As of Fiscal Year 2002/2003, COR had a total of 1,703 staff and an annual institutional budget of US$115 million. As of March 2012, the facility's total population was 4,500, or more than of 144.4 percent of its design capacity of 3,116.
– Individual cells, fenced perimeters and armed coverage
Level IV housing: Cells, fenced or walled perimeters, electronic security, more staff and armed officers both inside and outside the installation
Security Housing Units, "the most secure area[s] within a Level IV prison designed to provide maximum coverage". Among these units are the Protective Housing Unit which holds up to 47 prisoners who require "extraordinary protection from other prisoners". The Protective Housing Unit has been described as "strikingly calm" because inmates "don't want to be moved somewhere less guarded". One violent incident occurred in March 1999 when three inmates attacked inmate Juan Corona, inflicting minor injuries, and smashed Charles Manson's guitar. Three other Protective Housing Unit inmates suffered minor injuries.
In March 1993, at Corcoran, prisoner Wayne Jerome Robertson had raped Eddie Dillard, a prisoner about half his size, after the latter was reassigned to his cell. Robertson, who had the nickname "Booty Bandit", testified in 1999 that prison guards set up the attack. Dillard testified in the same trial. After Robinson was assigned to general population at Pelican Bay State Prison, California state senator Tom Hayden stated "It is almost certain that he would be targeted for death."
A front-page article by Mark Arax in the August 1996 Los Angeles Times claimed that COR was "the most troubled of the 32 state prisons". At the time, COR officers had shot and killed more inmates "than any prison in the country" in COR's eight years of existence. Seven inmates had been killed, and 50 others seriously wounded. Based on interviews and documents, Arax concluded that many shootings of prisoners were "not justified" and that in some cases "the wrong inmate was killed by mistake". Furthermore, the article alleged that "officers... and their supervisors staged fights between inmates" during "gladiator days". In November 1996, CBS Evening News broadcast "video footage of an inmate fatally shot by guards" at COR in 1994; this death "spawned a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of alleged inmate abuses by guards".
A March 1997 episode of the CBS News60 Minutes discussed the 1994 death, "the alleged cover-up and the alarming number of shootings at the prison". The California Department of Corrections issued the results of its own investigation in November 1997, which found "isolated incidents of staff misconduct" but no "'widespread staff conspiracy' to abuse prisoners".
A film entitled Maximum Security University, which used prison surveillance tapes showing four 1989–1993 fights "end[ing] when a guard fatally shoots a combatant", was released in February 1998. That month, eight California correctional officers and supervisors were indicted "on federal criminal civil rights charges in connection with inmate fights that occurred at Corcoran State Prison in 1994". After a trial, the eight men were "acquitted of all charges" in June 2000.
As of 1999 California had paid out several large prison brutality settlements for incidents at Corcoran, including $2.2 million to inmate Vincent Tulumis paralyzed for life in a May 1993 shooting, and $825,000 for the killing of Preston Tate in April 1994.
Subsequently, COR has been featured in at least two episodes of MSNBC's Lockup series: "Inside Corcoran" (which first aired as early as 2003) and "Return to Corcoran" (which first aired in 2005).
James R. Mitchell Son of porn king James L Mitchell, who murdered his brother Artie, aka "The Mitchell Brothers" Sentenced in 2011, to 39 to life in the brutal baseball bat murder of his former girlfriend; Danielle Rosa Keller, in Novato, California on July 12, 2009.
Rodney Alcala: the "dating game killer." Sentenced to death in 1980, 1986, and 2010.
Joseph Son: South Korean mixed martial arts fighter, manager, and actor. Currently serving life without the possibility of parole for rape and torture. Was transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison in October 2014.
^ abOffender Information Services Branch (3 January 2013). "Monthly Report of Population"(PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: 2. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
^ abCalifornia State Prison, Corcoran (CSP-COR) (2009). "Mission Statement". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Archived from the original on August 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
^ abcArax, Mark. Tales of Brutality Behind Bars; Five officers claim staging of "gladiator days," other abuses at Corcoran State Prison. FBI is investigating facility, which has most killings of inmates in U.S. Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1996.
^Podger, Pamela J. Video of Fatal Prison Shooting at Corcoran Stirs Controversy. The Fresno Bee, November 20, 1996.
^"60 Minutes" Spotlights Corcoran. "Deadliest Prison" Segment Will Lead Off Sunday's Broadcast. Fresno Bee, March 29, 1997.
^Holding, Reynolds. State Corrections Dept. Clears Itself in Probe of Corcoran Prison. The San Francisco Chronicle, November 27, 1997.
^A Film Aims to Expose Prison Deaths. Private Investigator Hopes Corcoran Footage Stirs Debate, Reform. Fresno Bee, February 16, 1998.
^Juan Corona denied parole for 2nd time. San Diego Union, June 24, 1987.
^ abGrossi, Mark. Corcoran Prison Home to Who's-Who of Killers. The List of Infamous Murderers at the State Facility has Grown This Week to Include Sirhan Sirhan and Juan Corona. The Fresno Bee, June 5, 1992.