do no include environmental hazards or climate change.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.