AN ASYLUM WITH A CRIMINAL PAST:
In 1915 the California Legislature called for a comprehensive study of the problem of "feeble mindedness." As a result of this study, the Legislature recognized the need for an institution in Southern California and approved $250,000 on July 17, 1917, for the Pacific Colony. The original site was in Walnut.
On March 21, 1918, the first patients were admitted to Pacific Colony with an expected capacity of 50 patients. However, it soon became evident that the site was inappropriate (lack of water, limited access) and the facility closed its doors on January 23, 1919 It took another four months until the new Pacific Colony opened at its location in Pomona and welcomed its first 27 "inmates" (as they were then called). In 1920 director Patrick Haggard, deemed a second, more remote location for inmates considered "potentially violent towards themselves or others" was needed. He opened Pomona's California Colony on the current site of the Fairplex in the Winter of 1920. This facility handled the criminally insane and was originally designed as a measure of restraint and isolation from the rest of society.
The facility was originally described as "A place - isolated from the rest of society - almost a self-sufficient small city unto itself. It was a world apart, isolated by more than just its physical location." However the CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act) investigated the asylum in early 1921 and reports were filed with the State of California about inappropriate care, accidents, unexplained deaths of inmates and staff members, and inefficient medication use...