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Alternative Youth Adventures
Montrose County, Colorado
Community Educational Centers

January 22, 2009 Rocky Mountain News
The mother of a Salt Lake City boy has filed a lawsuit against a Colorado wilderness camp where her son died of a staph infection. The mother, Dawn Boyd Woodson, alleges her son's 2007 death could have been prevented if the staff of Alternative Youth Adventures had heeded medical warning signs. A company attorney says operators of the former camp in Montrose had a stellar reputation until 15-year-old Caleb Jensen's death. Attorney Colleen Scissors says a staph infection is not something that would have been obvious. She is defending West Caldwell, N.J.-based Community Education Centers Inc., AYA's former corporate parent, against criminal charges filed by the Montrose County district attorney over Jensen's death. A trial is set for March.

July 15, 2008 Daily Planet
More than a year has passed since Caleb Jensen died in the mountains near Montrose, in a wilderness camp for troubled kids. Languishing from an untreated staph infection, the 15- year-old collapsed on his sleeping bag one day and never got up. That was May 2007. Yesterday, a Montrose County grand jury indicted the camp, its corporate parent, two camp staffers and a Utah doctor on charges stemming from the boy’s death. They’re charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and child abuse and face up to 12 years in prison. Jensen’s mother, Dawn Woodson, said she’d been waiting for this news in one form or another every since she got a phone call telling her that her son was dead. “I’m glad to hear of it, and that these people have been indicted,” she said in a telephone interview. “But I still have a huge void and nothings ever going to fill it.” The Utah boy spent the last month of his life at Alternative Youth Adventures, a now-defunct youth camp outside Montrose. He was sent there in late March 2007 after getting into trouble and landing in the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services. The camp sought to rehabilitate troubled kids with a menu of long hikes, tough physical exercise, counseling and education. It was an offshoot of Community Education Centers, a New Jersey company that runs programs nationwide for adult prisoners and at-risk kids. But Jensen’s experience became a doomed nightmare. He was prone to staphylococcus infections and developed one after arriving at the camp, investigators said. He complained, and other campers complained on his behalf, but Jensen’s mother said those pleas fell dead to the ground as her son’s skin went gray, his fever spiked and he started hallucinating. Jensen was even isolated for insisting that he felt sick, his mother said. “They were saying he was acting out and lying, and he was being punished the entire time he was sick,” Woodson said. “He was all by himself the whole time. He was dying and he was by himself. He couldn’t talk to anyone the whole time he was sick.” On May 2, 2007, a month after he entered the camp, Jensen died. After the state suspended its license, Community Education Centers shut down the camp permanently in July 2007, “without admission of wrongdoing of any sort,” according to a letter it wrote to the Colorado Attorney General’s office. The case went nearly silent until yesterday’s indictments were announced. Alternative Youth Adventures and Community Education Centers were charged with child abuse resulting in death and criminally negligent homicide, according to the Montrose County district attorney. James Omer, the camp’s program director, and Dr. Keith Hooker, a Utah emergency doctor and wilderness program expert, were also charged with child abuse and criminally negligent homicide. Ben Askins, another camp staffer, was charged with manslaughter and child abuse. The three men could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the Utah hospital that employs Hooker said he remains in good standing on the medical staff, but she said the hospital would investigate the charges. Community Education Centers issued this statement: “CEC stands by its position that at all times the company acted appropriately and that the circumstances that lead to Caleb Jensen’s death, while tragic, were not reasonably foreseeable.” The indictments offered a rare moment of vindication for child-safety advocates. Isabelle Zehnder, who runs the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, said that institutions and employees rarely face criminal charges after children die or suffer abuse in custody. The public agencies and private companies that provide care for troubled kids are often the last resort for parents, social services and judges. Their methods are often meant to be tough, and when things go wrong, agencies say they were simply acting in the name of treatment, Zehnder said. “You don’t know how many cases we have where everybody walks,” she said. “And then to have this — it’s amazing.” Jensen’s mother welcomed the indictments, but said the pain of her son’s death couldn’t be balmed by the justice system. Months pass, things get better, but then she’ll chance upon a children’s book Caleb once loved, and confront a wall of memories and hurt. “I still battle,” she said. “I don’t know how to tell myself, ‘You just have to understand that you’re not going to have Caleb back.’ I want him back so much, it hurts. It’s not easier or better. Somehow we find a way to get through every day.”

July 15, 2008 Montrose Daily Press
More than one year after Caleb Jensen died while under the care of Alternative Youth Adventures, the organization, its parent company and three people have been indicted. Jensen, 15, of Utah, had been placed into the outdoor wilderness therapy program for at-risk youths. He was on an outing in rural Montrose County last May when he developed a staph infection and died. The Colorado human services department said previously the infection produced observable symptoms, which the department accused AYA staff of neglecting. AYA’s parent company, Community Education Centers Inc., said Jensen’s death was tragic and the underlying cause was undetectable. On Tuesday, a Montrose grand jury handed down indictments alleging criminally negligent homicide, child abuse resulting in death, and manslaughter. According to a press release from the district attorney’s office, the indictments name AYA, CEC; Dr. Keith Hooker, and AYA employees James Omer and Ben Askins. The indictments have been sealed for now. “The grand jury was able to reach a decision they felt comfortable with,” District Attorney Myrl Serra said. “Those indictments have been sealed until the summons can go out and those charged have notice of what they’ve been charged with.” Community Education Centers Inc.; AYA; Hooker and Omer were all charged with the felony-3 offense of child abuse resulting in death and the felony-5 offense of criminally negligent homicide. Askins was charged with felony-3 child abuse resulting in death and manslaughter as a class-4 felony. Penalties upon conviction of the charges in the indictments range from one to 12 years in prison, with fines of up to $750,000. All indicted parties are due in court at 9 a.m. Aug. 25. “Community Education Centers stands by its position that at all times, the company acted appropriately and that the circumstances that led to Caleb Jensen’s death, while tragic, were not reasonably foreseeable,” Christopher Greeder, public relations manager for Community Education Centers, said in a written statement. Jensen’s family could not be reached for comment Tuesday. AYA and New Jersey-based Community Education Centers came under investigation by the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services, Colorado Attorney General’s office and the local Seventh Judicial District soon after Jensen’s death. The company consistently denied negligence. AYA’s licenses for residential and therapeutical childcare in Colorado were suspended within a week of Jensen’s death. Initially, Community Education Centers planned to contest suspension, but voluntarily surrendered its licenses last July, as a “business decision,” without admitting wrongdoing. The company at the time also said it’d decided before Jensen’s death to sell the Montrose facility.

May 11, 2007 Denver Post
State health authorities have shut down a wilderness youth camp in Montrose County after a 15-year-old Utah boy died there last week of an untreated staph infection. The Colorado Department of Health and Human Services suspended the license of Alternative Youth Adventures on Wednesday. The 26 at-risk youths in the program were moved from the remote camp in Montrose County to corrections or human service agencies in Grand Junction and Denver on Wednesday and Thursday. "We believe we have reasonable grounds to believe the camp presents a substantial danger to public health, safety and welfare," said Liz McDonough, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. McDonough said she did not know how Caleb Jensen contracted a methicillin- resistant staphylococcus aureus infection. She said he reported symptoms to the adult camp leaders. "We are at a loss to see how this was preventable. ... It was something the staff just could not tell was there," said Bill Palatucci, a spokesman for Community Education Centers Inc., the Roseland, N.J., company that operates the wilderness camp and five other rehabilitation-type programs in Colorado as well as programs in six other states. "From what we know, the staff acted appropriately, in line with their track record." The type of bacterial staph infection Jen- sen died from most commonly occurs in hospitals and usually affects the elderly and very ill or others with compromised immune systems. It most commonly develops in an open wound. In minor cases, the infection causes pimples or boils. In serious cases, the infection can lead to fever, pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and death. Jensen died the afternoon of May 2 in a camp in a remote part of Montrose County just over the Mesa County line. Counselors reportedly tried to revive the boy, who had been at the camp for a month. He was placed in the program for two months by the Utah Division of Juvenile Services. A website for Community Education Centers describes the camp as incorporating "education, conservation practices, work projects in national forests, rigorous physical activity, substance abuse treatment and detailed aftercare planning." Dan Robinson, director of the Grand Mesa Youth Services program in Grand Junction, said his facility has used the camp for years and has not had problems with it. McDonough said her department had previous issues with youths who suffered frostbite at the camp. Last year, six youths walked away from Alternative Youth Adventure camps in Montrose and San Miguel counties. All were eventually located.

May 3, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
A 15-year-old Utah boy died during a backcountry outing with a youth program on the Uncompahgre Plateau of natural causes, authorities said today. The teenager, whose name was not immediately released, was part of Alternative Youth Adventures, a Montrose care facility that treats at- risk juveniles through education, counseling and work projects in national forests. Dr. Rob Kurtzman, chief deputy coroner in Mesa County, said he'll conduct further tests to determine the precise cause of death. "It's sudden and tragic," said Bill Palatucci, senior vice president of Community Education Centers, the parent company of Alternative Youth Adventures. "It may have been a previously undetected underlying medical condition." Palatucci said the boy had been referred to the AYA program by the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services. He declined to release the boy's name, citing federal privacy regulations. The boy died Wednesday afternoon. Authorities received a 911 call about 3 p.m. saying he was not breathing, but the boy was dead by the time rescue personnel reached the remote site southwest of Grand Junction near the Mesa-Montrose county line.

Arapahoe County Treatment Center

June 28, 2013  usnews.nbcnews.com

Two people were injured after a gunman walked into a Colorado halfway house in the early hours of Friday morning and started firing at employees and residents, authorities said. The suspect, Francis Pizzo, 46, is a former resident of the Arapahoe County Treatment Center in northeast Colorado who recently escaped from the facility, said Sheriff's Capt. Larry Etheridge. Deputies responded to a report of a shooting at the facility just after 1:00 a.m. local time on Friday, the sheriff's office said in a statement. The two people wounded in the attack were transported to local hospitals, where they were being treated Friday for "not life-threatening" injuries, according to the statement. The gunman fled the scene of the shooting and authorities are working to track him down, Etheridge said. The halfway house is a contracted community corrections facility for the Colorado State Department of Corrections, according to the statement. The shooting incident occurred just three months after the executive director of that department was shot and killed at his house. Tom Clements, 58, was gunned down outside his front door in Monument, Colo. on March 19, setting off a search for the assailant, later determined to be parolee Evan Ebel. The manhunt came to a dramatic climax after Ebel, who reportedly had ties to white supremacist groups, was killed in a shootout with Texas deputies March 21.

Aurora INS Detention Facility
Aurora, Colorado
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
February 16, 2009 The Aurora Sentinel
About 50 people from various advocacy groups gathered near an Aurora detention facility Monday, Feb. 16, to rally for changes to the nation’s immigration policies and an end to raids on suspected illegal immigrants. The vigil, which was organized by local clergy, was one of more than 100 actions across the country aimed at “demonstrating the faith communities’ commitment to inject humanity and compassion into the public dialogue on immigration,” organizers said in a statement. Jennifer Piper, of the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee, said ending raids was one of the main goals of the vigil. “These raids really tear families and workers out of our community,” Piper said. The vigil brought out a diverse crowd with participants ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. The group clutched candles, said prayers and spoke about their concerns. “All faith traditions share a common mandate to welcome and care for all members of our community and love our neighbors as ourselves,” Jeremy Shaver, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, said in a statement. “As people of faith, we must keep that in the forefront of our minds as we approach the complex issue of immigration.” Organizers said recent immigration raids have been destructive for immigrants’ families and they hope the vigils lead to change in Washington. “We call on President Obama and members of Congress to demonstrate the courage to pass immigration policies that uphold and protect the dignity and human rights of all,” Shaver said. The vigil was held just a few blocks from a privately owned and operated detention facility that houses suspected illegal immigrants. Florida-based GEO Group, which owns the facility, has plans to expand it — a proposal that has come under fire from immigrant groups.

January 8, 2008 Colorado Confidential
A former corrections employee is suing prison contractor The GEO Group, operator of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Aurora. In a suit filed in Denver District Court, former GEO employee Celia Ramirez alleges the company failed to follow its own anti-discrimination policies. According to the suit, filed in December, Ramirez was employed by GEO as a detention officer at the Aurora ICE lockup for just over two years before being fired for failing to return lockup keys to their designated area. However, in the suit Ramirez contends that another GEO worker, Jennifer Beauman, took the keys and placed them on the facility's roof to retaliate against the plaintiff for reporting the employee for inappropriate conduct. According to the suit, Beauman is reported to have engaged in erratic behavior, such as angrily slamming doors and flicking lights on and off in the presence of inmates. Attempts to reach Beauman were unsuccessful. The suit alleges Beauman "joked" about taking the keys to get back at Ramirez, before the keys went missing. A maintenance worker is reported to have later found the keys on the facility's rooftop. The crux of the lawsuit contends that Ramirez was discriminated against for her gender and Latino ethnicity, and that GEO failed to enforce written policies of barring gender or race discrimination as stipulated in the company's employee handbook. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the GEO Group, said that it is the company's corporate policy not to discuss pending litigation. Lisa Sahli, the attorney who filed the suit, said that Ramirez had obtained another attorney and that she could not speak further on the case because she is no longer Ramirez's legal counsel. Attempts to contact Ramirez were also unsuccessful. The suit comes as GEO is set to expand its Aurora ICE facility by more than 1000 beds, tripling the current threshold of 400 beds. Ramirez is seeking to bring the case to a jury, according to court documents.

December 19, 2007 Denver Post
A private company operating the Colorado immigration detention center in Aurora plans to sink $72 million into an expansion that will more than triple the size of the facility based on Senate proposals to expand border enforcement and bed space for illegal-immigrant detainees. The expansion would turn the 400-bed facility into a 1,500-bed center, making it second in size only to the 2,000-bed Raymondville, Texas, site, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Aurora site is in a warehouse area near East 30th Avenue and Peoria Street. The plan by Florida-based GEO Group, which owns and operates the facility, has raised concerns among national and local immigrant- and civil-rights groups and the neighborhood associations in the area. The expansion is expected to be complete in late 2009. A company spokesman did not return numerous calls, but GEO chairman and chief executive George Zoley detailed the plan recently in a call with analysts. GEO estimates the 1,100 new beds will raise an additional $30 million in annual revenue, Zoley said during the call. Opponents of the plan say their concerns are based partly on the lack of access to internal audits of the facility and recent government reviews showing inadequacies. "One of the major issues is that GEO has a really spotty record in running these sorts of facilities," said Chandra Russo, a community organizer for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "Our concern with a private corporation running a prison is that its profits depend on more prisoners. What is the benefit for the community?" Neighbors are also worried about real estate values and environmental impact. ICE denies any connection with the expansion the private company is planning with its own money, said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok. Currently, the ICE contract for the Aurora facility is for 400 beds, but the deal is up for review each year for the next four years. "If they expand the facility, unless they modify the contract, there is nothing to say those additional beds would be used or contracted by ICE," Rusnok said. Still, national and local immigrant groups are concerned about the expansion at the facility, where they say reports and audits have been slow or not publicly released. Several years ago, the National Immigration Law Center asked the courts to demand that ICE release internal reviews of contract facilities and won. But ICE has been lax in providing the most recent two years' worth of reviews, said Karen Tumlin, attorney with NILC. "Until ICE is willing to release all of the reviews, we don't want to see these levels of expansion," she said. In July, the Government Accountability Office found problems at several of the detention centers from May 2006 to May 2007. The GAO did not find extreme cases but noted issues at 16 of 17 ICE centers with phone calls to pro bono legal help. In Aurora, the report also found that hold rooms exceeded capacity and log books were not maintained to show how long people were in rooms or when they had their last meal. In October 2006, reviews found the Aurora site in violation for lack of cleanliness in food service. The report also said the center had portable beds in aisles because of overcrowding. Rusnok said many of the problems identified by the GAO have since been rectified and that ICE has no plans based on the Senate proposal. Zoley, during the call, cited a proposed bill, which provides for additional funding to increase border-patrol agents and increase detention bed space by more than 5,000 beds. "We believe that this increase in bed funding will result in additional opportunities for the private sector," he said. The Department of Homeland Security expects the undocumented population, estimated to be around 12 million, to grow by 400,000 annually. The total number of illegal immigrants in administrative proceedings who spend some time in detention annually increased from 95,702 in 2001 to 283,115 in 2006. Detention bed space increased from 19,702 in 2001 to 27,500 last year. After the first of the year, NILC plans to ask for a moratorium on expansions of these types of facilities until ICE can ensure minimum compliance with its standards, Tumlin said.

July 11, 2007 Government Executive Magazine
In a recent review of federal facilities used to detain suspected illegal immigrants, the Government Accountability Office found a lack of telephone access to be a pervasive problem, potentially preventing detainees from contacting legal counsel, their countries' consulates or complaint hotlines. The GAO review included visits to 23 detention centers housing immigrants awaiting adjudication or deportation. The watchdog agency observed the centers -- run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency within the Homeland Security Department -- for compliance with nonbinding national detention standards. Of the 23 facilities GAO reviewed, 17 had telephone systems allowing detainees to make free phone calls seeking assistance. In 16 of these 17 facilities, however, GAO found systemic problems hindering phone access. Issues ranged from inaccurate or outdated numbers posted by the phones to technical problems preventing completion of calls, the report (GAO-07-875) stated. The review found instances where the centers fell short of standards in other areas, such as medical care, use of force and food services, but said these instances did not necessarily indicate a larger pattern of noncompliance. "While it is true that the only pervasive problem we identified related to the telephone system -- a problem later confirmed by ICE's testing -- we cannot state that the other deficiencies we identified in our visits were isolated," said Richard Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at GAO, in the report. GAO recommended that ICE regularly update the posted numbers for legal services, consulates and reporting violations of detainee treatment standards and test phone systems to ensure that they are in working order. In a response to a draft of the report, Steven Pecinovsky, director of the Homeland Security Department's GAO/Office of the Inspector General Liaison Office, said ICE concurred with its recommendations and had taken immediate steps to implement them. In particular, ICE has started random testing to ensure the phones can access the necessary numbers. While GAO did not find evidence of widespread disregard for national detention standards, there have been recent calls for more oversight of immigrant detention facilities and codification of standards. According to the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration, the fact that the standards are not codified means "their violation does not confer a cause of action in court." On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to codify the standards, expressing concern over the causes of death for the 62 immigrants who have died in ICE custody since 2004. GAO's report cited several instances of noncompliance in the standards for medical care, but almost all were a failure to complete the routine physical exams required for all detainees. The only other issue cited was the failure of one detention center to have a first aid kit available. The ACLU argued there are far more serious medical failures occurring in immigrant detention centers. "Inadequate medical care has led to unnecessary suffering and death," the ACLU said in a statement. "In addition, there is no mechanism in place for reporting deaths in immigration detention to any oversight body, including the [Office of the Inspector General] and, therefore, there are no routine investigations into deaths in ICE custody."

September 27, 2002
Security guards at the Wackenhut INS detention facility in Aurora quelled a disturbance Thursday. The disruption was caused by several detainees during the lunch hour, said Nina Pruneda- Muniz, Denver District spokeswoman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "It got handled in a very timely manner," Pruneda-Muniz said. "We were able to defuse any situation from going any further." Agents were determining how many prisoners were involved and why the confrontation erupted, she said. (Rocky Mountain News)  

Antonito, Colorado
May 17, 2008 Pueblo Chieftain
State Rep. Rafael Gallegos' short political career may be over. In a surprise vote during Friday's local and state assemblies, the two-term Antonito Democrat came just four votes short of winning a place on the August primary ballot. Instead, his Democratic opponent, Rocky White came out on top as the sole person to win that honor. Now, the only way for him or a third Democratic contender, Ed Vigil, to get on the primary ballot in August is by petitioning. What Gallegos plans to do, however, is unknown. He left the Doubletree Hotel in Colorado Springs almost immediately after the vote, and could not be reached for comment. Of the 58 votes cast, White earned 32, Gallegos 14, and Vigil 12. Gallegos and Vigil needed more than 17 to get the minimum 30 percent to make the ballot. Under party rules, he and Vigil have until the end of the month to turn in as many as 1,000 signatures of registered voters in House District 62 to make the primary ballot. That district stretches from Conejos County to parts of Pueblo County. White said Gallegos lost because he was out of touch with what residents of the San Luis Valley district wanted. "They have not been happy with their representation at all," White said. "I think that an elected official needs to be out in the public constantly. You've got to be at public meetings. You have to return phone calls. You've got to return e-mails. You've got to return letters. This is what happens when that doesn't happen." White, who lives on a ranch west of Alamosa, said Gallegos wasn't doing any of that, nor had he gotten much accomplished for the district in his time in the Colorado Legislature.

November 10, 2007 Pueblo Chieftain
State Rep. Rafael Gallegos plans to continue his push for a correctional facility in the Antonito area, despite a recent Conejos County election that showed residents are against the idea. The Antonito Democrat, in keeping with his vow to bring economic development to the San Luis Valley, hopes to meet with Gov. Bill Ritter before the next legislative session and ask for his support in bringing a facility to the area. Earlier this week, Conejos County residents weighed in on whether the town of Antonito should continue its attempts to lure a private correctional facility to the area, with 941 votes against the idea and 437 in favor of it. The Antonito precinct also went against the measure with 94 voting against the idea and 69 for it. Gallegos, who served a stint as the mayor of Antonito before getting elected to the state House in 2004, thinks voters did not get the full picture. "There wasn't enough explanation given of the pros and cons to the folks," Gallegos said. Gallegos said a prison would give the area an economic boost. An 800-bed facility, for example, would bring 250 jobs with good benefits, he said. Opponents of the measure argued before the election that a prison would outstrip the area's services and would lower residential property values near the prison. They also argued that high turnover of staff at private prisons would make the industry unsustainable for the local community. Although supporters of the idea crisscrossed the valley this summer and fall, asking for communities to support a feasibility study for a correctional facility, Gallegos said the projected demand for prison beds - an increase between 6,500 to 8,000 beds by 2011 - is high enough that a study wouldn't be needed. "But if (the governor) wants to do a feasibility study that's fine with me," he said. Although Gallegos will push forward, the other half of the San Luis Valley's delegation at the state capitol, Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, said she's not ready to follow suit. "I would not support him in this effort at this time until I have more information," she said. "It's too soon for me to align myself to that concept." She also cited the Conejos County vote totals as a reason to hold off. "I've heard through this vote this is not what the community wants," she said. "It's not my position to stand in the way of what the community wants." Schwartz, instead, pointed to the start of an economic development assessment for Conejos County that could lay out more options for the area.

November 7, 2007 Alamosa News
Conejos County voted against the formation of a weed control district, against pursuing a private prison in Antonito and against the formation of a county recreation district. The county did vote to “de-Bruce” the Conejos Water Conservancy District to allow for an increase in grant revenue of up to $5 million. If the grant money is received it would go to construction, maintenance and improvement of water facilities, to acquire water rights and other interests in water supplies. Ballot Referendum A would have increased the county mill levy by 2 percent in unincorporated areas of Conejos County to fund a weed control district. The referendum was defeated by a vote of 427 against to 399 in favor. Referendum B, to “de-Bruce” the water conservancy district passed by a vote of 638 in favor to 356 against. Referendum C passed with 122 votes in favor to 81 votes against. However, the results were made moot because the question would only be considered if Referendum A passed. Ref. C would have dissolved the existing Conejos County pest control district. Ballot question A, asking if county voters supported efforts by the town of Antonito to bring a private prison to Conejos County brought a total of 941 votes against the plan to 437 votes in favor. The vote has no force of law as it was taken to measure county opinion on the matter.

Ault Correctional Facility
Ault, Colorado
GEO Group

May 9, 2007 Greeley Tribune
Plans for a private prison in Ault came to a halt recently when Colorado Department of Corrections rescinded its offer to GEO Group. Ault Mayor Brad Bayne said board members haven't discussed the prison for months. "Until there was some sort of guarantee, we'd just rather not talk about it," he said. "There is probably some disappointment from me and a few board members who believe we still could have made it work for the town." Talk of the 1,500-bed medium-security prison proposed last spring has bought some uproar in the town of fewer than 1,500 residents. Some said a prison coming to town would boost the town's economy, but others said it would be too dangerous because of its proximity to the town. The plan was to build on 40 acres in the southeast part of town. Last spring, the GEO Group entered into a tentative agreement with the town -- which approved the prison in concept only -- so it could secure state approval to build there. Months later, the town board passed an ordinance requiring resident approval before any prison could be built. Town officials haven't heard from a GEO Group representative since September, when GEO hosted a public forum answering questions from residents, he said. But DOC Executive Director Ari Zavaras put a stop to all discussions with the private prison contractor. He sent a letter April 24 to representatives of GEO Group, stating they would no longer discuss the plans for the Ault prison or GEO's request for a guaranteed bed count. "We had continued to have a very open and productive conversations with GEO," said Allison Morgan, spokesperson for the DOC. "But we did not agree with a bed guarantee." GEO requested a guarantee on the number of beds that would be filled by prisoners at any given time, since the state pays private prison contractors a daily rate per inmate. Phillip Tidwell, a member of the Citizens Against Ault Prison, said the decision to rescind the DOC offer to GEO Group made him happy. "We're definitely feeling this is a responsible act from both parties," Tidwell said. "The contract should have never been fulfilled by the state because of GEO making the specifications with the state for a guaranteed bed count." In the letter to rescind, Zavaras stated that in June 2006, the DOC offered a contract with GEO Group with the exception to GEO's request for a bed guarantee. On July 7, the DOC asked for GEO group to sign and complete the proposed implementation agreement. After a few meetings, GEO Group still requested a bed guarantee, which the DOC could not grant. The two entities have gone back and forth on the bed guarantee issue since August. According to the letter, Zavaras gave GEO a new deadline of April 2 to sign the Implementation Agreement or provide a reason for not signing in writing to the DOC no later than that date. "It was apparent the Department and GEO could not come to an agreement," Morgan said.

April 18, 2007 Colorado For Ethics
The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) responded to a March 5, 2007, open records request by Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government (CCEG) that sought documents relating to a private prison contract awarded by CDOC to The GEO Group, Inc. The documents obtained by CCEG confirm that former Director of Prisons Nolin Renfrow began working for The GEO Group while still on state payroll, a blatant conflict of interest. In an email to Brian Burnett, the deputy executive director of CDOC, Dave Schouweiler, DOC Manager of Purchasing, stated that Renfrow was on state payroll until January 31, 2006 and acknowledged the “impropriety of Mr. Renfrow’s involvement with the originating procurement.” The CORA request and responsive documents are available on CCEG’s website at www.coloradoforethics.org. CCEG is posting these records as part of its commitment to holding the government responsible for its actions.

March 6, 2007 Greeley Tribune
Saying GEO Group Inc. can't be trusted, a Pueblo lawmaker asked state officials Monday to rescind a contract with the company to build a private prison in Ault. Plans for the prison, which would house 1,500 inmates and would be built east of the railroad tracks along U.S. 85, has stalled on two fronts. Ault leaders decided they would not approve the facility until the public voted on it, and GEO wants to change its contract to ensure payment for its beds. Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, a vocal critic of private prisons, said Monday that the proposed change and other issues regarding GEO's integrity should negate the Ault contract. “Anybody living in Ault should be concerned that a company that would bid this way on a contract might have a business in their town," she said. Philip Tidwell, spokesman for the town group Coalition Against Ault Prison, said residents hope no one else bids on the Ault prison if GEO's contract is rescinded. "We just do not want any private prison, whether it be GEO or Cornell or anyone else," he said. A spokesman for GEO did not return calls seeking comment. McFadyen said the company is attempting to do the same things in Ault that derailed plans for a GEO facility in Pueblo. In 2003, GEO won a contract for a 1,100-bed, pre-parole and parole revocation facility in Pueblo, and after almost four years of delays, the state pulled the contract last fall. The company never broke ground on the facility. "The state of Colorado was held hostage for four years waiting for those beds," McFadyen said. The delays included zoning issues in Pueblo and GEO's attempt to obtain guaranteed payments on 90 percent of its beds, regardless of whether the beds were occupied. That is something state leaders have opposed and which may even be impossible because of state laws, McFadyen said. Now, GEO is trying for guaranteed bed payments in Ault, she said. "You have to question the integrity of the 2006 bid," she said. "If past performance is an indicator, I suspect we will be in the same place we were in 2003 in Pueblo." McFadyen said Ari Zavaras, the new director of the Department of Corrections, told her he is opposed to bed guarantees. Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan told the Associated Press that Zavaras will review McFadyen's request and decide how to respond. The story of Ault's possible prison goes back to late 2005, when Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for the Department of Corrections, started working with GEO on a bid for a private prison. Renfrow is under investigation for using state sick leave to obtain the Ault contract on behalf of GEO. On Monday, Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government, a watchdog group, filed an open records request about the Ault bid. "We do not feel that the public's interest was put forth in the procurement of this contract," said Chantelle Taylor, spokeswoman for the watchdog group. A state audit found Renfrow's business activities "arguably present a conflict of interest and result in a breach of ... the public trust." That breach, coupled with GEO's attempt to change its Pueblo contract by adding the bed-payment guarantee, should have prevented the company from getting the Ault bid in the first place, McFadyen said. Tidwell agreed. "One thing the state should recognize is (GEO) did not operate fairly," he said. "They hired an insider knowing he worked for the state. In my mind, GEO has shown itself to be not a company that operates fairly in the state of Colorado.

March 5, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, and two reform groups today formally requested the director of the Department of Corrections and the governor rescind Geo Group’s bid to build a private prison in Ault. The reasons cited included the company’s performance on a 2003 bid to build a private prison in Pueblo. McFadyen said GEO Group lost its contract to build the Pueblo facility because it delayed the start of construction, then tried to renegotiate its contract to get a guarantee that it would be paid for 90 percent occupancy, even if beds were not filled. "Basically, the state of Colorado was held hostage for four years. They didn’t even break ground," McFadyen said. In her letter to Ari Zavaras, executive director of DOC, she said, "It would appear that the state’s best interests were not served by allowing GEO group to bid any contract with the state because of its lack of performance on tis 2003 award." Officials with Geo Group could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. Alison Morgan, spokeswoman for the DOC, said Zavaras was aware of the letter being sent by McFadyen, but had not seen it Monday. "Since he was not with the department during the RFP (request for proposals) process, it is an issue that he is still studying and is being briefed on," said Morgan. "Once he has all the information, including McFadyen’s letter, he would welcome an opportunity to sit down and talk to her."

January 31, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is taking over the probe of a retired state prison official who stands to be paid $1 million for helping a private prison company win a state bid. Nolin Renfrow, former state prisons director, openly became a consultant to the Geo Group and helped it win a $14 million- per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison proposed in Ault. A state audit said Renfrow began the work for Geo while still on the state payroll. It also said that he is to collect a $1 million fee if the prison is built. State employees are prohibited from providing paid assistance to anyone to win state contracts or economic benefits. State law also prohibits activities that constitute a conflict of interest. Ari Zavaras, who became prisons chief with the new administration several weeks ago, said he asked the CBI to take over the investigation to "overcome the perception that it won't be a thorough investigation." Renfrow said Tuesday, "I understand why he would do that, and I just hope it comes to quick resolution." The Department of Corrections had been investigating. Its report was to have been given to prosecutors if warranted. Zavaras said he is letting the CBI decide whether the probe will become a criminal investigation.

December 26, 2006 Greeley Tribune
After the state Department of Corrections pulled its contract with the GEO Group to build a prison in Pueblo, Ault residents wonder about GEO's proposed prison plans in their backyard. While some speculate that the department's decision to pull the contract will halt the company's plans for Ault, others say it has changed nothing. For Phillip Tidwell, a member of the Citizens Against Ault Prison, the Department of Correction's decision in Pueblo was good news for his own fight. "We are elated ... finally someone will investigate them," he said. "The board is not calling off anything, but to me, like the DOC, why hasn't Ault pulled out on our contract with them? They're not truthful, not honest from the beginning ... Now, we don't feel alone. We will continue our own fight, it just feels like we're being assisted by the DOC." The contract was canceled for the Pueblo prison after concern about Geo's lack of progress on the project. The corrections department said that after four years, the company failed to respond to inquiries from them and failed to break ground on the Pueblo facility. In Ault, the state awarded the GEO Group the right to build a 1,500-bed medium security men's prison on 40 acres in the southeast part of town. Despite the initial discussions, there still are no final decisions on the Ault proposal. Ault Mayor Brad Bayne said the department's decision about the Pueblo facility won't change what's happening in Ault. "The town hasn't changed its views on this," he said. He said for the prison to be built in the town, there has to be a guarantee from the state, a negotiation between the town and the GEO Group that makes sense and a vote of residents to approve the plans. Town officials haven't heard from a GEO Group representative since September when GEO hosted a public forum answering questions from residents, he said. "... We're in a holding pattern until the state guarantees the matter," he added. The plan first came to light at the end of May when the GEO Group gave a proposal to the Ault Town Board. According to meeting minutes, representatives from GEO said the project would be funded through a local government bond, where the state pays the local government, which then pays GEO. They said the facility would house 1,500 beds, but the request for proposal on the project would allow up to 2,250 beds. To fight the project, Citizens Against Ault Prison demanded an injunction on the town's code which will require a vote of residents to decide the fate of the prison. The injunction, which was signed by 297 voters, was approved by board members in November.

December 16, 2006 The Gazette
State prison officials have canceled a contract for a new private prison in Pueblo, a move that casts doubt on how much Colorado will be able to rely on private prisons while it copes with a crowding crisis. The GEO Group, which was awarded a contract in 2003 to build the Pueblo pre-release prison, has also been contracted to build and operate a prison in Ault, in northeastern Colorado. But the same issue that doomed the Pueblo project — the company’s insistence it be guaranteed nearly full occupancy — could derail the latter prison, because GEO is making a similar demand. “If GEO’s going to demand a bed guarantee, they need to leave the state,” said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, a Pueblo Democrat and leading critic of private prisons. “It is not the job of the Colorado taxpayers to ensure profits for this corporation.” The Pueblo prison was delayed repeatedly: by zoning issues, by a legal challenge from a prison-reform group and by several revisions to the plan by GEO. But the final impasse began this summer, when the company asked for a 90 percent minimum occupancy guarantee for the prison, which wasn’t a condition of the original proposal and was opposed by Department of Corrections officials. Private prisons are paid a daily rate per inmate by the state, currently $52. Last month, the DOC denied a contract-extension request, and on Thursday informed the company that it was canceling the contract. “Ground has not broken, and GEO has given no indication when, or even if, it plans to commence construction,” DOC executive director Joe Ortiz wrote. “Our patience cannot be infinite.” The department is facing an acute crowding problem. Years of canceled prison-construction projects and steady growth in court caseloads have created a shortage of prison beds. The DOC this week began shipping 720 inmates out of state, a temporary solution until new beds become available. With only one state prison under construction, Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City, the DOC this year awarded contracts to three companies to build prisons for 3,776 inmates. The GEO Group’s proposed 1,500-bed prison in Ault is a major part of the plan. Alison Morgan, head of private-prison monitoring for the DOC, said the department still expects GEO to follow through on its proposal in Ault. “We are treating the Pueblo facility and the Ault facility separately. We have from Day 1, and we will continue to do so,” Morgan said Friday. However, GEO is making the same demand for guaranteed occupancy for the Ault prison. Asked whether the DOC is still opposed to a guarantee, she said, “It is a policy decision to be addressed by the new administration (of Gov.-elect Bill Ritter) and the General Assembly.” The local community isn’t even sure it wants a prison. Ault’s town board last month passed an ordinance requiring voter approval for the prison. No election date has been set. McFadyen said she doesn’t believe GEO ever intended to complete the Pueblo prison, and she doubts the company’s ability and will to follow through in Ault. “We’ve been set back three years in our planning,” McFadyen said. “I think that kind of delay is unacceptable, and we’ll learn from this experience and not allow another contract to drag on for three years.” A call to a spokesman in the company’s Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters was not returned Friday afternoon. An audit requested by Mc-Fadyen regarding the bidding process for the Ault prison was released this week. It showed that a top DOC official set up a consulting business to help GEO win the bid while he was employed by the state. Because the DOC is based in Colorado Springs, the office of 4th Judicial District Attorney John Newsome will receive the results of the investigation and determine whether any law was broken. Morgan said the DOC will issue a new request for proposals for a pre-release prison.

December 14, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A three-year effort to build a private prison facility at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park appears to be dead after the Colorado Department of Corrections and the prison company reached an impasse over guaranteed occupancies. On Tuesday, reports said that the DOC was working with the attorney general's office to draft a letter to the GEO Group that essentially kills the company's plans to build a 1,000-bed pre-parole and parole revocation facility on 36 acres east of the city. GEO officials said Wednesday they had not received any letter from the DOC, but also didn't express much confidence a deal could be struck for the facility. "We have been in negotiations with the Department of Corrections, but we don't have any contract signed and at this time it does not appear there will be one," said Pablo Paez, director of communications for the Florida-based company. Paez confirmed reports from November that the company was asking for a minimum occupancy guarantee for the facility and also confirmed that the company was planning to go to the city of Pueblo for help to build the prison. ± PLEASE SEE PRISON, 2APRISON / continued from page 1A ± "We needed the guarantee to secure the lowest capital cost through tax-exempt bonds," Paez said Thursday. "We would get those through the local municipality." State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who has been a vocal critic of the private prison industry, and state Rep. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, wrote a letter to the city in May warning against using public funds to build the facility. "I think it's very positive that the city of Pueblo is not going to risk its credit rating on this project," McFadyen said Wednesday. Officials from the DOC were not available Wednesday to comment on whether the letter had to do with the occupancy guarantees, or the result of an audit suggesting former Director of Prisons Nolin Renfrow may have broken the law by helping GEO secure DOC approval to build a 1,500-bed facility in Weld County, prior to his retirement in January. Paez said GEO had no contact with Renfrow before March. Last month, DOC spokeswoman Kathy Church told The Pueblo Chieftain that talks between the company and the DOC over Pueblo's facility had stalled over the minimum occupancy guarantees and had reached a critical point. "They need to either understand our position and accept it or back out completely," Church said last month. Church told The Chieftain that the DOC couldn't make any guarantees without knowing how much money it had to spend. That money depends on what the joint budget committee decides. McFadyen wondered Wednesday why those guarantees weren't part of the original agreement when DOC solicited bids for the Pueblo project. "If the DOC negotiated additional terms with GEO, they would be the only private prison company to receive such treatment and that's wrong," McFadyen said Wednesday. "I think this goes to the point of how committed they were to coming to Pueblo in the first place." The plans to build the facility started in 2003 when GEO, then Wakenhut Corrections Company, proposed building the prison on the West Side. Those plans eventually shifted to the airport and the city approved a controversial agreement with GEO to build a 500- to 1,000-bed facility. A year ago, GEO bought the property at the airport from the city for $296,800. GEO's original plan was to build a 750-bed facility at the airport, but got Planning and Zoning Approval in May to expand the facility to 1,000 beds.

December 14, 2006 Denver Post
Results of an investigation into former Colorado prisons director Nolin Renfrow's conduct in office will be turned over to a district attorney early next year, the Department of Corrections' inspector general said Wednesday. Michael Rulo, who has been the agency's inspector general for seven years, said his office has been cooperating with state auditors on the probe. On Tuesday, the auditors announced that a "former senior- level official" of the Department of Corrections launched a prison-consulting business in August 2005, five months before he retired from the department Jan. 31, and helped a private company land a state prison contract. State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who requested the audit, identified the official as Renfrow. The auditors found that while still employed by DOC, Renfrow began working to assist prospective bidders in developing proposals to his department for a private prison. With his assistance, a company identified as the GEO Group was awarded the contract for a 1,500-bed private prison at Ault. Auditors noted that state employees are barred by law from outside employment that creates a conflict of interest, and from helping people to win a contract with their agency for a fee. Renfrow couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. Rulo said the results of his office's investigation will be turned over to El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome, probably in January. The Department of Corrections is based in that county. Rulo said a decision on whether to file charges will be a "collaborative process" with prosecutors. Kristen Holtzman, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said that Renfrow never contacted the attorney general's office to ask whether his consulting business while still a DOC employee constituted a conflict of interest.

December 13, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A former top official for the Colorado Department of Corrections may have broken the law when he helped a private prison company win a state contract earlier this year, an audit revealed Tuesday. Though the report conducted by the state auditor doesn't name him, the audit centered on Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for DOC. It even calls on the department's inspector general to further investigate the matter and, if warranted, refer it for possible prosecution. The audit, which was requested by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, showed that before Renfrow retired in January, he had been working with a Florida-based private prison company, GEO Group, to land a DOC contract to build a 1,500-bed prison in Weld County. That project is expected to cost an estimated $100 million, for which Renfrow was to get a 1 percent fee - or $1 million - for helping Weld County get the contract, the audit said. In 2003, GEO, which is based in Baca Raton, Fla., was awarded a contract to build a 500-bed, prerelease prison near Pueblo Memorial Airport, which still hasn't been built. Renfrow's replacement, Gary Golder, says the department currently is working with the Attorney General's Office on a letter to GEO that effectively would revoke the 2003 bid and end the Pueblo project. Though the audit did not find any evidence that Renfrow disclosed confidential information to GEO to help it win the Weld County bid, he may have violated state laws, personnel rules and department regulations regarding outside employment, the audit said. Neither Renfrow nor GEO officials were available for comment. The audit found that prior to Renfrow's retirement on Jan. 31, he filed articles of incorporation for a private prison consulting firm, Patriot Business Solutions, in August 2005. "Public records and interviews indicate that the former employee began actively working on behalf of his prison consulting business as of November 2005," the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided documentation showing that the employee requested or the department approved the former employee's outside employment." The contract was awarded to GEO in June, along with a separate contract to Corrections Corporation of America to expand two of its existing private prisons - in Bent and Kit Carson counties - by 720 beds. DOC time sheets also showed that Renfrow "used a combination of annual, sick and holiday leave" to remain on extended paid leave from November 2005 until his retirement date, the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided evidence that (Renfrow) received the express consent of his attending physician or appointing authority to engage in outside work activities," the audit said. "As a result, we question the former employee's use of about 240 hours of paid sick leave benefits valued at about $14,000." McFadyen began to question Renfrow's involvement immediately after GEO won the contract. The Pueblo West lawmaker, a longtime critic of private prisons, questioned why such a company would be awarded a new bid before it had made any progress on the Pueblo prison. McFadyen also questioned why the department was even considering a GEO request, which was made after winning the bid, to give it a written guarantee that the new beds would be filled, something the state has never provided to any of the five other existing private prisons in the state. "I am still questioning the Colorado Department of Corrections as to why GEO was allowed to bid another (project) when they have not performed on the original 2003 project," McFadyen said. "GEO Corporation is demanding that the state issue a mandatory guarantee of filling beds. It is not the responsibility of Colorado taxpayers to ensure the profits of this corporation. "There's no question that we're being held hostage by GEO Group when other (private prison) vendors probably would like to come in and bid those contracts," she added.

November 15, 2006 Greeley Tribune
The Ault Town Board eased many residents' minds Tuesday night and gave them a stronger voice in the prison debate. Town residents have voiced strong opinions against the proposed GEO correctional facility in Ault after initial discussions last spring. Tuesday night, the town board voted 5-1 to accept an ordinance that requires a town election about the location of any prison or similar incarceration facility. An election date has not been set, but one will be necessary when the GEO Group Inc. returns to the town to begin negotiating a contract. GEO has proposed building a 1,500-bed medium security prison on about 40 acres in southeast Ault. The prison population would double the town's population. Most recently, the GEO group sought assurances from the state Department of Corrections for a guaranteed number of prisoners to house at the prison, but DOC representatives said the state typically didn't provide such guarantees. Residents recently signed a petition requesting an election about a site before the town approved permits for such a building. Petitioners needed a minimum of 40 valid signatures to take the request to the board. They submitted 297. Mary Schlack, 37, of Ault said she was part of the petition effort after she went door-to-door and learned more people were opposed to the prison. She said she expected more than 40 signatures because of her previous questions to residents.

September 29, 2006 Greeley Tribune
Al Nickel was one of a few passionate people who attended a question-and-answer session Thursday about a proposed private prison in his town. He was more concerned about the possible safety risks of having a prison nearby than the potential for increased revenue. "What are they going to do for the town?" asked Nickel, a 21-year resident of the town 11 miles north of Greeley on U.S. 85. "It's not like they can go downtown and buy 100 gallons of milk or toilet paper. Their business has to go elsewhere." Representatives from The GEO Group, Place Properties and Patriot Business Solutions met with about 20 residents Thursday afternoon at the Ault VFW post to discuss the plans of bringing a prison to town. The group held a separate meeting Thursday night, drawing about 40 people. Many people were curious about what the prison would look like and had concerns about Ault being considered a prison town. Ken Fortier, a spokesman for GEO Group, said he hoped to ease some concerns at the sessions. "There's a lot of emotions when it comes to a project like this and the perception of a correctional facility," he said. "We're not here to debate, but to answer questions."

September 10, 2006 Greeley Tribune
Two months ago, the state awarded the Geo Group the right to build a 1,500-bed medium security men's prison in Ault, but so far, progress has been slight. A town meeting in July lured about 300 in protest. Opponents worry about prison breaks, the caliber of employees and the potential for a prison to attract criminals. Proponents of the prison say their dying town needs development, and a prison is a clean industry that would bring commerce and jobs. The prison would be located on roughly 40 acres in the southeast part of town, east of the railroad tracks parallel to U.S. 85. Since the initial discussions, however, there are still no decisions. The Geo Group has not presented the town with a potential contract, and the town board has yet to decide if a contract with the private prison would have to be approved by the board or the residents. Those involved, however, insist there is progress but won't elaborate.

July 22, 2006 Greeley Tribune
It may be a month or more before residents know if the town of Ault will be home to a 1,500-bed private prison. Ault Mayor James Fladung said the town board has not decided if it will sign a binding contract with Geo Group Inc. or if it will allow Ault residents to vote on the proposed medium-security prison for men. Colorado's Department of Corrections recently granted Geo the rights to build a prison in Ault in the next two years. But Geo cannot actually build the facility until it gets approval from the town. The board is negotiating with Geo over prices and fees on issues such as water and sewer. A final contract for the prison still needs to be written. "There is quite a bit of distance to cover yet," said Sharon Sullivan, Ault town clerk and treasurer. "It will continue to be ongoing, but there is a long way to go." Fladung said it could possibly be a month before any decision is made. The town board has the authority to approve a contract without a vote from Ault residents because the land where the prison would be located is zoned industrial, Fladung said. But the mayor said that because of public sentiment the board will consider conducting a poll or even allow a public vote on the issue. Nearly 300 people attended a public hearing last Tuesday. The majority of those people opposed the prison. Fladung said he thought it would be good to hold more public hearings before any contract is signed. "We must listen to the people. They were the ones who elected us," Fladung said. In late June the town board unanimously passed a resolution approving the concept of a private prison in Ault. Sullivan said that resolution confused many people and led them to believe that the town board already signed a contract with Geo. The logistics and time frame of a contract still aren't clear, but Fladung said he can guarantee that the contract will not raise any taxes or utility fees for Ault residents. "I'm standing pretty solid about the people in Ault not paying them a penny more for them to come in," Fladung said.

July 19, 2006 Greeley Tribune
Debate over whether to allow a men's medium security prison to be built in Ault has divided the normally quiet community. Almost 300 Ault residents overwhelmed Tuesday night's town board meeting to discuss the pros and cons of allowing the Florida-based company Geo Group Inc. to build a 1,500 bed private prison in Ault. So many people showed up that the meeting had to be delayed half an hour to move the meeting to the larger VFW building. The issue pitted neighbor against neighbor with strong opinions and statements made by nearly 50 people on both sides of the issue. "Geo is like Wal-Mart. They could care less about this town," said John Jablonski of Ault. "They want to use us to make money." The majority of the crowd was strongly against the prison but faced opposition from a vocal minority of Ault's business owners. They believe the prison will be the economic boost Ault's dwindling economy needs to survive. Sheila Kelsey, owner of the House of Bargains, has lived in Ault for 34 years and said that during all that time little economic growth has occurred. "The prison would be in my front yard, but we desperately need the business," Kelsey said. "If we do not get this business, this town will die. It will be a ghost town." Many of those against the prison did not like its close proximity to town and called it a safety hazard, a drain on resources such as water and an overall detriment to the well-being of Ault. Amber Kauffman, who has lived in the town for five years, said she is all for growth but not at the expense of having to live near a prison. "We came here to live in a small town and a small community," Kauffman said. "A prison would change the dynamics of this town." Her husband, Ty Kauffman, said that if the prison does go in, the company wants to run water and sewer lines across his fields which would hurt his annual hay crop. Ty Kauffman said that if the prison does come to Ault, he will be out of town in two weeks. "You do so much to your home to loose it all," he said. "It's a nightmare." Ken Fortier, a representative from Geo, said the prison would bring jobs and purchasing power to Ault. He said that Geo is the largest private corrections facility company in the world and operates high and medium security prisons on many continents including the world's largest private prison in South Africa and a facility that is part of the Guantanamo Bay complex in Cuba. "Step away from the emotions to the notion of what economically 300 jobs mean to the town of Ault," Fortier said. There was still a lot of questions left in the air on Tuesday. Board members did not tell the crowd when, or if, they would sign a contract with the company.

July 18, 2006 Greeley Tribune
Controversy is brewing in Ault about the proposed men's prison expected to be built southeast of town by the Florida-based Geo Group Inc. The Coalition Against the Ault Prison, comprised of 10 residents, will attend tonight's Ault town board meeting to oppose the 1,500-bed prison. The residents have passed out fliers and petitions against Colorado's Department of Corrections late June decision to grant Geo the rights to construct the prison there in the next two years. If the town board signs a contract with the Geo Group, the number of prisoners would more than double this town of roughly 1,400 people. Tasha Greene, 35, an environmental health and safety officer in Ault began the opposition group about a week ago and said the members extensively researched the economic and social impacts a prison might have on a small town. Greene said she collected 117 signatures of registered Ault voters who are opposed to the prison. "There are a few people we talked to that want this prison 100 percent, but the fast majority are dead set against it," Greene said. Though Ault residents have an hour to present comments at tonight's meeting, Greene said she is unsure if the board will take her group's concerns to heart. "We get a sense that they will do what they want to do," Greene said. "Who cares about public opinion?" The board in May passed a resolution agreeing with the prison in concept. The resolution states that prior to the board executing a contract or any financing agreements with the Geo Group, "the final forms of such documents and/or agreement shall be submitted for approval to the town, and if satisfactory to the town, their execution shall be authorized by resolution or ordinance ..." If the board ignores their concerns, Greene said she plans to pursue formal legal action against the prison's construction. Larry Hosier, another member of the coalition, said he thinks the town board is completely out of touch with the people of Ault and not smart enough to properly negotiate with Geo's high-powered executives. "They don't even know the right questions to ask," Hosier said. The group is concerned the prison will make the town unsafe, overtax the already low water supply in the area, create light and air pollution, lower property values, create a higher unemployment rate, bankrupt small businesses and ruin the character and aesthetics of Ault. "Ault will no longer be 'A Unique Little Town," one of the coalition's flyer's proclaims. "Once a prison town always a prison town." Some residents are so concerned about the negative effects they claim they will actually move out of Ault. "I had one guy sign the petition. The next day his home went up for sale," Hosier said, adding that and his wife may consider doing the same after living in town for more than 30 years. Greene is equally convinced that Ault isn't big enough for both her and the prison, and said she would find a new home for her nine horses. She said she is most concerned about safety and the possibility that escaped convicts could put the community in danger. "I'd feel I'll need to put up really tall fences and buy really big dogs and make myself a private arsenal," Greene said.

Aurora INS Detention Facility
Aurora, Colorado
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
February 16, 2009 The Aurora Sentinel
About 50 people from various advocacy groups gathered near an Aurora detention facility Monday, Feb. 16, to rally for changes to the nation’s immigration policies and an end to raids on suspected illegal immigrants. The vigil, which was organized by local clergy, was one of more than 100 actions across the country aimed at “demonstrating the faith communities’ commitment to inject humanity and compassion into the public dialogue on immigration,” organizers said in a statement. Jennifer Piper, of the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee, said ending raids was one of the main goals of the vigil. “These raids really tear families and workers out of our community,” Piper said. The vigil brought out a diverse crowd with participants ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. The group clutched candles, said prayers and spoke about their concerns. “All faith traditions share a common mandate to welcome and care for all members of our community and love our neighbors as ourselves,” Jeremy Shaver, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, said in a statement. “As people of faith, we must keep that in the forefront of our minds as we approach the complex issue of immigration.” Organizers said recent immigration raids have been destructive for immigrants’ families and they hope the vigils lead to change in Washington. “We call on President Obama and members of Congress to demonstrate the courage to pass immigration policies that uphold and protect the dignity and human rights of all,” Shaver said. The vigil was held just a few blocks from a privately owned and operated detention facility that houses suspected illegal immigrants. Florida-based GEO Group, which owns the facility, has plans to expand it — a proposal that has come under fire from immigrant groups.

January 8, 2008 Colorado Confidential
A former corrections employee is suing prison contractor The GEO Group, operator of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Aurora. In a suit filed in Denver District Court, former GEO employee Celia Ramirez alleges the company failed to follow its own anti-discrimination policies. According to the suit, filed in December, Ramirez was employed by GEO as a detention officer at the Aurora ICE lockup for just over two years before being fired for failing to return lockup keys to their designated area. However, in the suit Ramirez contends that another GEO worker, Jennifer Beauman, took the keys and placed them on the facility's roof to retaliate against the plaintiff for reporting the employee for inappropriate conduct. According to the suit, Beauman is reported to have engaged in erratic behavior, such as angrily slamming doors and flicking lights on and off in the presence of inmates. Attempts to reach Beauman were unsuccessful. The suit alleges Beauman "joked" about taking the keys to get back at Ramirez, before the keys went missing. A maintenance worker is reported to have later found the keys on the facility's rooftop. The crux of the lawsuit contends that Ramirez was discriminated against for her gender and Latino ethnicity, and that GEO failed to enforce written policies of barring gender or race discrimination as stipulated in the company's employee handbook. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the GEO Group, said that it is the company's corporate policy not to discuss pending litigation. Lisa Sahli, the attorney who filed the suit, said that Ramirez had obtained another attorney and that she could not speak further on the case because she is no longer Ramirez's legal counsel. Attempts to contact Ramirez were also unsuccessful. The suit comes as GEO is set to expand its Aurora ICE facility by more than 1000 beds, tripling the current threshold of 400 beds. Ramirez is seeking to bring the case to a jury, according to court documents.

December 19, 2007 Denver Post
A private company operating the Colorado immigration detention center in Aurora plans to sink $72 million into an expansion that will more than triple the size of the facility based on Senate proposals to expand border enforcement and bed space for illegal-immigrant detainees. The expansion would turn the 400-bed facility into a 1,500-bed center, making it second in size only to the 2,000-bed Raymondville, Texas, site, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Aurora site is in a warehouse area near East 30th Avenue and Peoria Street. The plan by Florida-based GEO Group, which owns and operates the facility, has raised concerns among national and local immigrant- and civil-rights groups and the neighborhood associations in the area. The expansion is expected to be complete in late 2009. A company spokesman did not return numerous calls, but GEO chairman and chief executive George Zoley detailed the plan recently in a call with analysts. GEO estimates the 1,100 new beds will raise an additional $30 million in annual revenue, Zoley said during the call. Opponents of the plan say their concerns are based partly on the lack of access to internal audits of the facility and recent government reviews showing inadequacies. "One of the major issues is that GEO has a really spotty record in running these sorts of facilities," said Chandra Russo, a community organizer for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "Our concern with a private corporation running a prison is that its profits depend on more prisoners. What is the benefit for the community?" Neighbors are also worried about real estate values and environmental impact. ICE denies any connection with the expansion the private company is planning with its own money, said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok. Currently, the ICE contract for the Aurora facility is for 400 beds, but the deal is up for review each year for the next four years. "If they expand the facility, unless they modify the contract, there is nothing to say those additional beds would be used or contracted by ICE," Rusnok said. Still, national and local immigrant groups are concerned about the expansion at the facility, where they say reports and audits have been slow or not publicly released. Several years ago, the National Immigration Law Center asked the courts to demand that ICE release internal reviews of contract facilities and won. But ICE has been lax in providing the most recent two years' worth of reviews, said Karen Tumlin, attorney with NILC. "Until ICE is willing to release all of the reviews, we don't want to see these levels of expansion," she said. In July, the Government Accountability Office found problems at several of the detention centers from May 2006 to May 2007. The GAO did not find extreme cases but noted issues at 16 of 17 ICE centers with phone calls to pro bono legal help. In Aurora, the report also found that hold rooms exceeded capacity and log books were not maintained to show how long people were in rooms or when they had their last meal. In October 2006, reviews found the Aurora site in violation for lack of cleanliness in food service. The report also said the center had portable beds in aisles because of overcrowding. Rusnok said many of the problems identified by the GAO have since been rectified and that ICE has no plans based on the Senate proposal. Zoley, during the call, cited a proposed bill, which provides for additional funding to increase border-patrol agents and increase detention bed space by more than 5,000 beds. "We believe that this increase in bed funding will result in additional opportunities for the private sector," he said. The Department of Homeland Security expects the undocumented population, estimated to be around 12 million, to grow by 400,000 annually. The total number of illegal immigrants in administrative proceedings who spend some time in detention annually increased from 95,702 in 2001 to 283,115 in 2006. Detention bed space increased from 19,702 in 2001 to 27,500 last year. After the first of the year, NILC plans to ask for a moratorium on expansions of these types of facilities until ICE can ensure minimum compliance with its standards, Tumlin said.

July 11, 2007 Government Executive Magazine
In a recent review of federal facilities used to detain suspected illegal immigrants, the Government Accountability Office found a lack of telephone access to be a pervasive problem, potentially preventing detainees from contacting legal counsel, their countries' consulates or complaint hotlines. The GAO review included visits to 23 detention centers housing immigrants awaiting adjudication or deportation. The watchdog agency observed the centers -- run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency within the Homeland Security Department -- for compliance with nonbinding national detention standards. Of the 23 facilities GAO reviewed, 17 had telephone systems allowing detainees to make free phone calls seeking assistance. In 16 of these 17 facilities, however, GAO found systemic problems hindering phone access. Issues ranged from inaccurate or outdated numbers posted by the phones to technical problems preventing completion of calls, the report (GAO-07-875) stated. The review found instances where the centers fell short of standards in other areas, such as medical care, use of force and food services, but said these instances did not necessarily indicate a larger pattern of noncompliance. "While it is true that the only pervasive problem we identified related to the telephone system -- a problem later confirmed by ICE's testing -- we cannot state that the other deficiencies we identified in our visits were isolated," said Richard Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at GAO, in the report. GAO recommended that ICE regularly update the posted numbers for legal services, consulates and reporting violations of detainee treatment standards and test phone systems to ensure that they are in working order. In a response to a draft of the report, Steven Pecinovsky, director of the Homeland Security Department's GAO/Office of the Inspector General Liaison Office, said ICE concurred with its recommendations and had taken immediate steps to implement them. In particular, ICE has started random testing to ensure the phones can access the necessary numbers. While GAO did not find evidence of widespread disregard for national detention standards, there have been recent calls for more oversight of immigrant detention facilities and codification of standards. According to the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration, the fact that the standards are not codified means "their violation does not confer a cause of action in court." On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to codify the standards, expressing concern over the causes of death for the 62 immigrants who have died in ICE custody since 2004. GAO's report cited several instances of noncompliance in the standards for medical care, but almost all were a failure to complete the routine physical exams required for all detainees. The only other issue cited was the failure of one detention center to have a first aid kit available. The ACLU argued there are far more serious medical failures occurring in immigrant detention centers. "Inadequate medical care has led to unnecessary suffering and death," the ACLU said in a statement. "In addition, there is no mechanism in place for reporting deaths in immigration detention to any oversight body, including the [Office of the Inspector General] and, therefore, there are no routine investigations into deaths in ICE custody."

September 27, 2002
Security guards at the Wackenhut INS detention facility in Aurora quelled a disturbance Thursday. The disruption was caused by several detainees during the lunch hour, said Nina Pruneda- Muniz, Denver District spokeswoman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "It got handled in a very timely manner," Pruneda-Muniz said. "We were able to defuse any situation from going any further." Agents were determining how many prisoners were involved and why the confrontation erupted, she said. (Rocky Mountain News)

Aurora Facility
Aurora Colorado
Wackenhut (Group 4)

June 9, 2010 Department of Labor Press Release
The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has announced that The Wackenhut Corp., doing business as G4S Wackenhut, has entered into a consent decree to settle findings of hiring discrimination at its Aurora, Colo., facility. The consent decree settles OFCCP's allegations that Wackenhut engaged in hiring discrimination against 446 rejected African-American applicants for the position of traditional security officer for a two-year period. Wackenhut is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. "The department is committed to ensuring that federal contractors and subcontractors hire, promote and compensate their employees fairly, without respect to their race, gender, ethnicity, disability, religion or veteran status," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of OFCCP, who is based in Washington, D.C. "This settlement of $290,000 in back pay on behalf of 446 African-Americans should put all federal contractors on notice that the Labor Department is serious about eliminating systemic discrimination." OFCCP investigators found that the company engaged in hiring discrimination against African-Americans from Jan. 1, 2002, through Dec. 31, 2003. Under the terms of the consent decree and order, filed with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges, Wackenhut will pay a total of $290,000 in back pay and interest to the 446 rejected African-American applicants and will hire 41 of the applicants into traditional security officer positions. The company also agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law and will immediately correct any discriminatory practice. In addition, Wackenhut will ensure compliance with Executive Order 11246 recordkeeping requirements. "We strongly encourage other employers to take proactive steps to come into compliance with the law to prevent workplace discrimination," said Melissa Speer, OFCCP acting director of OFCCP's Southwest and Rocky Mountain Regions, who is located in Dallas.

Bent County Correctional Facility
Bent County, Colorado
CCA
Aug 21, 2013 The Pueblo Chieftan

DENVER — The mother of an inmate who died at the Bent County prison claims a Pueblo West physician and the company that runs the prison bear responsibility for the death. oTNCMS_Ad.show('ros'); The physician, David Oba, received a letter of admonition in December from the Colorado Medical Board telling him that his treatment of the inmate “fell below the generally accepted standards of practice.” Oba and the company, Corrections Corporation of America, deny the allegations made in a lawsuit against them by Terrell Griswold’s mother. He died in 2010 at the Bent County Correctional Facility where Oba was a physician for the privately operated prison. Prison staff and Colorado Department of Corrections employees are additional defendants who also deny the allegations. The lawsuit is in its early stage in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit alleges that Griswold, 25, died because he was denied adequate medical care at the prison. It also alleges DOC employees destroyed and falsified evidence, and conspired with prison staff to cover up the true cause of his death. His mother, Lagalia Afola, contends he died from complications of a complete urinary obstruction. Oba began treating Griswold for urinary issues months before he died. Afola alleges, among other things, that prison staff refused for many months to provide medicine Oba prescribed for her son and the doctor did nothing about it. Corrections Corporation, prison employees and Oba contend Griswold died of cardiovascular disease. The medical board’s admonition of Oba stated he “failed to recognize and take appropriate action in connection with signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease.” - See more at: http://www.chieftain.com/home/1758744-120/prison-oba-died-death#sthash.RSGC1KcB.dpuf

 

February 14, 2013 chieftain.com

A Pueblo West physician has received a letter of admonition from the Colorado Medical Board following the Oct. 28, 2010, death of an inmate at Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas. In a letter obtained by The Pueblo Chieftain from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, a medical board panel issued the admonition to Dr. David Oba on Dec. 6 in connection with his treatment of Terrell Griswold, 25, an inmate at the private Corrections Corporation of America-run prison. The letter said Griswold had a history of urinary problems and poorly controlled hypertension. Griswold had complained of difficulty passing urine for the previous two months when he first was treated by Oba in December 2009. After examining Griswold, Oba prescribed a 30-day course of antibiotics. Eight months later, Griswold went to see nursing staff at the prison on the evening of Oct. 22, 2010, complaining of abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, tingling in his extremities and a feeling that his throat was closing. He also reported an odd smell in his nose similar to ammonia, according to the letter.

September 12, 2012 AP
The mother of a man who died in a private prison claims that officials failed to provide adequate medical care. Twenty-six-year-old Terrell Griswold died in October 2010 after being found not breathing in his cell. He was incarcerated at the Bent County Correctional Facility near Las Animas, Colo., which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court by Lagalia Afola of Kansas City, Mo., alleges that officials failed to treat her son for an obstructed urinary tract. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages. Griswold was serving five years for a felony burglary conviction. In a statement, CCA says the company is committed to providing inmates appropriate access to medical care and couldn't comment on individual inmates because of medical privacy laws.

July 9, 2012 Bent County Democrat
Bent County Commissioners met on June 27 and heard an encouraging report from Bent County Correctional Facility, a private prison prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. Even though 18 staff have been recently laid off, population of the prison has increased to 1,388 which is almost 300 more prisoners in prison population. Commissioner Bill Long said he felt that Gov. Hickenlooper and the state recognize the falling economy and past damage to Bent County by the closing of Fort Lyon and are striving to push for CCA to be operating at a higher population level. CCA administration also feels the prison can be operated safely with this reduction in staff. Long said that after the Crowley County prison riot six years ago, the private prisons were required to increase staffing within their prisons. But over this same time frame, the per diem per prisoner had not increased a significant amount, but costs to operate the prison have risen and this reduction in staff will help run the prison more economically but still within a safe range. Long said he has been to the state capitol many times and Bent has also hired a lobbyist to work for Bent County and he feels the state leaders have heard this message.

June 15, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Still reeling from the Colorado Department of Corrections’ closing of Fort Lyon prison, residents here got word of more prison layoffs, this time at the private Bent County Correctional Facility. According to Steve Owen, public affairs officer with the Corrections Corporation of America, the company laid off 18 employees at its Bent County Correctional Facility and another 36 employees at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. "Our top priority is assisting our affected employees through this transition. All of them are being offered the opportunity to transfer to other CCA facilities and we hope that they choose that option," Owen said. Bent County Commissioner Lynden Gill said he had heard “rumblings” about layoffs at the CCA-operated Bent County Correctional Facility.

April 4, 2012 The Chieftain
A report last week that Corrections Corporation of America needs a subsidy from the state or it will start shedding jobs has caught the attention of officials in Bent and Crowley counties. Las Animas is home to the Bent County Correctional Facility, the city's largest employer at 280 employees. Las Animas County Commissioner Bill Long said Tuesday that if CCA decided to cut jobs or shut down the prison it would cripple the county. "It would be an absolute disaster for Bent County," Long said. "To first lose the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility, which used to be our largest employer, and then possibly this, it just can't be described as anything other than awful." Long said that in addition to the correctional facility being the county's largest employer, it also is its largest taxpayer at around $400,000 annually. He added that the prison purchases its utilities from the city of Las Animas and has a monthly bill around $80,000. Long said he and his fellow commissioners are getting word from the state that no facilities are going to be shut down but that staff reductions are certainly possible."We're unhappy that this is even being proposed," he said. Olney Springs, which is home to the Crowley County Correctional Facility that also is operated by the CCA, is another correctional facility at risk of losing jobs.

March 29, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado’s declining prison population has imperiled two private prisons in Southeastern Colorado, where the economy already is reeling from the recent closure of a state-run prison. Savings from the pending closure of another state-run prison in Southern Colorado could be used to prop up the for-profit ventures. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, has notified the state that it needs a subsidy or it will start shedding jobs, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Roxane White said Wednesday. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she said. Similar threats loom at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, which also is operated by CCA, and Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs, operated by Community Education Centers Inc., according to White. “At both the CCA facilities and Cheyenne Mountain, up to 20 percent of their beds are empty,” she said. “They are looking at the need to make staffing reductions.” White confirmed that diverting the estimated $4.5 million in savings the state expects to realize next year from the pending closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City is one option, but she doubts that would be enough to satisfy the private prison companies. “It’s not enough to cover it,” she said. “In this case, we need in the neighborhood of $10 (million) to $15 million to keep the (private) prisons all operational.” Ideally, White said, any action by the private prison companies could be postponed while the state conducts a thorough study of the factors driving the declining prison population, whether the trend is likely to continue and how the state can best manage its resources in light of the findings.

February 3, 2012 Denver Post
Inmate Terrell Griswold's inability to urinate was never treated and ultimately led to his death, a medical investigator says. "I feel very strongly that if they treated this, he'd still be alive today," said Shawn Parcells, a medical investigator and forensic pathologist assistant from Kansas City, Mo., who was hired by Griswold's mother to review circumstances leading to his death. Griswold, 26, was serving a three-year sentence for theft at Bent County Correctional Facility. He was found slumped over a toilet 12 hours after a nurse said he looked fine on Oct. 28, 2010, said Griswold's mother, Lagalia Afola of Kansas City. "This is so rare," Afola said. "For a young man to die of a urinary blockage is unheard of. My son should not be dead." The prison is run by Corrections Corporation of America, a private company. "We take the medical care of inmates in our custody seriously," CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in a written response. He could not comment about Griswold's case because of confidentiality issues, he said. "But we do refer you to the cause of death in the public record." The El Paso County coroner's office determined that the cause of death was cardiac hypertrophy, hypertension, obstructive uropathy and hereditary cardiac hypertrophy. The coroner, Dr. Robert C. Bux, characterized Griswold's urinary condition as a cause of death secondary to hypertension and an enlarged heart. However, he added that the blockage could have caused hypertension and contributed to an enlarged heart. Parcells said he believes Griswold's cause of death should have been listed as "complications of obstructive uropathy." A nodule on Griswold's prostatic urethra accounted for his urine retention and severe kidney problems, Parcells wrote. It also caused high blood pressure. He had been seen repeatedly by medical staff at the prison for recurring bladder-related symptoms, including abdominal pain and an inability to urinate. Griswold received medicines that didn't address his condition and never got a thorough examination by a urologist, Parcells said. "In the end, his body was not able to adjust to the increasing amounts of waste products in his system and the heart had increasing loads of 'fluid retention' it had to deal with," he wrote. "Terrell was in metabolic disarray and an imbalance of electrolytes. This would explain the sudden death." Afola said her son played basketball nearly every day. She said in the last week of his life, he was sleeping a lot and complaining of intense abdominal pain. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said Griswold came to the prison with a long history of neurological and urological issues. She said the state will conduct a mortality review of the case. "CCA is committed to providing inmates appropriate access to medical care and is held to high standards," Owen said. Afola said her son died about three months before he was to be released from prison. "He was just ignored," she said.

November 14, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
A state inmate being held at Bent Correctional Facility reportedly committed suicide Nov. 1. According to Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti, the inmate was identified as Geoffrey A. Scheid, 58. Cause of death was listed as asphyxiation by suffocation, according to Warden Brigham Sloan. Scheid was serving a 19-year sentence on second-degree assault and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust convictions out of Adams County, Sanguinetti said. The Bent prison is a private medium-security prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

May 15, 2009 Lamar Ledger
An escaped male convict, from Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, led authorities on a high speed chase through Bent County early Wednesday afternoon. The convict, who is being identified as a 52 year-old white male, appears to have escaped while working at a recycling center said Las Animas Police Chief Don Trujillo. The convict appears to have secured regular street clothing after escaping from supervision. At approximately 12:55 p.m. he is believed to have attempted to car jack a vehicle from in front of the Family Dollar store. The escapee is believed to have fled southbound down Bent Avenue. The Police chief said the victim was able to thwart the attack. “Within five to ten minutes of that incident, we had a report of a stolen vehicle from the car wash,” said Trujillo. The car wash is located in the 300 block of Second Street. A 1996 Chysler Concorde appears to have been stolen while the vehicle’s owner was washing the floor mats said Trujillo. The suspect is believed to have then fled eastbound on Highway 50 out of town. The police chief said when officers were unable to locate the suspect in the area around the vehicle theft, they moved the search east until the vehicle was spotted. The ensuing chase along Highway 50 reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour said Trujillo. The chase drew to an end near County Road 34 when two of the tires on the stolen vehicle went flat. The suspect was then apprehended by a Las Animas police officer said Trujillo. Assisting in the pursuit and apprehension of the suspect were the Colorado State Patrol, the Bent County Sheriff’s Office and the State Parks Department. Following the arrest, the suspect was treated by EMTs on scene. Police Chief Trujillo said charges are currently pending for the suspect. Trujillo said the notice of an escaped convict was not given to the department until after the suspect was in custody and the officers were attempting to ascertain the suspect’s identity. The Bent County Correctional Facility is a privately owned, all male, medium security, 1,466 bed facility located on the eastern edge of the town of Las Animas. The facility is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, a Tennessee based company. Phone calls to the warden of the facility were not returned Wednesday. Officials at both the Las Animas School District administration and the Las Animas High School said they were not notified of the escaped inmate by the facility until after the suspect’s apprehension. None of the schools in the district were placed on lock down.

August 18, 2004
A former prison inmate in Las Animas alleged in a lawsuit Tuesday the prison staff transported him on the floor of a van and did not give him prescribed pain medication and proper care after surgery for a hernia. Cornelius Jackson sued Corrections Corporation of America, the operator of the state prison, in U.S. District Court for allegedly causing him severe pain and bleeding. Five staff members of the private prison, the Bent County Correctional Facility, also are defendants. Jackson said he was operated on at a Denver hospital on Oct. 8. He claims the staff, contrary to his doctor's instructions, did not give him prescribed pain medication for 13 hours after he was released from the hospital. The lawsuit alleges that the staff disobeyed the doctor's instructions to take Jackson to a Colorado Department of Corrections institution that had appropriate medical facilities for post-operative care. The lawsuit claims "cost-cutting in the medical department has recently been a central focus and a major concern for CCA." (Pueblo Chieftain)

August 1, 1999
A 24-year-old inmate escaped from the private prison. Officials believe he may have stowed away on a trash truck. He is still at large. Earlier in the month, another inmate who was working at the regional recycling center escaped after hot-wiring a prison van. (Denver Post)

Boulder County Jail
Boulder Colorado

January 13, 2006 Daily Camera
The Boulder County Jail continues to grapple with a nursing shortage, but it won't hire an outside agency to provide medical care for inmates, the Sheriff's Office announced Thursday. After struggling to retain and recruit nurses for the past three years, jail officials proposed spending about $1.6 million for an independent agency to take over health-care operations there. But that might result in job losses, pay reductions or reduced retirement benefits for the jail's 10 nurses, said Sheriff Joe Pelle, who announced Thursday that he'd rather focus on improving the existing program. "We have good employees there. Some of them have been there more than 20 years. They were extremely concerned about this and losing their retirement," Pelle said. "So the human aspect played a huge part in this decision." Jail Capt. Larry Hank said Boulder is one of only two Front Range counties that doesn't contract with a private health care company for its jail. But he said he would prefer the county continue providing its own services as long as it can improve operations and attract more nurses. "If they're our employees, they answer to us, they listen to us and they're committed to us," he said. "An outside contractor is trying to make a profit." Hiring an outside agency to provide health care wouldn't have solved all of Boulder County's problems, said Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Many private agencies don't provide high-quality care, and many struggle to attract nurses, she said. "They don't have a magic wand. There's a nursing crisis, and these companies don't come with their own convoy of nurses," she said. "If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is."

Brighton Jail
Brighton, Colorado
Transcor
August 5, 2004
Police are searching for a man they say was being held on burglary charges who escaped from a transport van in Brighton late Wednesday night.  They say Floyd W. Stolin Jr., 31, jumped out of a van at about 10:22 p.m. as the van stopped on the off-ramp of Interstate 76 and Bromley Lane.  The van, operated by private prisoner transport service TransCor America, was bringing Stolin to the Brighton jail.  (Denver Post)

Brush Correctional Facility
Brush, Colorado
GRW
January 8, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
A lawsuit filed on behalf of two Hawai'i female prison inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a corrections officer in a privately run prison in Colorado has been settled for an undisclosed amount of money. Honolulu lawyer Myles Breiner, who sued on behalf of the inmates, said the settlement was for a "significant amount of money," but said he cannot be more specific. "This a private settlement among private parties, and I'm obliged not to disclose the dollar amount," Breiner said. "The parties are satisfied with the agreed upon settlement, and the plaintiffs have been sufficiently compensated. ... It was the right thing to do to take responsibility and acknowledge the injuries of these two jail inmates." Out-of court settlements where the state is required to make payment become public record because public money is involved, but that won't happen in this case. Breiner said the state won't have to pay any share of the settlement because Hawai'i was indemnified against inmate lawsuits under its contract with GRW Corp. to hold the women inmates at the Brush Correctional Facility in Colorado. The inmates, 38 and 26, reported they were assaulted in the Brush Correctional Facility law library the evening of Jan. 8, 2005. The inmates claimed corrections officer Russell E. Rollison pushed one of them against a wall and threatened to write up both inmates for misconduct if they did not perform a sex act for him. One of the inmates saved semen from the encounter that was later turned over to investigators with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Rollison resigned and was charged with two counts of felony sexual contact with an inmate in a penal institution, but pleaded guilty in 2006 to a reduced charge of menacing with a real or simulated weapon, which is also a felony. He was sentenced to two years' probation and 60 hours of community service, according to Colorado court records. Gil Walker, chief executive officer of Tennessee-based GRW, did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the settlement. Brush prison officials have said the sex was consensual and that the inmates planned the encounter as a way to get transferred back to Hawai'i, and as the basis for a lawsuit. The allegations of the two Hawai'i inmates became public when Colorado authorities launched an investigation into charges of sexual misconduct involving prison staff and a total of eight inmates from Colorado, Wyoming and Hawai'i. Another former Brush guard, Fredrick Woller, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment of a Wyoming inmate and was fined $200; and former Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false-reporting charge in connection with Woller's case. All Hawai'i inmates at Brush were moved to the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America. The two female inmates are now serving sentences at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua, Breiner said. Hawai'i now pays more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 men and women inmates on the Mainland because there is no room for them in prisons in Hawai'i.

September 26, 2006 Fort Morgan Times
Continuation of the public hearing for CentraCore’s special exception use permit (SEUP) took the main stage Monday at the Brush City Council meeting as concerned citizens, representatives of CentraCore, Cornell and GRW Corporation spoke to the council about CentraCore’s SEUP application. Following comments from council members, officials and citizens, Brush Assistant City Administrator Karen Schminke and staff requested a few minor revisions to the SEUP, and Councilman Harry Rieger moved that the public hearing be closed, and the council review the revised SEUP during the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 9. Recommended revisions include documentation of 1,800 beds as the original SEUP application was for 2,250 combined beds at the two potential facilities, and CentraCore — in light of water availability — revised its application for 450 fewer beds, bringing the total down to 1,800. Schminke stressed the difference between the operator and the applicant for the SEUP in order to ensure both parties adhere to the rules and regulations. Staff is also requiring rewording of the 24-month sunset clause for both possible facilities. The application by CentraCore and Cornell is to build and operate two prisons in the Brush Industrial Park, directly behind the Brush Correctional Facility (BCF) which is owned and operated by GRW Corp. Before beginning the public hearing, Councilman Phillip Northcutt disclosed his employment at the BCF, and council member Chuck Schonberger, disclosed his wife, Pat Schonberger’s, part-time employment at BCF. The council granted both council members permission to continue in the hearing.

July 14, 2006 Honolulu Advertiser
Two Hawai'i women convicts who allege they were sexually assaulted in a private women's prison in Colorado last year have sued Hawai'i prison officials, the company that runs the prison and a former corrections officer. The suit filed by Honolulu lawyer Myles Breiner in federal District Court in Denver alleges the state of Hawai'i should have known conditions were unsafe for the Hawai'i women inmates at Brush Correctional Facility, and was negligent for failing to prevent the assaults. Inmates Jacqueline Overturf, 36, and Christina Riley, 25, reported they were assaulted in the Brush Correctional Facility law library on the evening of Jan. 8, 2005. The inmates claim guard Russell E. Rollison, an employee of prison operator GRW Corp., pushed one of the women against a wall and threatened to write up both inmates for misconduct if they did not perform a sex act for him. Breiner said one of the inmates saved semen from the encounter that was later turned over to investigators with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Rollison resigned and was charged with two counts of felony sexual contact with an inmate in a penal institution, but pleaded guilty earlier this year to a reduced charge of menacing with a real or simulated weapon, which is also a felony. He was sentenced last month to two years' probation and 60 hours of community service, according to Colorado court records. Deputy Attorney General Diane Taira declined comment because lawyers for the state have not yet seen the lawsuit. Gil Walker, chief executive officer of the Tennessee-based GRW, also declined comment on the lawsuit yesterday because he had not seen it. GRW operates prisons in Colorado, Missouri and Kansas. Brush prison officials have said the sex was consensual and that the inmates were using the incident to get transferred back to Hawai'i and as the basis for a lawsuit. Walker said yesterday the prison's inquiry into the case revealed that Rollison was "a willing participant, but we know that (the inmates) perpetrated it, that it was planned." Breiner denied the inmates were involved in any "enticement" of the corrections officer. "This was a deliberate criminal conduct by a senior correctional officer against my clients. They were raped, and it makes no difference whether they were inmates or not, they were raped and abused," he said. The suit also alleges women who complained they had been sexually assaulted at the prison were punished, including Overturf and Riley. The two Hawai'i inmates were locked in solitary confinement for 37 days, according to the suit. The allegations of the two Hawai'i inmates became public when Colorado authorities launched an investigation into charges of sexual misconduct involving prison staff and a total of eight inmates from Colorado, Wyoming and Hawai'i. Another former Brush guard, Fredrick Woller, pleaded guilty in February to misdemeanor harassment of a Wyoming inmate and was fined $200; and former Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned and pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor false reporting charge in connection with Woller's case. The Hawai'i inmates were moved last year from the Colorado prison to the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America. Overturf was returned to Hawai'i, where she is serving a sentence at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua for drug offenses. Riley has been released on parole after serving prison time for theft, forgery, burglary and fraudulent use of a credit card. Both are undergoing counseling for the assault, Breiner said. The lawsuit does not specify how much in monetary damages the women are seeking, but does say the amount sought is larger than $150,000.

May 12, 2006 Journal-Advocate
Some communities may quiver at the notion a state prison will be built in their area. Some would think a prison would bring nothing but trouble and crime would increase in their towns. From 1999 to the present, the city of Sterling and Logan County have not seen a significant increase in crime, despite a state-run correctional facility opening here in 1999, according to law enforcement officials. The District Attorney's Office also stated the prison has not impacted its caseload in a way that would require major adjustments on its part. "In general, I can't say that the prison has made that much of an impact on my office. Obviously, if we prosecute any prison case it would constitute an increase on our normal caseload, but it is still a relatively small percentage, and some of our higher-visibility cases have involved inmates," 13th Judicial District Attorney Bob Watson said. Watson said private prisons - particularly the Brush facility - had a more significant impact on his office for which they are not receiving any reimbursement for the cases they prosecute. "We were receiving no such reimbursement but that is supposed to be rectified now by changed contracts between private facilities and the state of Colorado," Watson said.

November 3, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i prison officials signed a new contract with a private prison operator this week that for the first time allows the state to financially penalize the company if the prison operator fails to deliver on promised drug treatment or other programs for inmates held on the Mainland. Frank Lopez, acting director of the state Department of Public Safety, said the financial sanctions included in the new contract with Corrections Corp. of America were prompted by problems the state had in Oklahoma, when required drug treatment services for Hawai'i women inmates abruptly ended after the prison was sold in 2003. Inmate programs were interrupted again for more than four months this year at another privately operated women's prison in Brush, Colo., after allegations of sexual misconduct by the staff surfaced, triggering staff resignations, firings and an investigation by the Colorado Department of Corrections. Lopez said that interruption in programs at Brush might have triggered financial penalties if the new contract provisions had been in place at the time. "Our problem before was that we weren't able to address the (contractors') failure to deliver certain services in the past," Lopez said. "It wasn't specific enough. Our contract wasn't tight enough." Neither the Oklahoma nor the Colorado women's prison was operated by CCA, but state monitors have complained in the past that CCA also failed to provide inmate programs that were required by contract. The state prison system on Tuesday transferred another 53 women inmates from the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua to CCA's Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., bringing the number of women inmates on the Mainland to 120, said Shari Kimoto, the department's Mainland branch administrator. In all, Hawai'i houses about 1,850 men and women inmates in private prisons in Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Kentucky because there is no room for them in state-run prisons in Hawai'i. About half of the state's prison population is housed on the Mainland. The new contract covers only the 120 women inmates at Otter Creek, but Lopez said he sees it as a model for new contracts the state will negotiate with CCA next year covering male inmates held out of state.

October 13, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
The former warden of a Colorado prison whose staff was accused of sexual misconduct involving Hawai'i women inmates has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge in connection with one of the misconduct cases. Rick Soares resigned as warden of the privately run Brush Correctional Facility in February shortly before Colorado authorities announced they were investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by staff involving eight women inmates from Hawai'i, Colorado and Wyoming. Two corrections officers were later charged with felony sexual conduct in a penal institution in connection with those investigations. Colorado authorities said they could find no evidence the inmates were coerced for sex, but even consensual sexual contact between an inmate and a prison staff member is a felony in Colorado. Soares was later charged as an accessory in one of the two cases for allegedly rendering assistance to Corrections Officer Fredrick Woller "with intent to hinder, delay or prevent" the prosecution of Woller, according to the charge filed against Soares in Colorado's Morgan County District Court. Woller's case, which involves alleged sexual misconduct with an inmate from Wyoming, has been scheduled for trial on Feb. 5, Watson said. A second former corrections officer, Russell Rollison, is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 5 on two similar counts. Rollison is accused of sexual misconduct involving two women inmates from Hawai'i. Both of the Hawai'i inmates were returned to the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua. The rest of the Hawai'i women serving sentences at Brush have been moved to the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky.

October 13, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The Colorado Department of Corrections has dramatically improved its oversight of private prisons in the state, prisons officials told lawmakers last week. In giving the Legislative Audit Committee an update on changes it has made in how it manages the state's five private prisons, DOC director of prison operations Nolin Renfrow told lawmakers that all is well. That audit he was referring to was a scathing report released in June that criticized the department for being lax in its oversight of private prisons and ignoring problems with them for years. Prompted by a riot at the Crowley County Correction Facility in Olney Springs last year, the audit said DOC knew or should have known about numerous problems concerning the operations of the prisons but did little to nothing to correct them. The state audit said the department diverted DOC workers whose job was to monitor private prisons to other duties, and failed to enforce operations rules and regulations. And in those instances when the department's private prison monitoring units did discover problems, the department failed to follow up to ensure that corrections were made, the audit said. Four of those facilities are operated by the same Nashville-based company, Corrections Corporation of American. In additional to the Crowley County facility, CCA also operates private prisons in Bent, Huerfano and Kit Carson counties. A fifth private facility that houses female inmates is located in Brush. It is owned by the Brentwood, Tenn.-based GRW Corporation.

October 7, 2005 The Gazette
Private prisons in Colorado could face cash penalties for failing to meet minimum safety standards under new contracts negotiated by the Department of Corrections in the wake of a stinging audit. In June, an audit of Colorado's private prisons, which house about 2,800 of Colorado's 18,000 prisoners, found numerous problems, including inadequate staffing levels, unlicensed medical clinics, employees with criminal backgrounds and poor food services. Thursday, corrections officials gave state lawmakers an update on their response to the audit. For instance, private prisons will be fined if staffing levels do not meet minimum standards or if the meals they feed prisoners are not up to par. "I'm not sure the liquidated damages have enough hammer to them," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. Corrections officials said they need time to see if the new penalty system works.

September 29, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
About 80 Hawai'i women prison inmates boarded an airplane in Colorado yesterday for a trip to the small rural town of Wheelwright, Ky., where they will be housed in a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. The women had been held for the past 14 months in the Brush Correctional Facility in Brush, Colo., a private prison run by GRW Corp. that was plagued by problems including allegations of sexual misconduct between staff at the prison and eight inmates from three states, including Hawai'i. The inmates are among 1,828 Hawai'i convicts who are housed at privately run prisons on the Mainland because there is no room for them in Hawai'i prisons. Colorado Department of Corrections officials launched investigations into Brush Correctional Facility earlier this year that resulted in a number of criminal charges against staff and inmates in Colorado. Two prison employees were indicted on charges of alleged sexual misconduct with inmates, and two more prison workers were charged along with five inmates in connection with an alleged cigarette-smuggling ring. Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned in February, and was later indicted as an alleged accomplice in one of the sexual misconduct cases. In March the Colorado Department of Corrections revealed that five convicted felons were allowed to work at the prison because background checks on some staff members had never been completed. Colorado authorities later released an audit that was highly critical of the prison, and contract monitors from Hawai'i reported the prison failed to comply with its contract with the state in a number of areas.

July 28, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
They're out of sight, but must not be out of mind. Hawai'i's overflow inmate population, housed at private prisons on the Mainland, remain our responsibility. And making sure they are treated humanely while serving their time must be our concern. That's why state officials are right to demand an investigation into the sudden opening of cell doors in the predawn hours of July 17 at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility that resulted in a riot. More than 700 Hawai'i inmates have been housed since last year at the Mississippi prison, owned by Corrections Corp. of America. Two inmates were injured in the fight. Kane'ohe resident Sandra Cooper, the mother of one inmate, has her doubts that an internal probe will be enough to bring out the truth about how the cell doors opened. She called on the FBI to do a thorough inquiry, and that indeed would be the ideal way to proceed here. There's precedent for the FBI to take jurisdiction in a case where inmates are brought across state lines. At the very least, an independent authority should drive the investigation, rather than the prison's private owners. And state officials here must continue to ride herd to see that the investigation proceeds to a satisfactory conclusion. In a separate prison issue, it's a relief to see that the state has decided to pull the plug on its contract with the troubled Brush Correctional Facility, a northeastern Colorado prison housing 80 women inmates from Hawai'i. Because of ongoing investigations into alleged sexual misconduct between staff and prisoners, it's imperative that the move be made as soon as possible, while allowing for careful scrutiny of the prisoners' next destination. The end-of-September target date for the move seems reasonable, assuming that the state maintain its careful monitoring of Brush in the meantime. These painful episodes clearly illustrate that housing inmates on the Mainland is merely a short-term response to our critical prison shortage here, and creates its own additional problems. Hawai'i must continue to: work toward expanded prison capacity in the Islands, where we can retain better control of conditions; strengthen the probation system to keep some first-time offenders out of prison; and work on preventive strategies aimed at stemming the tide in drug abuse, which fuels so much of the state's crime problem. Sending inmates to the Mainland is just a stopgap solution.

July 27, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i plans to move 80 women inmates out of a troubled private prison in Colorado by the end of September but is unsure where they will go, prison officials said.  Hawai'i prison spokesman Michael Gaede confirmed the state is requesting bids from facilities to house the Hawai'i inmates and that the request in effect requires they be moved out of the Brush Correctional Facility, a 250-bed prison in northeastern Colorado.  The Brush prison has been under close scrutiny since Colorado authorities disclosed in February they were investigating allegations of sexual misconduct between staff at the prison and eight inmates from three states, including Hawai'i.  Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned in February, and was later indicted as an alleged accomplice in one of the sexual misconduct cases.  Two other prison employees also were indicted on charges of alleged sexual misconduct with inmates, and two more prison workers were indicted along with five inmates in connection with an alleged cigarette smuggling ring.  Those disclosures were followed by reports in March that five convicted felons were allowed to work at the prison because background checks on some staff members had never been completed. Since then Hawai'i monitors have filed reports noting that the prison failed to comply with its contract with the state in a number of areas, and Colorado authorities released an audit that was highly critical of the prison.  Contract monitors and other reports this year cited a litany of concerns about the prison, including:   GRW for many months used inmates to teach required rehabilitation classes to other inmates. Colorado corrections officials repeatedly complained about the practice, and Hawai'i contract monitors in February warned the practice was a "serious concern" for Hawai'i as well.  After the sexual misconduct allegations were made public at Brush, virtually all inmate rehabilitative and educational programming was shut down from January to early June, prison officials acknowledged. That violates the state's contract requirement that those services be offered to inmates.  Inmates and state monitors have repeatedly complained the Brush prison was providing inadequate dental and medical care.  Brush prison officials reported in May that the facility was visited by a doctor only once a month, and a Hawai'i contract monitor's report in May called that staffing inadequate.  Hawai'i contract monitors also warned the facility in February that it was obliged by contract to give inmates better access to dental care, and monitors again cited the same problem in a follow-up inspection in May.  Hawai'i monitors complained last year the Brush prison was not conducting drug testing of inmates that is required by contract, and once again criticized the prison in May for not doing the required testing.  A Colorado audit released in June found the Brush prison clinic was not licensed as required under Colorado law, a lapse that also violated the prison's contract with Hawai'i.

June 21, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
Three states could pull their inmates from Colorado's private prisons by the end of the summer, spooked by a recent sexual misconduct scandal and squeezed by Colorado's own rising prisoner population. The state's five private facilities house about 2,700 Colorado inmates. They also contract with three other states - Hawaii, Washington and Wyoming - to hold prisoners those states can't, due to overcrowding. The private prisons have lost or stand to lose nearly 400 out-of-state inmates, which would be an approximately $20,000 per-day hit spread between two Tennessee firms who run them. State officials say they can fill the gap with 400 Colorado inmates waiting for prison beds - contradicting warnings the private firms sounded earlier this year - and suggest that facilities filled only with Colorado prisoners could prove easier to control. Corrections officials say it's easier to manage prisoners from one state, because they are all used to the same rules. Some states, for example allow cigarette smoking or conjugal visits, which Colorado does not. "It is always easier to manage a single jurisdiction population," said Alison Morgan, a corrections department spokeswoman. Later, she said the loss of out-of-state inmates "is not a bad thing."  Officials also have said out-of- state inmates may have fueled or contributed to two riots in the past decade, including one at the Crowley County Correctional Facility last July. Washington once sent more than 200 prisoners to Colorado. The state has moved all but a few to other states, a Washington corrections official said Monday. Wyoming will move its 54 male inmates - already down from a high of 300 - from Colorado by summer's end, a corrections spokeswoman there said. Wyoming has already moved 38 female inmates from a private prison in Brush, in part because of alleged sexual misconduct between prison guards and inmates that surfaced in February. Hawaiian officials are rebidding their contract to house 80 women who are in Brush. Twenty- one state lawmakers urged their governor in April to move those inmates "immediately," the Honolulu Advertiser reported.

April 17, 2005 AP
Lawmakers are petitioning Gov. Linda Lingle to move dozens of female Hawaii inmates out of a Colorado prison where staffers were allegedly involved in sexual misconduct with prisoners. Twenty-one members of the Women's Legislative Caucus want Lingle to increase state monitoring of the Brush Correctional Facility in Colorado and ultimately move the 80 Hawaii inmates to another facility. House Judiciary Chairwoman Sylvia Luke, D-Pacific Heights-Punchbowl, said she is concerned about reports that prison staff may be retaliating against Hawaii inmates following allegations that guards were involved in sexual misconduct earlier this year with inmates from Hawaii, Colorado and Wyoming. Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, said Hawaii inmates have faced unfair administrative punishments and had legal records confiscated. The inmates believe these are examples of retaliatory acts, Brady said. GRW chief executive officer Gil Walker has said he expects Colorado to increase its number of inmates in Brush, so the company won't take a financial hit when Wyoming removes it's inmates. "I don't think it will hurt us at all," Walker said.

April 14, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Wyoming will remove its women inmates from a privately run Mainland prison that also houses Hawai'i women inmates, the same prison where staff members were accused of sexual misconduct involving Hawai'i, Wyoming and Colorado inmates. Melinda Brazzale, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Corrections, cited a recent series of problems at the prison in the decision to remove the Wyoming inmates from the Brush Correctional Facility in Colorado. Those problems included criminal charges filed against staff members and the former warden in connection with the sexual misconduct allegations, and revelations that the prison allowed five convicted felons to work there because their background checks had not been completed. Investigations by Colorado state prison officials concluded prison staff had been involved in alleged sexual misconduct with two Hawai'i inmates, two Colorado inmates and four Wyoming inmates. Two other members of the prison staff were charged in an alleged cigarette smuggling ring.

March 24, 2005 AP
Colorado prison officials are reviewing background checks for employees at five private prisons run by Tennessee companies after discovering that some employees at one of them had criminal records. State Corrections Department spokeswoman Alison Morgan said Thursday that five convicted criminals and three people whose backgrounds "merited further investigation" had been hired at the Brush Correctional Facility, a privately run women's prison where several guards face charges of having consensual sex with inmates and smuggling tobacco into the facility. Morgan said a former warden for GRW Corp., a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company that has held a state contract to run the prison for 18 months, failed to complete background checks for some employees. The failure was first reported by KCNC-TV of Denver. She said it appears that fingerprints for the guards that were sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were smudged or otherwise unreadable. The prints were sent back to the prison, which did not follow up, Morgan said. Morgan said the Corrections Department's Private Prisons Monitoring Unit does not have the staff or funding to regularly conduct its own background checks of private-prison employees.

March 23, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
People with criminal records were hired to work at a Brush prison where several employees are facing charges for allegedly having sex with inmates, according to a CBS 4 News investigation. The Brush Correctional Facility is a medium-security prison that holds 250 women. GRW Corp., a private company headquartered in Tennessee, runs the prison and hired several employees with criminal records to watch over the inmates, according to CBS 4 News. The company has fired six employees with criminal histories so far. Four guards have resigned from the prison, and one has been put on administrative leave. The warden, Rick Soares, resigned Feb. 18, a month after the Department of Corrections first received reports of sexual misconduct. Three prison guards are facing criminal charges for allegedly having sex with seven inmates. Two other guards and an inmate are accused of smuggling contraband cigarettes into the facility. The list of the prison employees with questionable backgrounds includes 28-year-old Angela Gallegos, CBS 4 News said. A prison guard, she was arrested on a felony charge three years ago and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment. Heather Henry, 24, was also hired as a guard. Her record includes arrests for harassment, domestic violence-assault, violating protective orders and child abuse. Richard Fairchild, 42, was convicted of domestic violence and violating a restraining order. Gil Walker, president of GRW, said these are the last people who should be working in a prison and should have never been hired. "We don't hire questionable people, and that's the embarrassing part," Walker told CBS 4 News. Walker said the company never finished its background checks on potential employees and didn't know their full histories.

March 10, 2005 Fort Morgan Times
Morgan County District Attorney Bob Watson filed additional charges Wednesday in connection with the prison sexual misconduct scandal in Brush. The new indictments include a charge of unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution lodged against a second guard, charges of being an accessory to a crime against the former warden and charges against another nine current or former prison employees related to introducing contraband cigarettes into the prison and conspiracy to commit introduction of contraband. According to Watson, the new charges are not necessarily all that will result from his office's ongoing investigation of the GRW-owned private prison. According to case filings made Wednesday in Morgan County District Court, corrections officer Fredrick Henry Woller, 32, of Brush is charged with unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution, a class five felony. Specifically, Woller is alleged to have engaged in sexual conduct with prisoner Cristie Maez. Also charged Wednesday was former Warden Richard "Rick" Soares Jr., 57, of Sterling, who was allegedly an accessory to the crime of unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution, also a class five felony. He is accused of hindering the investigation. The pair joins corrections officer Russell Rollison, 31, of Brush, who was charged last week with unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution. Other charges resulting from the criminal probe to date regard prison food service and other prison employees allegedly conspiring with inmates to bring cigarettes into the prison. Cigarettes have been banned from Colorado penal institutions since 1999. Those charged with introducing contraband in the second degree, a class six felony, and conspiracy to commit introduction of contraband, also a class six felony, are: Pania Akopian, 31, Pisa Tuvale, 35, Annette Cummings, 38, Janice Crockett, 47, and Jeannette Dillon, 38, all of whom have the Brush Correctional Facility listed as their address; Gail Guerrero, no age listed, and Maria Ramirez, 46, both of Brush; Charmayne Kalama, 28, of Kapolei, Hawaii, and Stannie T. Muramoto, 46, of Honolulu, Hawaii. According to Gil Walker, CEO of Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the 250-bed private prison, an internal investigation uncovered only consensual sex between the guards and prisoners. Alison Morgan, a state corrections department spokeswoman, said the DOC investigation revealed at least some of the sex as having been initiated by inmates. She said inmates from both Hawaii and Wyoming admitted to initiating the encounters either so they could be returned home or in an effort to sue the prison. However, a Hawaii attorney representing two of the inmates has alleged his clients were raped. The case was referred to DA Watson's office by the state corrections department's inspector general's office. The Brush prison, which became the first private prison for women in Colorado, opened in August, 2003. It houses 80 inmates from Hawaii, 73 from Colorado and 45 from Wyoming. Colorado pays $50 a day to GRW to house its prisoners.

March 10, 2005 The Denver Channel
The former warden and 10 other people at the privately run Brush Correctional Facility for Women face felony charges for conduct ranging from having sex with inmates to smuggling tobacco into the prison. Filings released by District Attorney Robert Watson show 32-year-old Fredrick Henry Woller faces a felony charge for allegedly having sex with an inmate. Former warden Rick Soares, 57, faces charges of being an accessory for allegedly hindering the discovery of Woller's conduct. Earlier this month, two correctional officers and seven female inmates were charged with several offenses, including introducing contraband in the form of tobacco. Watson said other investigations are pending. Soares last month resigned from Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the 250-bed prison in Morgan County, after a month-long investigation implicated several officers. The department's inspector general's staff reported to Watson last month that three officers had sex with four inmates from Wyoming, two from Colorado and two from Hawaii. Some of the women alleged they were raped, but investigators concluded the sex was consensual. Having sex with an inmate is a felony for guards. The facility became the first private prison for women in Colorado in August 2003.

March 4, 2005 Star Bulletin
Female inmates from Hawaii will remain at a privately run women's prison in Colorado where five officers face sexual misconduct and contraband charges, Hawaii officials said yesterday. A visit to the prison by state monitors last month shows Hawaii does not need to transfer its inmates to an alternate facility, said Richard Bissen, interim director of Hawaii's Department of Public Safety. "Incidents like this happen at facilities," Bissen said. "But that place is being more closely monitored than ever, and the women themselves say they are safe." Three prison officers had sex with a total of four Hawaii inmates, two Colorado inmates and one Wyoming inmate, according to Alison Morgan, a spokesperson for the Colorado corrections department. Two of the officers have resigned, and a third is on administrative leave. Investigations show the sex was consensual, said Gil Walker, founder and chief executive of Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the Brush Correctional Facility for Women, located in Colorado. One case involved two Hawaii inmates and a guard, who admitted to engaging in sexual activity in January in the prison library. Some civil rights advocates argue that there is no such thing as consensual sex between an inmate and an authority figure. "We have a law that says it's a felony. It's not consensual when someone is in custody," said Kat Brady, an advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. Myles Breiner, a Honolulu lawyer who is representing the Hawaii inmates, has said the women were forced to perform a sex act for Rollison. Morgan said some Hawaii and Wyoming inmates admitted they believed having sex with the guards would help them get transferred to their home states, where they would be closer to relatives.

February 25, 2005 Denver Post
The warden resigned and five correctional officers at the privately run Brush Correctional Facility for women face sexual misconduct and contraband charges in the wake of a criminal probe. Warden Rick Soares resigned from Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the 250-bed prison in Brush, on Feb. 18 after a month-long investigation implicated the five officers, said Alison Morgan, state Department of Corrections spokeswoman. The warden was not implicated in the wrongdoing. The department's inspector general's office referred contraband allegations involving two staff members and one inmate and sexual misconduct allegations involving three staff members to District Attorney Robert Watson on Thursday. Three officers who were not named had sex with four Hawaiian inmates, two Colorado inmates and one Wyoming inmate, Morgan said. Two of the officers resigned, and a third is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case. Some of the women alleged they were raped, but investigators concluded the sex was consensual, sometimes initiated by inmates, Morgan said. It's still a felony offense for correctional officers, she said. She said some Hawaiian and Wyoming inmates acknowledged they had sex with correctional officers because they believed they would be returned home, where they would be closer to relatives. Others hoped to file lawsuits against the prison. Two officers and an inmate were caught sneaking tobacco into the prison, Morgan said.

Centennial Community Transition Center
Arapahoe County, Colorado
Correctional Management Inc

November 22, 2008 CBS 4 Denver
An Arapahoe County halfway house has been placed on probation until next June after residents were found to be drinking, others were leaving the secure facility in the middle of the night without authorization and still other clients said staff members were accepting bribes for looking the other way. "It's unfortunate staff members violated the trust we have given them," said Mike Koob, Operations Vice President for Correctional Management Inc., the company that operates the halfway house. In late July, an offender at Centennial Community Transition Center, located at 14485 East Fremont Ave., told a staff member about numerous security lapses. That led supervisors to conduct a surprise 1:30 a.m. inspection on July 26. They found four clients were missing from the facility without authorization. All four had stuffed their beds with clothes to suggest they were still there and sleeping. One was serving a four year sentence for felony vehicular eluding. Another was serving a one year sentence for felony menacing. All four offenders tested positive for alcohol when they returned after being gone for several hours. One later wrote a statement saying he paid a corrections technician $100 to allow him to leave the facility at about 11:45 pm. "This has been going on for a couple of weeks," the man wrote. Breathalyzer tests given to other clients showed ten were positive for alcohol. Three days after the surprise inspection, another offender told a manager that a staff member was taking $100 bribes in exchange for allowing clients to provide clean urine samples for each other. All that prompted the Arapahoe County Community Corrections Board to call a special emergency meeting Aug. 4 demanding answers from CMI, the operator of the halfway house. Board member John Jordan said his biggest concern was 'community safety'. Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers made a motion to remove all violent offenders from CCTC and only allow the facility to take property offenders. But the board voted 12-1 against that motion. Correctional Management subsequently fired three staff members involved in the halfway house shenanigans. Eight offenders involved in the July incidents were sent back to jail to complete their sentences. On Oct. 16, the Arapahoe County Community Corrections Board placed CCTC on probation until June 30, 2009. Arapahoe County Community Resources Director Don Klemme said it was the first time the community corrections board had placed a halfway house on probation. In an Oct. 20 letter to the corrections board, CMI Vice President Mike Koob wrote that "CMI took the situation at CCTC seriously and responded immediately and decisively." In another letter from CMI to the community corrections board, the company said it "hired staff that chose not to live up to the responsibility and trust placed upon them in their positions...CMI believes this is a very serious and unfortunate incident." The company said since the July discoveries, it has made several changes including random, unannounced facility visits.

Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Community Education Centers

March 29, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado’s declining prison population has imperiled two private prisons in Southeastern Colorado, where the economy already is reeling from the recent closure of a state-run prison. Savings from the pending closure of another state-run prison in Southern Colorado could be used to prop up the for-profit ventures. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, has notified the state that it needs a subsidy or it will start shedding jobs, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Roxane White said Wednesday. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she said. Similar threats loom at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, which also is operated by CCA, and Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs, operated by Community Education Centers Inc., according to White. “At both the CCA facilities and Cheyenne Mountain, up to 20 percent of their beds are empty,” she said. “They are looking at the need to make staffing reductions.” White confirmed that diverting the estimated $4.5 million in savings the state expects to realize next year from the pending closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City is one option, but she doubts that would be enough to satisfy the private prison companies. “It’s not enough to cover it,” she said. “In this case, we need in the neighborhood of $10 (million) to $15 million to keep the (private) prisons all operational.” Ideally, White said, any action by the private prison companies could be postponed while the state conducts a thorough study of the factors driving the declining prison population, whether the trend is likely to continue and how the state can best manage its resources in light of the findings.

January 11, 2010 Westworld
Sherman Schuett followed the rules at CMRC -- and ended up in the hole for his own protection. If you're Sherman Schuett, the answer to the question posed by the headline above, at least for lawsuit-filing purposes, is in excess of $100,000. The 61-year-old state inmate and his Evergreen attorney, Ron Beeks, are suing the operators of a controversial private prison in Colorado Springs that's supposed to help prepare prisoners for the difficult journey back to society. The Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center encourages its clients to take responsibility for their actions and confront misbehavior by others. That's what Schuett thought he was doing in 2008 when he reported another resident for punching holes in the wal l-- an act that might be considered snitching in a more traditional correctional facility. An employee left Schuett's report where the other prisoner could see it, and Schuett was attacked in a unit that he claims lacked any supervision. He suffered various facial injuries, including a contact smashed in one eye, and spent three months in segregation after the attack for his own protection. Schuett's saga is one of several complaints about beatings, inappropriate relationships between staff and prisoners, smuggling, and other problems at CMRC that were explored in our 2008 feature "Con School." Now working in Denver and awaiting his next parole hearing, Schuett says one of his goals in filing suit was to prod the prison's operator, Community Education Centers, into improving its management of the facility.

Colorado Department of Corrections

12/31/2013 The Denver Post

One of the top executives with the largest provider of contract prison and immigration detention services for the U.S. government will not face charges for allegedly using his position to threaten a Boulder immigrant and domestic violence victim with deportation. Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett's office had investigated Thomas Wierdsma for possible criminal charges relating to his alleged threats. But this week, Garnett's spokesperson said the investigation is complete and Wierdsma will not be charged. "It does not meet the evidentiary requirements to file charges," said Catherine Olguin , noting that the case is closed. A jury in a civil case last year found Wierdsma, a senior vice president for The GEO Group Inc, guilty of outrageous conduct for actions he took after his son, Charles Wierdsma, was arrested for domestic violence. Charles Wierdsma was convicted of beating his Hungarian-born wife, Beatrix Szeremi. After his son's arrest, Thomas Wierdsma tried to evict Szeremi from the Boulder home where she and his son had been living. He pressured her in texts and e-mails to delete photos of her bruised face from her Facebook page, according to court documents. Those court documents show he notified Szeremi that if she didn't move out of the house, he would be "copying the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement with this and other information." Szeremi was in the country legally, with a green card she obtained after she and Charles Wierdsma met through an online dating site and married. Szeremi's attorney, John Pineau, said neither he nor his client would comment on Garnett's decision to not file charges. Neither Thomas Wierdsma nor a spokesperson for GEO Group could be reached Tuesday for comment on Garnett's decision. Read more: GEO Group executive will not be charged in Boulder case - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24825558/geo-group-executive-will-not-be-charged-boulder#ixzz2p9Z7zR4l

 

June 28, 2013  usnews.nbcnews.com

Two people were injured after a gunman walked into a Colorado halfway house in the early hours of Friday morning and started firing at employees and residents, authorities said. The suspect, Francis Pizzo, 46, is a former resident of the Arapahoe County Treatment Center in northeast Colorado who recently escaped from the facility, said Sheriff's Capt. Larry Etheridge. Deputies responded to a report of a shooting at the facility just after 1:00 a.m. local time on Friday, the sheriff's office said in a statement. The two people wounded in the attack were transported to local hospitals, where they were being treated Friday for "not life-threatening" injuries, according to the statement. The gunman fled the scene of the shooting and authorities are working to track him down, Etheridge said. The halfway house is a contracted community corrections facility for the Colorado State Department of Corrections, according to the statement. The shooting incident occurred just three months after the executive director of that department was shot and killed at his house. Tom Clements, 58, was gunned down outside his front door in Monument, Colo. on March 19, setting off a search for the assailant, later determined to be parolee Evan Ebel. The manhunt came to a dramatic climax after Ebel, who reportedly had ties to white supremacist groups, was killed in a shootout with Texas deputies March 21.

April 4, 2012 The Chieftain
A report last week that Corrections Corporation of America needs a subsidy from the state or it will start shedding jobs has caught the attention of officials in Bent and Crowley counties. Las Animas is home to the Bent County Correctional Facility, the city's largest employer at 280 employees. Las Animas County Commissioner Bill Long said Tuesday that if CCA decided to cut jobs or shut down the prison it would cripple the county. "It would be an absolute disaster for Bent County," Long said. "To first lose the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility, which used to be our largest employer, and then possibly this, it just can't be described as anything other than awful." Long said that in addition to the correctional facility being the county's largest employer, it also is its largest taxpayer at around $400,000 annually. He added that the prison purchases its utilities from the city of Las Animas and has a monthly bill around $80,000. Long said he and his fellow commissioners are getting word from the state that no facilities are going to be shut down but that staff reductions are certainly possible."We're unhappy that this is even being proposed," he said. Olney Springs, which is home to the Crowley County Correctional Facility that also is operated by the CCA, is another correctional facility at risk of losing jobs.

March 29, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado’s declining prison population has imperiled two private prisons in Southeastern Colorado, where the economy already is reeling from the recent closure of a state-run prison. Savings from the pending closure of another state-run prison in Southern Colorado could be used to prop up the for-profit ventures. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, has notified the state that it needs a subsidy or it will start shedding jobs, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Roxane White said Wednesday. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she said. Similar threats loom at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, which also is operated by CCA, and Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs, operated by Community Education Centers Inc., according to White. “At both the CCA facilities and Cheyenne Mountain, up to 20 percent of their beds are empty,” she said. “They are looking at the need to make staffing reductions.” White confirmed that diverting the estimated $4.5 million in savings the state expects to realize next year from the pending closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City is one option, but she doubts that would be enough to satisfy the private prison companies. “It’s not enough to cover it,” she said. “In this case, we need in the neighborhood of $10 (million) to $15 million to keep the (private) prisons all operational.” Ideally, White said, any action by the private prison companies could be postponed while the state conducts a thorough study of the factors driving the declining prison population, whether the trend is likely to continue and how the state can best manage its resources in light of the findings.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

September 1, 2009 AP
Colorado officials plan the early release of 15 percent of inmates in state prisons to help slash $320 million from the state budget. The cuts that took effect Tuesday call for the release of 3,500 of the 23,000 inmates over two years, saving the state about $45 million, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said. An additional 2,600 parolees, or 21 percent of those currently on parole, will be released from intense supervision. Prisoners eligible for early release are those within six months of their mandatory release date. Those eligible for early parole release must have served at least half of their supervised term. Sex offenders do not qualify. Other offenders, including those who committed violent crimes, will undergo more rigorous reviews. No staff members are being cut. Money will be saved by reducing the number of inmates sent to private prisons, Sanguinetti said.

August 21, 2009 Denver Post
Gov. Bill Ritter's plan to cut the state budget through inmate releases could reduce Colorado's prison population by 1,000 in a year and immediately save $19 million. It will also almost certainly accelerate the commission of new crimes, and could force layoffs from a privately run prison, experts said. Ritter's plan calls for trimming parole supervision for some inmates already out of prison, and releasing some non-sex-offender inmates early and placing them on parole. A total of 5,700 inmates or parolees could see their status change as a result of Ritter's cut. A Metropolitan State College of Denver professor says it's unavoidable that a large number of those prisoners or parolees will commit new crimes. "The recidivism rate in Colorado is between 40 and 60 percent within five years, depending on types of crimes," Metro State criminal justice professor Joseph Sandoval said. "I do think that the risk of release is that some will go on a crime spree and there may be a smaller amount that commit crimes that are heinous." Each of the inmates who will be released early is someone who was within six months of getting out anyway. So, if the inmates follow historical patterns, the early release is more likely to accelerate the commission of new crimes rather than actually increase the crime rate over time, Sandoval said. Still, Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman said the mass release of prisoners across the state is of "great concern." Private prisons wary -- There is also concern about the plan's impact on privately run prisons. Colorado's prison system is a mixture of state-run and privately run facilities. The private prisons make a profit largely based on efficiency, and they need full beds to get fully paid. The largest of those companies working in Colorado, Corrections Corporation of America, is already fretting that reducing the prison population too far would be bad for the company's bottom line. "We're hoping it doesn't put us in a position where our operations are not viable," said Steve Owen, spokesman for Tennessee-based CCA, which runs Crowley County Correctional Facility, Bent County Correctional Facility and Kit Carson Correctional Facility. Katherine Sanguinetti, spokes woman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said the early prison releases will save $61 million over three years. Although there will be population decreases at all Colorado's prisons, the private prisons will be hit hardest because empty beds at state-run prisons will be filled by prisoners transferred from the private prisons. She said safety is DOC's top priority.

March 24, 2009 The Denver Channel
A private prison is planning to transfer its Colorado inmates to other facilities to make room for 752 inmates from Arizona. The Colorado inmates will be moved from the Huerfano County Correctional Center to other facilities in Colorado run by Corrections Corporation of America(CCA), according to the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper. No Colorado statute keeps the state from accepting inmates from other states. CCA has four private prisons in Colorado. The CCA prison in Walsenburg opened in November 1997. State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, is not happy about the plan. She told the newspaper, "Coloradans should be concerned because earlier this year we heard that there was a question of whether or not they wanted to dump the Guantanamo Bay detainees in Colorado and now we are hearing they want to dump Arizona's inmates here. Why would we want Arizona's criminals in Colorado?"

December 21, 2008 Daily Sentinel
Colorado lawmakers eager to avoid another series of ultimatums from the state’s dominant private prison contractor could find some relief after a Texas-based prison firm finishes a 1,250-bed prison near Hudson, northeast of Denver. Charles Seigel, Cornell Companies’ vice president of public policy, said his company hopes the Colorado Department of Corrections will choose to do business with his company, particularly in light of past budget tussles. “It certainly is in the state’s interest to have more than one vendor providing this service,” Seigel said. A contract between Cornell Companies and the state could cut into Corrections Corporation of America’s hold over the majority of Colorado’s privately held prisoners. According to Colorado Department of Corrections statistics, Corrections Corporation of America houses 4,436, or 82 percent, of the state’s privately held prisoners. The firm’s corner on private prison contracts contributed to a budget fight last session, when lawmakers said they felt they were being extorted when the prison firm asked for a higher per prisoner, per day reimbursement rate.

October 15, 2007 Daily Sentinel
It has been months since Roger Peck has seen his son. A year ago, Peck and his wife, Millicent, twice a month were driving more than 400 miles from Grand Junction to see their son, 47-year-old Stephen Dallas Peck, at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. But when Peck and 479 other inmates were relocated in December and January to the privately owned North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., those visits ended. “It’s almost impossible for us to get to Oklahoma, and I’m sure we’re more capable than a lot of people that have loved ones in prison,” Roger Peck said. The retired couple said their contact with their son, who was sentenced in early 2004 to 18 years in prison for felony theft and methamphetamine possession, has become relegated to brief collect calls twice a month. The Colorado Department of Correction’s decision to ship its healthiest and best behaved inmates more than 300 miles southeast of Colorado’s closest prison in Trinidad, the Pecks said, is “completely opposite” the state’s goal of promoting prisoner wellness and reducing recidivism. “They skimmed the cream to start with. They took inmates who were in relatively good health and have no violent history and were not in there for violent crime,” Roger Peck said. “So they took the cream of the crop, so to speak, and sent them to this facility whose sole purpose in life is making money.” Without their support, the Pecks said, they fear how well their son will cope with his methamphetamine addiction, which also landed him in prison in 1997. Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said in an attempt to address some of the Peck family’s concerns, he and Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras are going to visit the North Fork Correctional Facility at the end of this month. King said after he met the Peck family earlier this year, he began to wonder if Colorado was abandoning its oversight responsibilities by shipping felons out of state. “I had some real concerns about us giving up our ability, in some ways, to have oversight of these people that are Colorado citizens,” King said. “Granted they’re felons, but they’re our felons, and we have a responsibility to make sure they’re doing their time in a safe environment.” King said “outsourcing our felons” removes them from the support network of friends and family they need to transition from their criminal lifestyles and addictions back to living normal lives. Zavaras said from a purely financial standpoint, private prisons — the six in Colorado and the North Fork Correctional Facility — are a cost-effective way to deal with Colorado’s exploding corrections population. According to Department of Corrections statistics, Colorado’s inmate population has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 13,242 inmates in 2006 to 22,424 inmates this year. Nearly 5,000 of Colorado’s inmates reside in private prisons. Zavaras said sending prisoners outside Colorado is neither ideal nor fair to the inmates, but it is necessary. “Managing prisoners out of state, quite frankly, is very, very difficult for us,” Zavaras said. “If we would have had in-state beds, we wouldn’t be out of state. We’re only there as a last resort.” He said there are plans to expand two existing private, in-state prisons. As soon as those expansions are completed, he said, “We will bring them back.” Zavaras said he plans to scrutinize the Sayre, Okla., prison during his and King’s Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 visits. He said during that time he will not only speak with Colorado inmates but look into the concerns of inmates’ families. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said that ideally Colorado would pull out of private prisons, whose missions are directly contrary to reducing recidivism. McFadyen, who has 12 state and federal prisons in her southern Colorado House district, said private facilities have no reason to attempt to reintegrate felons back into society. She said private facilities see felons as possible repeat customers, so they have no incentive to decrease recidivism. Removing inmates from Colorado, she said, is an even better way for private prisons to maintain demand for their beds. “Sending an inmate out of state is almost guaranteeing they’ll come back in the system because of the lack of support,” McFadyen said. “I don’t know how an inmate succeeds when they have no support from home.”

June 2007 Reason OnLine
After a crackdown on illegal immigration, farmers in the rural area outside Pueblo, Colorado, found they lacked the labor to help them plant and harvest crops. When the farmers pressed their case with state Rep. Dorothy Butcher (D-Pueblo), she offered a proposal: Why not use prison inmates? In May a private company, Colorado Correctional Industries, will launch a pilot project putting one or two groups, totaling eight to 10 prisoners apiece, to work in Colorado fields. It will be the latest of more than 30 work programs authorized by the state’s corrections department, but the first to fill a need created by an exodus of Mexican migrant workers. For $10 per inmate per hour, convicts will till fields, plant seeds, and eventually pick crops. Not that the prisoners will be raking in the lucre. According to Alison Morgan, the state’s private prisons director, inmates will get 63 cents an hour for their labor, 20 percent of which will be taken to pay for “restitution and child support.” The rest, she says, they can use “to buy phone time, or other services, or they can use it when they go home.”

April 18, 2007 Colorado For Ethics
The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) responded to a March 5, 2007, open records request by Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government (CCEG) that sought documents relating to a private prison contract awarded by CDOC to The GEO Group, Inc. The documents obtained by CCEG confirm that former Director of Prisons Nolin Renfrow began working for The GEO Group while still on state payroll, a blatant conflict of interest. In an email to Brian Burnett, the deputy executive director of CDOC, Dave Schouweiler, DOC Manager of Purchasing, stated that Renfrow was on state payroll until January 31, 2006 and acknowledged the “impropriety of Mr. Renfrow’s involvement with the originating procurement.” The CORA request and responsive documents are available on CCEG’s website at www.coloradoforethics.org. CCEG is posting these records as part of its commitment to holding the government responsible for its actions.

April 1, 2007 Denver Post
If Joe Nacchio ends up in the slammer, he'd better hope it's not one run by Corrections Corporation of America, though Qwest retirees just might feel particular glee at the thought of his working most of a day to pay for a roll of toilet paper. About 480 inmates from Colorado have been transferred to CCA's North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., since December, and they're finding that hard time is a lot harder in a prison run for profit. The inmates, all culled from state prisons based on their release dates, records for compliance and nonviolent prison histories, have been rewarded for their good behavior with lousy food, fewer visits from family members, limited access to phones, delays in mail service, a lack of access to Colorado law books and prices in the prison canteen that have been jacked up in some cases to three times those in Colorado institutions. "It seems like minor stuff to people outside of prison, but it's created a real powder keg," said Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Parents of inmates housed at Sayre have reported that a boycott of the commissary was organized as a prison protest, and when a guard was perceived to be harassing an inmate at lunch recently, the entire room stood in solidarity. They worry that tensions could erupt into a riot similar to what happened at the CCA prison in Crowley County in 2004. "The guys are really upset," said Tracy Masuga, whose son was transferred to Sayre in December. Among the recent price hikes at the canteen were: peanut butter that sold for $1.48 in January now going for $2.34, AIM toothpaste jumping from $1.45 to $2.23, raisin bran going from $2.99 to $4.75, and a 25-watt light bulb going from $1.20 to $3.69. In Colorado state prisons, peanut butter is $1.80, AIM toothpaste 95 cents, and banana nut granola (the closest thing to raisin bran on the commissary list) is $2.11. Toilet paper sells for 70 cents a roll in Sayre compared with 44 cents at state-run prisons. "This might not seem like much, but we're talking about people who make literally a dollar a day," said Ann Aber, an attorney with the Colorado Public Defender's office. "It's arbitrary and inexplicable exercises of power like this that can create a really incendiary situation." Alison Morgan, chief of private prisons for the Department of Corrections, said a team from Colorado visited the Sayre facility this month and talked to about 200 inmates. Complaints about the price hikes were rampant, she said, but she insisted that the prisoners' concerns were being addressed. "The warden is looking at the commissary list and has reduced prices for about 40 items, including the price of light bulbs," she said. Steve Owen, spokesman for CCA, said that after a brief drop in purchases from the canteen around March 9, sales have returned to normal. Gary Golder, director of prisons for the DOC, said CDs of Colorado statutes are on order for use in the Sayre prison library, but delivery by the vendor has been delayed. Problems with phones, mail service and other issues will be resolved, Morgan said. As for the food, which was described as inedible by inmates two months ago and resulted in many of them reporting significant weight loss, Morgan describes it now as "fabulous." "The previous food-service manager was fired." State Rep. Buffie McFadyen said she has heard some of the complaints, and while she is concerned, focusing on things like commissary prices and phone service ignores the larger issue. "They shouldn't be there at all," said the Democrat from Pueblo West. "Sending inmates out of state is almost guaranteeing a 100 percent recidivism rate," said McFadyen, who has eight state prisons in her district. "We're taking the inmates with the best track records within our system and punishing them by sending them out of state away from their families. When inmates don't have that support system in place to help them re-enter society, it almost guarantees failure." McFadyen said this is all part of the private-prison system's business plan. "High recidivism rates ensure profits for their stockholders," she said. "There's no incentive to do what's best for inmates. They profit by having them come back into the system." Owen called such criticism "completely false." "We invest a great deal in innovative programs to rehabilitate inmates," he said. "We consider ourselves professionals." CCA receives $54 per day per Colorado inmate. The cost to keep comparable inmates in state institutions is $77 per day, Morgan said. Even at 30 percent less per inmate, CCA has delivered impressive profits to shareholders. The company racked up $105.2 million in net income in 2006. How do they do it? "The private-prison industry makes its money out of bodies and souls," McFadyen said.

March 6, 2007 Greeley Tribune
Saying GEO Group Inc. can't be trusted, a Pueblo lawmaker asked state officials Monday to rescind a contract with the company to build a private prison in Ault. Plans for the prison, which would house 1,500 inmates and would be built east of the railroad tracks along U.S. 85, has stalled on two fronts. Ault leaders decided they would not approve the facility until the public voted on it, and GEO wants to change its contract to ensure payment for its beds. Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, a vocal critic of private prisons, said Monday that the proposed change and other issues regarding GEO's integrity should negate the Ault contract. “Anybody living in Ault should be concerned that a company that would bid this way on a contract might have a business in their town," she said. Philip Tidwell, spokesman for the town group Coalition Against Ault Prison, said residents hope no one else bids on the Ault prison if GEO's contract is rescinded. "We just do not want any private prison, whether it be GEO or Cornell or anyone else," he said. A spokesman for GEO did not return calls seeking comment. McFadyen said the company is attempting to do the same things in Ault that derailed plans for a GEO facility in Pueblo. In 2003, GEO won a contract for a 1,100-bed, pre-parole and parole revocation facility in Pueblo, and after almost four years of delays, the state pulled the contract last fall. The company never broke ground on the facility. "The state of Colorado was held hostage for four years waiting for those beds," McFadyen said. The delays included zoning issues in Pueblo and GEO's attempt to obtain guaranteed payments on 90 percent of its beds, regardless of whether the beds were occupied. That is something state leaders have opposed and which may even be impossible because of state laws, McFadyen said. Now, GEO is trying for guaranteed bed payments in Ault, she said. "You have to question the integrity of the 2006 bid," she said. "If past performance is an indicator, I suspect we will be in the same place we were in 2003 in Pueblo." McFadyen said Ari Zavaras, the new director of the Department of Corrections, told her he is opposed to bed guarantees. Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan told the Associated Press that Zavaras will review McFadyen's request and decide how to respond. The story of Ault's possible prison goes back to late 2005, when Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for the Department of Corrections, started working with GEO on a bid for a private prison. Renfrow is under investigation for using state sick leave to obtain the Ault contract on behalf of GEO. On Monday, Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government, a watchdog group, filed an open records request about the Ault bid. "We do not feel that the public's interest was put forth in the procurement of this contract," said Chantelle Taylor, spokeswoman for the watchdog group. A state audit found Renfrow's business activities "arguably present a conflict of interest and result in a breach of ... the public trust." That breach, coupled with GEO's attempt to change its Pueblo contract by adding the bed-payment guarantee, should have prevented the company from getting the Ault bid in the first place, McFadyen said. Tidwell agreed. "One thing the state should recognize is (GEO) did not operate fairly," he said. "They hired an insider knowing he worked for the state. In my mind, GEO has shown itself to be not a company that operates fairly in the state of Colorado.

March 5, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, and two reform groups today formally requested the director of the Department of Corrections and the governor rescind Geo Group’s bid to build a private prison in Ault. The reasons cited included the company’s performance on a 2003 bid to build a private prison in Pueblo. McFadyen said GEO Group lost its contract to build the Pueblo facility because it delayed the start of construction, then tried to renegotiate its contract to get a guarantee that it would be paid for 90 percent occupancy, even if beds were not filled. "Basically, the state of Colorado was held hostage for four years. They didn’t even break ground," McFadyen said. In her letter to Ari Zavaras, executive director of DOC, she said, "It would appear that the state’s best interests were not served by allowing GEO group to bid any contract with the state because of its lack of performance on tis 2003 award." Officials with Geo Group could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. Alison Morgan, spokeswoman for the DOC, said Zavaras was aware of the letter being sent by McFadyen, but had not seen it Monday. "Since he was not with the department during the RFP (request for proposals) process, it is an issue that he is still studying and is being briefed on," said Morgan. "Once he has all the information, including McFadyen’s letter, he would welcome an opportunity to sit down and talk to her."

January 31, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is taking over the probe of a retired state prison official who stands to be paid $1 million for helping a private prison company win a state bid. Nolin Renfrow, former state prisons director, openly became a consultant to the Geo Group and helped it win a $14 million- per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison proposed in Ault. A state audit said Renfrow began the work for Geo while still on the state payroll. It also said that he is to collect a $1 million fee if the prison is built. State employees are prohibited from providing paid assistance to anyone to win state contracts or economic benefits. State law also prohibits activities that constitute a conflict of interest. Ari Zavaras, who became prisons chief with the new administration several weeks ago, said he asked the CBI to take over the investigation to "overcome the perception that it won't be a thorough investigation." Renfrow said Tuesday, "I understand why he would do that, and I just hope it comes to quick resolution." The Department of Corrections had been investigating. Its report was to have been given to prosecutors if warranted. Zavaras said he is letting the CBI decide whether the probe will become a criminal investigation.

December 16, 2006 The Gazette
State prison officials have canceled a contract for a new private prison in Pueblo, a move that casts doubt on how much Colorado will be able to rely on private prisons while it copes with a crowding crisis. The GEO Group, which was awarded a contract in 2003 to build the Pueblo pre-release prison, has also been contracted to build and operate a prison in Ault, in northeastern Colorado. But the same issue that doomed the Pueblo project — the company’s insistence it be guaranteed nearly full occupancy — could derail the latter prison, because GEO is making a similar demand. “If GEO’s going to demand a bed guarantee, they need to leave the state,” said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, a Pueblo Democrat and leading critic of private prisons. “It is not the job of the Colorado taxpayers to ensure profits for this corporation.” The Pueblo prison was delayed repeatedly: by zoning issues, by a legal challenge from a prison-reform group and by several revisions to the plan by GEO. But the final impasse began this summer, when the company asked for a 90 percent minimum occupancy guarantee for the prison, which wasn’t a condition of the original proposal and was opposed by Department of Corrections officials. Private prisons are paid a daily rate per inmate by the state, currently $52. Last month, the DOC denied a contract-extension request, and on Thursday informed the company that it was canceling the contract. “Ground has not broken, and GEO has given no indication when, or even if, it plans to commence construction,” DOC executive director Joe Ortiz wrote. “Our patience cannot be infinite.” The department is facing an acute crowding problem. Years of canceled prison-construction projects and steady growth in court caseloads have created a shortage of prison beds. The DOC this week began shipping 720 inmates out of state, a temporary solution until new beds become available. With only one state prison under construction, Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City, the DOC this year awarded contracts to three companies to build prisons for 3,776 inmates. The GEO Group’s proposed 1,500-bed prison in Ault is a major part of the plan. Alison Morgan, head of private-prison monitoring for the DOC, said the department still expects GEO to follow through on its proposal in Ault. “We are treating the Pueblo facility and the Ault facility separately. We have from Day 1, and we will continue to do so,” Morgan said Friday. However, GEO is making the same demand for guaranteed occupancy for the Ault prison. Asked whether the DOC is still opposed to a guarantee, she said, “It is a policy decision to be addressed by the new administration (of Gov.-elect Bill Ritter) and the General Assembly.” The local community isn’t even sure it wants a prison. Ault’s town board last month passed an ordinance requiring voter approval for the prison. No election date has been set. McFadyen said she doesn’t believe GEO ever intended to complete the Pueblo prison, and she doubts the company’s ability and will to follow through in Ault. “We’ve been set back three years in our planning,” McFadyen said. “I think that kind of delay is unacceptable, and we’ll learn from this experience and not allow another contract to drag on for three years.” A call to a spokesman in the company’s Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters was not returned Friday afternoon. An audit requested by Mc-Fadyen regarding the bidding process for the Ault prison was released this week. It showed that a top DOC official set up a consulting business to help GEO win the bid while he was employed by the state. Because the DOC is based in Colorado Springs, the office of 4th Judicial District Attorney John Newsome will receive the results of the investigation and determine whether any law was broken. Morgan said the DOC will issue a new request for proposals for a pre-release prison.

December 16, 2006 ABC 7 News
The state has cut off negotiations and rescinded a contract with developers planning to build a private prison in Pueblo. Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Joe Ortiz sent a letter Friday to the GEO Group, ending six months of negotiations. The letter cites numerous delays and unresolved issues and says the department has run out of patience with the developers. The Florida-based GEO Group had been working for about four years to build the 1,000-bed prison near the Pueblo Memorial Airport industrial park. Construction never got under way. The prison would have been for pre-parole prisoners and prisoners who had seen their parole status revoked. GEO bought about 36 acres for the facility last year, but negotiations with the state broke down over the company's demand that the DOC guarantee 90 percent occupancy and grant a 30-year contract. GEO operates private detention centers in 15 states and one Canadian province as well as in South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom. The Pueblo facility is one of two the company was planning in Colorado. The company's Web site also indicates GEO in 2003 was awarded a contract to develop a 1,000-bed immigration detention facility in the Denver suburb of Aurora. A DOC spokeswoman says the department will put the Pueblo proposal back up for bid, with no promise the facility will still be built in Pueblo.

December 14, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A three-year effort to build a private prison facility at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park appears to be dead after the Colorado Department of Corrections and the prison company reached an impasse over guaranteed occupancies. On Tuesday, reports said that the DOC was working with the attorney general's office to draft a letter to the GEO Group that essentially kills the company's plans to build a 1,000-bed pre-parole and parole revocation facility on 36 acres east of the city. GEO officials said Wednesday they had not received any letter from the DOC, but also didn't express much confidence a deal could be struck for the facility. "We have been in negotiations with the Department of Corrections, but we don't have any contract signed and at this time it does not appear there will be one," said Pablo Paez, director of communications for the Florida-based company. Paez confirmed reports from November that the company was asking for a minimum occupancy guarantee for the facility and also confirmed that the company was planning to go to the city of Pueblo for help to build the prison. ± PLEASE SEE PRISON, 2APRISON / continued from page 1A ± "We needed the guarantee to secure the lowest capital cost through tax-exempt bonds," Paez said Thursday. "We would get those through the local municipality." State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who has been a vocal critic of the private prison industry, and state Rep. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, wrote a letter to the city in May warning against using public funds to build the facility. "I think it's very positive that the city of Pueblo is not going to risk its credit rating on this project," McFadyen said Wednesday. Officials from the DOC were not available Wednesday to comment on whether the letter had to do with the occupancy guarantees, or the result of an audit suggesting former Director of Prisons Nolin Renfrow may have broken the law by helping GEO secure DOC approval to build a 1,500-bed facility in Weld County, prior to his retirement in January. Paez said GEO had no contact with Renfrow before March. Last month, DOC spokeswoman Kathy Church told The Pueblo Chieftain that talks between the company and the DOC over Pueblo's facility had stalled over the minimum occupancy guarantees and had reached a critical point. "They need to either understand our position and accept it or back out completely," Church said last month. Church told The Chieftain that the DOC couldn't make any guarantees without knowing how much money it had to spend. That money depends on what the joint budget committee decides. McFadyen wondered Wednesday why those guarantees weren't part of the original agreement when DOC solicited bids for the Pueblo project. "If the DOC negotiated additional terms with GEO, they would be the only private prison company to receive such treatment and that's wrong," McFadyen said Wednesday. "I think this goes to the point of how committed they were to coming to Pueblo in the first place." The plans to build the facility started in 2003 when GEO, then Wakenhut Corrections Company, proposed building the prison on the West Side. Those plans eventually shifted to the airport and the city approved a controversial agreement with GEO to build a 500- to 1,000-bed facility. A year ago, GEO bought the property at the airport from the city for $296,800. GEO's original plan was to build a 750-bed facility at the airport, but got Planning and Zoning Approval in May to expand the facility to 1,000 beds.

December 14, 2006 Denver Post
Results of an investigation into former Colorado prisons director Nolin Renfrow's conduct in office will be turned over to a district attorney early next year, the Department of Corrections' inspector general said Wednesday. Michael Rulo, who has been the agency's inspector general for seven years, said his office has been cooperating with state auditors on the probe. On Tuesday, the auditors announced that a "former senior- level official" of the Department of Corrections launched a prison-consulting business in August 2005, five months before he retired from the department Jan. 31, and helped a private company land a state prison contract. State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who requested the audit, identified the official as Renfrow. The auditors found that while still employed by DOC, Renfrow began working to assist prospective bidders in developing proposals to his department for a private prison. With his assistance, a company identified as the GEO Group was awarded the contract for a 1,500-bed private prison at Ault. Auditors noted that state employees are barred by law from outside employment that creates a conflict of interest, and from helping people to win a contract with their agency for a fee. Renfrow couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. Rulo said the results of his office's investigation will be turned over to El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome, probably in January. The Department of Corrections is based in that county. Rulo said a decision on whether to file charges will be a "collaborative process" with prosecutors. Kristen Holtzman, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said that Renfrow never contacted the attorney general's office to ask whether his consulting business while still a DOC employee constituted a conflict of interest.

December 13, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A former top official for the Colorado Department of Corrections may have broken the law when he helped a private prison company win a state contract earlier this year, an audit revealed Tuesday. Though the report conducted by the state auditor doesn't name him, the audit centered on Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for DOC. It even calls on the department's inspector general to further investigate the matter and, if warranted, refer it for possible prosecution. The audit, which was requested by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, showed that before Renfrow retired in January, he had been working with a Florida-based private prison company, GEO Group, to land a DOC contract to build a 1,500-bed prison in Weld County. That project is expected to cost an estimated $100 million, for which Renfrow was to get a 1 percent fee - or $1 million - for helping Weld County get the contract, the audit said. In 2003, GEO, which is based in Baca Raton, Fla., was awarded a contract to build a 500-bed, prerelease prison near Pueblo Memorial Airport, which still hasn't been built. Renfrow's replacement, Gary Golder, says the department currently is working with the Attorney General's Office on a letter to GEO that effectively would revoke the 2003 bid and end the Pueblo project. Though the audit did not find any evidence that Renfrow disclosed confidential information to GEO to help it win the Weld County bid, he may have violated state laws, personnel rules and department regulations regarding outside employment, the audit said. Neither Renfrow nor GEO officials were available for comment. The audit found that prior to Renfrow's retirement on Jan. 31, he filed articles of incorporation for a private prison consulting firm, Patriot Business Solutions, in August 2005. "Public records and interviews indicate that the former employee began actively working on behalf of his prison consulting business as of November 2005," the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided documentation showing that the employee requested or the department approved the former employee's outside employment." The contract was awarded to GEO in June, along with a separate contract to Corrections Corporation of America to expand two of its existing private prisons - in Bent and Kit Carson counties - by 720 beds. DOC time sheets also showed that Renfrow "used a combination of annual, sick and holiday leave" to remain on extended paid leave from November 2005 until his retirement date, the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided evidence that (Renfrow) received the express consent of his attending physician or appointing authority to engage in outside work activities," the audit said. "As a result, we question the former employee's use of about 240 hours of paid sick leave benefits valued at about $14,000." McFadyen began to question Renfrow's involvement immediately after GEO won the contract. The Pueblo West lawmaker, a longtime critic of private prisons, questioned why such a company would be awarded a new bid before it had made any progress on the Pueblo prison. McFadyen also questioned why the department was even considering a GEO request, which was made after winning the bid, to give it a written guarantee that the new beds would be filled, something the state has never provided to any of the five other existing private prisons in the state. "I am still questioning the Colorado Department of Corrections as to why GEO was allowed to bid another (project) when they have not performed on the original 2003 project," McFadyen said. "GEO Corporation is demanding that the state issue a mandatory guarantee of filling beds. It is not the responsibility of Colorado taxpayers to ensure the profits of this corporation. "There's no question that we're being held hostage by GEO Group when other (private prison) vendors probably would like to come in and bid those contracts," she added.

December 13, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
A retired state prison official stands to be paid $1 million - and possibly face criminal charges - for helping a private prison company win a state bid while he was still working for the state. A state audit released Tuesday cited a possible conflict of interest. The audit does not name the official, but the audit was aimed at Nolin Renfrow, former state prisons director. And the document describes work he openly undertook for the Geo Group. Renfrow helped Geo win a $14 million-per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison it proposed building in Ault. Renfrow helped Geo write its bid and spoke with Ault officials on Geo's behalf, said officials and Renfrow last spring. On Tuesday, Renfrow did not return a call for comment. The audit said the official may have violated two state laws. One prohibits state employees from providing paid assistance to anyone to win state contracts or economic benefits. The other prohibits activities that constitute a conflict of interest with their duties as state employees. The audit cleared the official of using insider knowledge to help Geo win the bid. But it said that if the prison is built, Geo will pay the official a $1 million fee. The official started working as a consultant on the deal before he retired this year, the audit said. During his final three months on the job, the official used six weeks of sick leave, valued at $14,000, without any proof that he was sick. The Department of Corrections has launched an investigation as a result of the audit. If warranted, the department will refer its findings to local prosecutors, said Gary Golder, Renfrow's replacement as state director of prisons. Golder said the laws cited by the auditor do not carry specific penalties. He speculated that if charges are filed, they might be for malfeasance or official misconduct. When the audit began in June, Renfrow told a reporter he had run operations for existing prisons and that he had no role in writing the state's bid request that he later helped Geo win. He also said then that the state attorney general's office had ruled that his work on the deal was not a conflict of interest. However, the audit found no evidence that he requested or received the required state approval for his outside work.

October 13, 2006 Summit Daily News
Six private prisons in the state were fined about $131,000 for failing to staff mandatory positions, the Colorado Department of Corrections said. It was the second time such penalties were levied since a riot broke out in 2004 at the Crowley County Correctional Facility and an audit exposed staffing problems at the prisons. The department released documents this week showing the six prisons had 1,071 vacant positions from February to May. The Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington received the largest fine of $83,103 for having 567 positions open. It was docked in $103,743 previously after it left 701 jobs vacant from November to January. The center is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also runs the Crowley County Correctional Facility. Alison Morgan, the department's head of private prison monitoring, said some places have difficulty finding and retaining workers, especially in remote areas.

October 6, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday approved a $153,887 emergency supplemental request from the Colorado Department of Corrections to contract for out-of-state prison beds. The contract with Corrections Corp. of America would provide up to 720 beds at a private prison in Oklahoma, at a cost of $54 per inmate per day. The rate is higher than the $51.91 per inmate per day that Colorado pays for housing inmates at in-state private prisons, three of which are also run by CCA. Last month, officials with the DOC said they would likely start sending 200 to 300 Colorado inmates to Oklahoma this month, since all the available beds in the state will be filled. The announcement was news to the JBC, which had been assured by the department earlier this year that it would increase the number of in-state prison beds by double-bunking inmates. Thursday, committee members had concerns about the cost of monitoring and transporting prisoners out of state, as well as the apparent lack of planning on the part of the DOC. However, all but one of the committee members decided to grant the request since the state would need additional beds next year, and there were fears that the cost of contracting would go up if other states, such as California, are bidding on the same beds. In granting the request Thursday, the JBC also said it plans to send a letter to the DOC stating the committee wants to revisit the department's bed plan. Another letter would also be sent suggesting that the DOC should refrain from spending $3.5 million that had been appropriated for the double-bunking plan.

September 21, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, rallied support in Pueblo on Wednesday for a strong future fiscal plan for the Colorado Department of Corrections. Coloradoans, she added, also need to know how the DOC is going to protect its employees and the communities surrounding their facilities. McFadyen was flanked by DOC guards, Teamsters, State Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff and other Democrats during a press conference held on the steps of the Pueblo County Courthouse. She told the small crowd that the DOC has no future plans for corrections. "They testified in (legislative) session that their only plan is to house inmates," she said. "They don't set goals and objectives. McFadyen warned of the cost and repercussions of moving and accepting out-of-state inmates. She cited the July 2004 riot at the privately-owned, Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. That riot was fueled by inmates from Washington and Wyoming. And on the same day, a prison riot broke out in Mississippi, caused by inmates shipped from Colorado. "You can't put those types of populations together because, right away, the inmates from out-of-state start banding together," McFadyen said. A critic of private prisons, McFadyen said the state needs to look at the role of private prisons. "Are we saving money with private prisons? I think not."

September 16, 2006 The Gazette
The Colorado Department of Corrections is preparing to send as many as 1,000 inmates out of state — probably to two private lockups in Oklahoma — to alleviate crowding in state prisons. Alison Morgan, head of the DOC’s private-prison monitoring unit, would not discuss the department’s timetable for moving the inmates. Last month, she visited two Oklahoma prisons, the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton and the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, and she is in negotiations with the companies that run them. “Going out of state is inevitable,” she said Friday. The DOC has been warning lawmakers for months that it will soon run out of space, the result of longer sentences, a growing population and a multiyear budget crisis that canceled building projects. New private prisons to hold 3,776 inmates have been approved, and officials this year expressed optimism to the General Assembly that they could handle the state’s caseload by double-bunking inmates and finding unused space until the new prisons are built. It will be the first time since the mid-1990s that Colorado has sent a large number of inmates out of state. In 2004, 121 high-security inmates with gang affiliations were sent to a prison in Mississippi, but officials brought them back a year later after they were involved in a riot there.

July 31, 2006 The Gazette
Colorado prison officials, faced with unparalleled crowding, are poised to embark on the state’s largest private-prison expansion in years. By the time three companies build medium-security prisons for 3,776 inmates by the middle of 2008, one in three Colorado inmates will be housed in forprofit facilities. Despite the state’s growing reliance on private prisons, Department of Corrections officials still have deep concerns about the projects, and numerous issues remain that could derail them — including two companies’ insistence their cells be filled before those in state-run prisons. “I don’t believe they’re cheaper in general,” said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, a Pueblo Democrat and opponent of private prisons. “As long as you have stockholders wanting more bodies and cells, there’s no incentive for that company to reduce the number of people in prison.” “They (private-prison firms) kind of know they’ve got us over the barrel,” said Dave Schouweiler, purchasing manager for the DOC. “If we don’t use them, we’ve got to ship people out of state.” Corrections Corporation of America was awarded contracts for 720-bed expansions at its prisons in Las Animas and Burlington. At the Kit Carson Correctional Facility, the company’s original proposal called for employing just 59 guards, later revised to 64, for an expanded inmate population of 1,562, a ratio of 1 to 24. Similarly, at the Bent County Correctional Facility, the company proposed to have 61 guards — later increased to 66 — for an expanded population of 1,457, a ratio of 1 to 22. The officer-to-inmate ratio in the state prison system is 1 to 4.6, according to the DOC. It isn’t the first time staffing at a CCA prison in Colorado has been a concern. In 2004, a riot broke out at the company’s Crowley County Correctional Facility, and an audit put much of the blame on low staffing levels. CCA signed new contracts with the DOC, allowing officials to issue fines for staffing deficiencies. CCA was recently fined $103,743 for leaving 701 mandatory shifts vacant from Nov. 1 to Jan. 10 at the Kit Carson prison, Morgan said. The company was fined $23,000 for 157 unfilled shifts at the Crowley County prison and $2,651 for 18 vacancies at the Bent County prison. Private prisons pay less than state prisons, and critics say most have high turnover. Another point of contention: CCA and GEO demand to have first claim to every person sentenced to state prison. It’s a condition Schouweiler said DOC officials are not comfortable granting. But the fact the companies made it a condition of their proposals — at least so far — shows how the climate has changed since the 1990s. “To a large extent, we can’t dictate to them like we did in the ’90s,” he said. “They would like to see us in crisis when they open their doors.”

June 28, 2006 Denver Post
A Democratic state lawmaker raised safety and competitive concerns about two companies selected by the state Tuesday to build additional prison space to house more than 2,200 male prisoners. Rep. Buffie McFadyen of Pueblo West said The GEO Group Inc. has not built the 500-bed Pueblo facility it promised three years ago. She also questioned whether GEO had an unfair bidding advantage on the new 1,504-bed facility it was selected to build in Ault. The company hired Nolin Renfrow, the former state director of prisons, to help it bid on the project after Renfrow left the department, she said. Renfrow worked for corrections when the request for bids was made public. Neither Renfrow nor a representative of GEO could be reached Tuesday evening for comment. Katherine Sanguinetti, a spokeswoman for the department, said she didn't know the factors that went into selecting GEO. And, she said, "I personally know that the DOC staff that were rating those bids have had no contact with (Renfrow) to keep it objective." Earlier this month, McFadyen asked lawmakers to audit the bidding process. She also questioned why the Corrections Corporation of America was selected to expand the Bent County Correctional Facility near Las Animas by 720 beds. CCA owns and operates the Crowley County Correctional Facility where a riot broke out in 2004. McFadyen said she was concerned that the company has still not replaced the porcelain fixtures in its facilities after broken porcelain was used as a weapon during the riot.

June 28, 2006 Greeley Tribune
The state Department of Corrections on Tuesday made a decision that could alter the face of the small Weld County town of Ault. By granting Florida-based Geo Group Inc. the right to build a 1,500-bed medium security men's prison southeast of town in the next two years, the state paved the way for prisoners to outnumber residents. Negotiations between the town and Geo will begin next week on infrastructure costs and impact fees. If residents of Ault need development and economic vitality, the last place they should look at is a prison, warns a long-time private prison opponent. Frank Smith, 67, co-founder of the Private Corrections Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to monitoring private prisons, cites study after study and incident after incident pointing to the ills of private prisons. Several studies have been conducted to test markets where private prisons locate, and most conclude that prisons do not stimulate an economy any more than the regular cycles of growth that would come without the parade of orange jumpsuits. "They don't pay for themselves, they chase away safer and better industry," said Smith, who began fighting the private prison movement in Alaska in 2000 and now fights them nationwide from his home in Bluff City, Kan. "You foreclose your possibility of getting a really remunerative industry that would actually compensate people so they can make a living." While pointing out the numerous riots that have occurred in private prisons for years -- the problems that come with corporate, for-profit prison building -- Smith cites one insidious problem that has a domino effect on economic activity: Pay. Geo Group noted in discussions with Ault officials that prison employees would start at $25,000, about $3,000 less than Ault police officers. The pay is no accident, Smith said. "The biggest problems are that they cut corners and pay people so poorly they can't get trainable staff, and they wind up with a bunch of fast-food workers," Smith said. "They move to where they can pay the least." The private prison movement has sprawled across rural America in the past decade, according to Terry Besser and Margaret Hanson in a 2003 study entitled, "The Development of Last Resort: The Impact of New State Prisons on Small Town Economies." The pair studied 10 years of prisons in rural America, a time when 69 percent of the 274 new state prisons were opened in towns of 10,000 or less in population in 1990. In that time, they found the unemployment rate differed very little in small towns with prisons, versus their non-prison counterparts, but poverty levels in prison towns did decrease. "In all other economic indicators, however, the new prison towns fared worse than the non-prison towns," the study found. "The rate of increase in the number of new businesses, non-agricultural employment, average household wages, retail sales, median value of owner occupied housing and total number of housing units is substantially less in new prison vs. non-prison towns." The study showed that turnover rate in private prisons was three times higher than public prisons due to low wages and a lower level of employee training, creating employee safety concerns. The study also found that rural towns, lured by the potential development opportunities, will frequently give tax abatements and breaks, which are not commensurate with the supposed vitality a prison would bring to a community. In Ault, for example, a state contract for the men's prison could be a $28 million annual contract for Geo, which has promised just $250,000 a year to the town as an impact fee. Ault Police Chief Tracey McCoy, who sought the prison, said that's a number that will have to increase. Ault resident Ed Lesh worries about the reputation being a prison town could mean in the long run. "I don't think we've gleaned the good and bad about the facility," Lesh said. "There are some points I think should be considered. ... I don't think having the handle of being a prison town is a plus. If I were going to start a business, I don't know that I would go to Cañon City." Ault resident John Dudley believes growth will come as a result of a prison, but said the town would not see fit to make sure growth pays its own way, his chief concern when it comes to any growth that might increase town coffers in the short term. "It would be nice and wonderful if everyone could assure me it's going to be controlled growth," said Dudley, a local school board member who was on the town board when a prison in the area was proposed, then shot down in the mid 1980s. "It's not just going to soak the city, it will soak everyone in Colorado," Dudley continued. "It's going to end up where you're going to have impacts on highways and we'll have to find more money to pay for highways, and all the sudden, it will impact state patrol, and we'll have to find more people (to hire)." "I feel pity for our board because they have this tough decision to make," he said. "Do we give away things to get this, or do we just kiss more opportunity goodbye? It's a tough choice."

June 25, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
The state has levied fines of $126,000 for short-staffing at two private prisons run by Corrections Corp. of America, which just won a contract to incarcerate 720 more Colorado prisoners. The new inmates will go to a different CCA prison in Las Animas, which had only minor staffing violations during inspections last winter. The fines are the first in Colorado. The penalties were recommended by a searing state auditor's report on the private prisons last year. The audit was prompted by a riot at the CCA prison in Crowley County in 2004. An inquiry found that CCA's staff-to-inmate ratio was one-seventh of a state prison's at the time. Only 33 uniformed officers were guarding 1,122 inmates. Staffing has improved since the fines were levied, said Alison Morgan, the state's supervisor of private prisons. CCA's Kit Carson County prison in Burlington, near the Colorado- Kansas state line, was fined $103,743 for leaving 701 required shifts empty in a 10-week period from Nov. 1 to Jan. 10, records show. That's about 10 people short per day over three shifts. The missing staff members were largely guards in various locations. On five shifts, the supervisor was missing, and on 44 shifts, there was no assistant supervisor. The fines could have been much higher. The state waived nearly $46,000 of penalties for October 2005 at the Kit Carson prison, saying it was unfair to enforce the contract only a few days after it was signed in September. Documents say state officials complained that in November, there were 435 cases in which employees did not sign out, making it impossible for state inspectors to know if the short-staffing had been even worse. CCA's Crowley County prison in Olney Springs was fined nearly $23,000 for leaving 157 shifts open in the same period. It, too, was given a reprieve for October's fines, which would have been $18,000.

March 6, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
Eighteen months ago, inmates rioted at a private prison in Crowley County, setting fires, smashing everything in two cell houses and seriously damaging another three. More than 100 officers were needed to stop the violence, which injured 13. A state investigation blamed the riot on mismanagement by Corrections Corp. of America, the prison's owner. The company had 33 guards overseeing 1,122 inmates when the riot began. The state Department of Corrections tightened its contract with CCA to require more and better trained staff. Now, the company has a major advantage in bidding for 2,250 new private prison beds that Colorado urgently needs for its soaring number of convicts. Although several companies have expressed interest in the work, CCA already has the land and the necessary zoning. That could make it the only bidder capable of meeting the state's demand that the first 750 beds open in less than two years. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections is unclear on whether it can consider the riot in evaluating bids. At first, department spokesman Walt Ahrens said it cannot. "Procurement rules do not allow the department to negatively evaluate a new proposal from CCA because of a past riot at a CCA facility," he said in an e-mail. Later, the department pointed to the bid document, which says that evaluators will consider information about the bidder's past performance, but only if the bidder brings it up in its proposal. Still later, the department said it can request further information on such incidents "as long as the bidders are treated essentially the same." Finally, it said, "We are not going to speculate on what may happen. The process has just begun." But awarding the contract to CCA would make Colorado even more reliant on the company, a critic says. CCA "has a track record at Crowley that would make anybody question whether they are competent to run a prison," said Christie Donner, of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, which opposes all private prisons. In Colorado, a state investigation issued a blistering report after the riot at CCA's 1,800-bed Crowley County Correctional Center in Olney Springs in 2004. The report said that CCA's staff-to-inmate ratio was one-seventh of a state prison's and that management ignored signs of trouble. A new contract between Colorado and CCA requires more staff, better training, increased medical care and better food. A state audit also found fault with the state Department of Corrections, citing insufficient inspections and a practice of keeping dangerous inmates at a medium-security private prison, in violation of state law. Dave Schouweiler of the Corrections Department said it would be convenient to have a private lockup adjacent to a state prison. But state prisons pay about 50 percent better and it would be difficult for a private prison to compete for staff, he said. Though CCA has an advantage of speed and cost efficiencies of existing facilities, it's not the only potential bidder. George Killinger of Cornell Cos., which houses 18,000 inmates nationwide, noted that the state's proposal calls for 750 beds each opening in February 2008, August 2008 and August 2009. He said that allows the possibility of building one large prison with a cost-effective central administration, instead of several smaller ones. Other prospective bidders include Emerald Correctional Management, of Shreveport, La.; the Geo Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., which is ready to start construction on a 500-bed, specialized preparole prison in Pueblo; GRW Corp., which runs a private women's prison in Brush; Larry Small and Associates, of Hattiesburg, Miss., which is pushing a patented design that allows guards to see all prisoners at all times; and Management and Training Corp.

February 28, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A private prison company is looking at Fremont County as the possible home for two private prisons that could grow to a 4,250-inmate population. So with nearly 8,000 inmates already living here, can the county take on more than half that number in new inmates? Management Training Corp., based in Centerville, Utah, is hoping so. The corporation runs private prisons throughout the U.S. including Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, and now is checking out Fremont County for two potential private prisons. Consultant Nolin Renfrow, who retired from the Colorado Department of Corrections after a 28-year career, is taking on the developer role in an attempt to bring all the players together to make it happen."I was intrigued by MTC - a private business, a refreshing group with solid credentials. They are heavy into programs and working with the inmates and I am just pro-corrections. . . . I believe there are certain people who need to be locked up. "I hate the thought of turning some inmates loose if there are not enough beds. So, here I am, hoping to oversee the programming, designing and construction, then I'll turn the keys over to MTC," Renfrow said. MTC has decided to submit a proposal for both the two new private prisons and hired Renfrow to come up with a plan.

February 24, 2006 AP
A former state corrections official says financial considerations are forcing lawmakers in Colorado and many other states to let private companies operate their prisons. Nolan Renfro directed a handful of private prisons and numerous state facilities before leaving the Colorado Department of Corrections. He's now working with a Utah-based company that wants to build a 4,250 bed prison near Canon City.

January 5, 2006 Denver Post
Colorado's Front Range is the preferred site for the state's largest private prison, which planners hope will help handle a population boom of inmates over the next five years. The state is asking private groups for proposals to build a 2,250-bed medium-security facility for men somewhere along the Interstate 25 corridor from the north Denver metro area, south to Pueblo and west to Cañon City. "We are dealing with a logjam," said Alison Morgan, the Colorado Department of Prison's chief of private-prison monitoring. Colorado has six private prisons, and all are at or near capacity, including the Crowley County building, which is the largest at 1,037 prisoners, she said. Private prisons in Colorado collected $53 million to house 2,800 inmates in 2004, and supporters say they provide needed jobs in small communities and help boost local economies. But critics claim that the state is relying too much on private companies to house dangerous criminals. A state auditor's report last spring said lax oversight is a problem in private facilities and helped lead to a riot at the Crowley prison in 2004. The audit also found that of the nine inmates who died between January 2001 and September 2004, two of the deaths may have been caused by physicians who changed medications without physically examining the inmates. "I have real concerns about who works in these facilities," said state Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFayden, D-Pueblo West, a critic of private prisons.

January 4, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
Colorado has already run out of prison space for its most dangerous inmates and will run out of room for any new prisoners later this year. That dire warning came in a briefing about the Department of Corrections to the Joint Budget Committee by its staff Tuesday. "The inmate population is continuing to grow, and we don't have a place to put them," JBC analyst Karl Spiecker said. Already, the DOC is violating state law by housing 70 of its highest-security prisoners in private prisons, Spiecker said. Private prisons have 25 percent fewer guards than state prisons, he added. Colorado also could ship inmates to private prisons out of state, but it has pulled back all of its prisoners from such facilities due to serious problems. Most recently, Colorado brought 121 of its most dangerous prisoners home from Mississippi after they were involved in two riots in an under-staffed private facility there. A 2005 state audit found that Colorado had sent leaders of prison gangs involved in six disturbances in Colorado facilities to the Mississippi lock-up. Guards there sparked a riot by opening the cell doors for all the Colorado inmates at once. Rival gangs immediately attacked each other.

November 12, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
The nation's largest private prison operator has agreed to state-mandated reforms at its four Colorado prisons 14 months after a riot tore through its Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. Corrections Corp. of America, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., signed new contracts with the Colorado Department of Corrections in September that address a host of problems uncovered in the wake of a riot by some 300 inmates on July 20, 2004. Similar contract requirements and state oversight also will apply to two other non-CCA private prisons in Brush and Colorado Springs to ensure consistency. Those prisons house more than 500 inmates. The new contract requires increased staffing levels at CCA facilities, better staff training and emergency preparedness, increased medical and mental health services for inmates, improved food standards, and state takeover of inmate financial accounts. While some of those issues were not considered direct causes of the 2004 riot, all have been cited as trouble spots that may have fed the discontent that finally erupted into violence and destruction at the Crowley County facility. During the riot, inmates ransacked two cellhouses and prison offices, destroyed furniture, smashed doors and windows, and set dozens of fires, one of which burned down the prison greenhouse. Two inmates were seriously injured and several received minor injuries. The Department of Corrections found afterward that the Crowley prison had only 33 uniformed officers supervising 1,122 inmates and that some officers had been on the job two days or less. When inmates began damaging property, the small force of officers withdrew from the yard and cellhouses, and the riot quickly grew. Staff size and training were central concerns in the DOC report issued two months after the riot. But a Legislative Audit Committee report last April found other unequal conditions between state and private prisons that could breed future riots. But the staffing shortage seen as a major problem in the Crowley riot remains a difficult problem for CCA. The company has agreed to maintain staff sizes closer to those at comparable state-run medium-security prisons and to train officers to state standards. But a gap remains between the salaries of state and private prison staff members that has led to high employee turnover. The state's post-riot report found the average monthly salary for private prison officers was about two-thirds that of state officers. CCA has raised salaries every year despite decreases in Colorado's compensation rate since 2003 because of state budget cuts, Owen said. He did not disclose current CCA salaries. "It is a challenge in trying to make salaries competitive with what is paid by the state," Owen said.

October 13, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The Colorado Department of Corrections has dramatically improved its oversight of private prisons in the state, prisons officials told lawmakers last week. In giving the Legislative Audit Committee an update on changes it has made in how it manages the state's five private prisons, DOC director of prison operations Nolin Renfrow told lawmakers that all is well. That audit he was referring to was a scathing report released in June that criticized the department for being lax in its oversight of private prisons and ignoring problems with them for years. Prompted by a riot at the Crowley County Correction Facility in Olney Springs last year, the audit said DOC knew or should have known about numerous problems concerning the operations of the prisons but did little to nothing to correct them. The state audit said the department diverted DOC workers whose job was to monitor private prisons to other duties, and failed to enforce operations rules and regulations. And in those instances when the department's private prison monitoring units did discover problems, the department failed to follow up to ensure that corrections were made, the audit said. Four of those facilities are operated by the same Nashville-based company, Corrections Corporation of American. In additional to the Crowley County facility, CCA also operates private prisons in Bent, Huerfano and Kit Carson counties. A fifth private facility that houses female inmates is located in Brush. It is owned by the Brentwood, Tenn.-based GRW Corporation.

October 7, 2005 The Gazette
Private prisons in Colorado could face cash penalties for failing to meet minimum safety standards under new contracts negotiated by the Department of Corrections in the wake of a stinging audit. In June, an audit of Colorado's private prisons, which house about 2,800 of Colorado's 18,000 prisoners, found numerous problems, including inadequate staffing levels, unlicensed medical clinics, employees with criminal backgrounds and poor food services. Thursday, corrections officials gave state lawmakers an update on their response to the audit. For instance, private prisons will be fined if staffing levels do not meet minimum standards or if the meals they feed prisoners are not up to par. "I'm not sure the liquidated damages have enough hammer to them," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. Corrections officials said they need time to see if the new penalty system works.

July 8, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
Waste is in the eye of the beholder.  Opponents of two fall ballot measures that would boost state spending say government doesn't need more money because it wastes what it has now.  They drafted a report this month detailing that alleged overspending.  But much of what the report calls overspending - including locking up drug users, prosecuting anti-trust cases and employing a lieutenant governor - others call core government functions.  The Independence Institute, a think tank based in Golden, identified the alleged government waste in a draft report it recently posted online by mistake. The "Piglet Report," at www.taxincrease.org,warns voters against ballot measures Referendum C and Referendum D. Two of the priciest overspending examples the institute cites are $3 billion in an unfunded liability for a state pension program - money that the state is not, in fact, spending at the moment - and up to $53 million for private prisons, which cost the state less per-inmate than public prisons.  Examples of alleged government waste identified in a draft report by the Independence Institute:  • Up to $53 million on private prisons, for which the report says the legislature "is not getting good value for its money."

June 27, 2005
Tribune Capital Bureau
CHEYENNE -- Scarcity of space and a recent sexual misconduct scandal have prompted state officials to move the 54 prison inmates Wyoming currently houses at private facilities in Colorado to Texas by the end of the summer.  But by the end of 2007, Wyoming expects to have all of its prisoners housed within the state's borders, according to Wyoming Department of Corrections spokeswoman Melinda Brazzale. Brazzale said a lack of available private prison space in Colorado prompted Wyoming officials to begin consideration of moving state inmates out of Colorado. Contributing to the decision were allegations of sexual misconduct between prison guards and inmates at a private prison in Brush, Colo., where Wyoming had been housing 38 female inmates. Those inmates have since been moved out of Colorado.

June 26, 2005 Loveland FYI
This we know: • More prisoners exist in Colorado than there are cells in the state’s prisons. • No new prisons are under construction. • No money is available to build new prisons even if the state wanted to. Thus, Colorado is stuck with using private prisons whose operators contract with the state to incarcerate prisoners who won’t fit in the state-run system. It stands to reason that because incarceration is part of the judicial system and an essential function of government, the state should do all that it can to make sure all parts of the system — including private prisons — work according to the law. Colorado’s Department of Corrections has done a horrible job of monitoring the five-unit private prison system and has violated state law in the process. So says an audit of the private prison system conducted after a riot at the Crowley facility. The scathing audit left little cover for the DOC. The agency simply blew it. While required by law to monitor the private prison system, the DOC failed to reasonably do its job. In fact, the Legislature provided additional funding for staff so that monitoring could occur, but the DOC diverted those employees to other functions. The DOC knew about problems but ignored them, said the audit report. Inmates judged to be high security risks were sent to private prisons in violation of the law. Mental health treatment was not offered as required to those needing it. Medical centers at private prisons are not certified. Inadequate background checks were conducted on private prison employees. Sex offenders were given earned time off for treatment that they didn’t attend. It would be far better for Colorado to own and operate all of its prisons itself to assure better accountability. But the decision made several years ago for financial reasons to contract with private prison operators can’t be easily undone. The DOC must do a better job of overseeing the contracts, and the Legislature should consider a gradual process of bringing private prisons back into the public fold. In the future, if the state continues to struggle with having the capital funds to build new prisons, it should give more consideration to the idea of letting private entities build prisons and lease them back to the state to operate.

June 14, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The Colorado Department of Corrections has been lax in its oversight of private prisons, and has ignored known problems for years, according to a scathing state audit released Monday. Prompted by a riot at a private prison in Crowley County last year, the audit said DOC's inability to properly manage the five private facilities operating in the state led to numerous inmate problems, and could spark more. The audit said that the department knew about specific problems with how private prisons were being operated, but did little to nothing to correct them. And when the DOC did point out violations to private facilities, it failed to ensure that they were corrected, the audit said. "Noted violations by the private prisons are not being addressed by the department, and have been allowed to continue unresolved," the audit stated. "Furthermore, the department has not instituted a systemic follow-up process to ensure that its recommendations are follow by the private prisons or that documented violations are corrected." The audit found that the DOC used employees whose jobs were to monitor private prisons do other work, failed to enforce rules and regulations on how they are to operate, and was shoddy in how it monitored private facilities. Nolin Renfrow, director of prison operations for DOC, admitted that the department has made mistakes in its oversight of private prisons, but chalked it up to inexperience. "We have over 150 years experience running our own prisons, but only five dealing with private facilities," Renfrow said following the audit report. "We're learning as we go." Currently, there are five private prisons operating in the state, four of which are owned by the same national private prison firm: Corrections Corp. of America based in Nashville, Tenn. CCA operates facilities in Bent, Huerfano, Crowley and Kit Carson counties. A fifth private facility, which houses females, is located in Brush. It is operated by GRW Corporation based in Brentwood, Tenn. Steve Owen, CCA spokesman, said that while the audit was not about his company per se, CCA takes its role in working with DOC seriously and will help the department address concerns raised in the report. Still, Owen said the audit was a little too general to help the company address specific concerns. "We're a partner to the Department of Corrections and we view ourselves as apart of the system," Owen said. "The conclusions and the observations were so general for the most part, it's hard to specifically identify what specific things apply to our direct operations. The report doesn't lend itself to identifying specific things to specific facilities." One part of the report, for example, says that a mental health providers were not meeting with seriously mental ill inmates, but didn't say at which facility. Another section of the report, however, says that the medical staff at the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas administered two medications to an inmate that led to his death. Another death occurred at a different private facility in Kit Carson County when an inmate's medication was changed. Both are operated by CCA. "We identified two cases where physicians changed the inmates' medications without examining them," the audit said. "Department clinical and administrative records indicate that medication changes made by private prison staff potentially contributed to the death of these inmates." Owen said he knew nothing about those deaths, and questioned whether they occurred at CCA facilities. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West and an outspoken critic of private prisons, said the audit supports what she's been saying all along, that they have no place in Colorado. "These for-profit prisons would have a hard time passing even the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America oath: 'On my honor I will do my best,' " McFadyen said. "It's clear that the for-profit prison industry has no desire to follow their contracts, and it is costing taxpayers money every day. This year, the state could've spent $ 1.1 million on heath care, job creation or tourism. Instead, we had to spend that money to watch over private prison facilities that aren't doing their jobs and putting the public safety at risk." McFadyen was referring to additional money the Legislature gave to the DOC to add positions to its private prison monitoring unit. The audit said that the department has 15 monitoring unit positions, but that only four were actually going to the prisons. Additionally, one of those positions, for a unit operations manager, has been vacant for three years. Yet, the DOC asked the Legislature for five new private prison investigators and two additional monitoring unit workers. Renfrow said that cuts to the department's overall budget in recent years forced it to use some of those workers for other duties. The audit said that the monitoring units that did visit facilities missed numerous required inspections and filed incomplete reports. Auditors were particularly alarmed that the units failed to conduct the security and emergency activation drills it was suppose to, particularly one at the Crowley County facility at which a riot occurred last summer. "Of particular concern, we noted that the monitoring unit had never conducted an emergency activation drill at the one private prison that experienced a riot in July 2004, and only produced monitoring reports for one-third of the targeted weekly inspections at this facility during fiscal year 2004," the audit said. "Additionally, we identified several weekly inspection reports and security audits that appeared to copy the findings from prior inspection reports, changing only the date and time of the audit work performed," the audit said. "Department management does not review these reports, so management was not aware that the reports contained errors."

June 14, 2005 Colorado Springs Gazette
Two Colorado inmates died last year because their prescription medications were changed by unlicensed medical clinics in private prisons, according to a stinging audit that charged the state with lax oversight of an out-of-control private prison system. The Colorado Department of Corrections houses about 2,800 of its 18,000 inmates in six private prisons. Five are in Colorado, and one is in Missouri. It cost taxpayers $53 million in 2004. An audit of those prisons released Monday found numerous problems: inadequate staffing levels, unlicensed medical clinics, employees with criminal backgrounds, poor food services and more. The audit laid much of the fault with the state corrections officials, saying the state did a shabby job of monitoring and enforcing standards in private prisons. The state’s private prison monitoring unit has been plagued by job vacancies and only spends a fraction of the time it should at the prisons evaluating conditions and addressing problems, the audit found. “I think, from our audit perspective, we identified substantial compliance issues,” said Cindi Stetson, the deputy state auditor who managed the project. For instance, the audit found that private prison monitors filed reports that were copies of old documents that merely had a new date. Top level managers reportedly didn’t review private prison reports anyway. Additionally, not all the people assigned to monitor private prisons were doing that. Fifteen employees were allocated to that unit, but four were assigned to other duties and the key unit manager job was left vacant for three years. Corrections officials said they have not done a good job regulating private prisons but insisted they are taking steps to fix the problem. “We’ve taken the recommendations very seriously,” said Nolin Renfrow, director of prisons. “We feel confident we are headed in the right direction.” Renfrow said staffing has been beefed up in the office and that computers will track compliance reports. Additionally, he said top executives will pay closer attention to private prisons. As to the specific problems, DOC officials say they are tightening the contracts with private prison providers to force them to take care of the issues. Many of those new contracts take effect July 1. New stipulations will require private prisons have a licensed medical clinic. That’s a response to one of the main findings in the audit. “None of the clinics in Colorado’s five private prisons are licensed,” said auditor John Conley. “Since the clinics are not licensed, they are not monitoring them and are not aware of any deaths or problems at private prisons.” Nine deaths at private prisons last year were not reported to the Colorado Department of Health, as they should have been, the auditors said. So there was no investigation. The auditors said seven of the deaths were from natural causes, but two were linked to medical complications after prison operators changed prescription drugs. No other details were provided. The findings outraged lawmakers. “Obviously, they have been having a free-for-all in practicing medicine the way they wish for a long time,” said Sen. Deanna Hanna, D-Lakewood. “We are paying a lot of money to these private prisons for health care, and we need to get a better product than we are getting.” The audit found problems in many private prison practices, including their hiring standards, the nutritional value of their food and their staffing levels. The audit didn’t specify which private prisons were having the most problems. But four of the five prisons in Colorado are owned and run by the Tennessee-based Correction Corporation of America. Company officials said they are reviewing the audit and promised more efficiency and accountability. “We certainly would embrace that goal and have been working and will continue to work with our customer, the Department of Corrections, to enhance both of those,” said Steven Owen, a spokesman for the firm. A 500-bed, privately run prison under construction on East Las Vegas Street near the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center is scheduled to open in August. The medium security facility will be operated by New Jersey-based Community Education Centers. The prison, called the Cheyenne Mountain Pre-release Center, will house parole violators and inmates making the transition into society or to community corrections after serving state prison sentences. Its purpose is to reduce recidivism by giving inmates about 180 days of vocational training, drug and alcohol counseling, adult education classes and other last-minute lessons they can apply outside prison. Joe Ortiz, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, said part of his agency’s problem is funding. “When we talk about medical, we talk about food, we talk about programs . . . that always comes with a price tag,” he said. “That’s not to say the department hasn’t been remiss in some areas, but it is a difficult mission, and it is difficult to provide all of these services given the current budget conditions.” The department’s budget was cut during the recession but has seen much of that funding restored in the past two years. The approved budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year, which starts July 1, is $589.2 million, a 6 percent increase. Lawmakers say they will take a hard look at the issues surrounding private prisons. “It’s clear that the for-profit prison industry has no desire to follow their contracts, and it is costing taxpayers money every day,” said Rep. Liane “Buffie” McFadyen, D-Pueblo West. KEY FINDINGS - None of the clinics at private prisons are licensed with the state. At least two inmates who were treated in those clinics died last year when their prescriptions were changed. Those deaths were not reported to state officials. - Inmates with serious mental illnesses were not seen by mental health staff in a timely manner. - Private prisons are serving meals that do not meet the state’s dietary standards. - The DOC doesn’t review staffing patterns at private prisons as part of their contracts. - Some private prison employees have questionable backgrounds, including some who have been convicted of violent crimes. In some instances, private prison employees begin working before a background check is completed. - Private prisons are not properly deducting court-ordered inmate restitution and child support. - The Department of Corrections office charged with monitoring private prisons was understaffed and didn’t get the job done. - Dangerous inmates were sent to some private prisons even though state law stipulates private prisons should only house medium security prisoners and lower.

June 14, 2005 Denver Post
Privately owned prisons in Colorado fall far short of minimum safety and medical standards, possibly resulting in the deaths of two inmates and the early release of a sex offender, according to an audit released Monday. Part of the problem, the report from the state auditor's office said, is lax state oversight of the private prisons, which collected $53 million to house 2,800 inmates in 2004. The audit's key findings: Nine inmates died between January 2001 and September 2004. Two of those deaths may have been caused by physicians who changed medications without physically examining the inmates. A sexual offender was released from prison three months early because officials awarded him credits for treatment sessions he didn't attend.  None of the five private prisons in Colorado have licensed medical clinics. Four private-prison employees had previous convictions for motor-vehicle theft, assault, criminal mischief and harassment. Staffing levels are lower at private prisons than at state institutions, with the worst ratio at the Crowley County prison, where inmates rioted last year. Steve Owen, spokesman for Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates four of the five private prisons in Colorado, declined to comment on the audit, saying he had not yet read it. But he said his company meets the standards set by a national trade association for private prisons. "We are doing our part to help the state be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollar," said Owen.  Last year, the prison company settled a lawsuit brought by Tamara Schlitters, the mother of Jeffrey Buller, a 26-year-old inmate who died 27 hours before he was to be released from the company's prison in Kit Carson County in 2001. Buller suffered from a hereditary condition that caused his breathing passages to swell. Despite his pleas, the company wouldn't spend $35 on the medicine he needed during his final 10 days in the prison, according to the lawsuit. Instead, he was switched to another drug. James Gillies, the lawyer for Schlitters, said the case was "heartbreaking" because Schlitters was planning a welcome-home party for her only son. Instead, the guests attended a funeral. Buller was in prison for a sexual encounter with an underage teenage girl. The Department of Corrections acknowledged the shortcomings and promised to fix them. Joe Ortiz, executive director of the department, said tight state budgets have contributed to some of the problems. "It is difficult to provide all of these services, given the current budget condition the state is in," Ortiz said. "Sometimes you want platinum treatment when you're paying for copper fare." The audit tied many of the problems to lax oversight by the Department of Corrections.   Since 2002, department officials knew they were failing to enforce a contract requirement that private prisons operate licensed medical clinics. None of the five private prisons in Colorado are licensed by the state Department of Public Health and Environment, the audit said. Lawmakers on the Legislative Audit Committee chided state corrections officials for failing to enforce the rules in the contracts. "Two departments have dropped the ball," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. "I don't understand why this has been let go so long." Ortiz said that hiring medical professionals in rural communities is difficult - and even more complicated for prison operators. Still, he acknowledged the problem. "We were lax in our supervision of medical staff," he said. Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-820-1794 or mcouch@denverpost.com.

June 14, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
Colorado's private prisons are riddled with problems that allowed some sex offenders out early, contributed to a riot, and may have led to two inmate deaths, a state audit declared Monday. And state officials failed to monitor the prisons effectively, auditors said in a report to a legislative committee. The report alleges that operators of five private prisons broke provisions of their contracts with the state through deficient security, hiring, health care and even food. Prison doctors twice changed prescriptions for inmates without examining the patients first, auditors said. Both men died, possibly as a result. And doctors often delayed required services for mentally ill prisoners, the report said. Auditors also criticized the state Department of Corrections, which runs its own prisons and regulates private companies that manage lockups in Colorado. They said state prison officials placed violent inmates in the private facilities, violating the law. State monitors didn't find, ignored or didn't follow up on prison problems. Inspectors didn't work as much or as long as they were supposed to; some simply copied old oversight reports and slapped new dates on them. About 2,800 of the state's 18,000 prisoners are in private facilities. The state paid more than $53 million in the 2004-05 fiscal year to house them. Prison officials estimate it would cost more than $200 million - $75,000 a bed - to build enough public prisons. The state auditor's office studied private prison conditions and the state's oversight of them from September 2004 to March. Its report frustrated several legislators. "I don't understand . . . why this has been let go so long," said Rep. Fran Colemen, D-Denver. Added Sen. Deanna Hanna, D-Lakewood, "We need to get a better product than we're getting." Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, a leading critic of private prisons, said legislators need to crack down on prison operators and perhaps shake up the corrections department. State officials pledged stricter oversight, starting with new financial penalties for prison contractors if they fail to meet future contracts. Corrections department officials also said they didn't have enough staff to enforce contracts and the law - a claim the audit disputed - and suggested that decreased state support and corporate pressures led to problems in private prisons. The state's per-inmate payments to private prisons dropped 4 percent from 2000 to 2004. Joe Ortiz, executive director of the corrections department, asked reporters Monday to think like private-prison wardens, operating under budgets and under fire from Wall Street, as they try to provide inmate services such as health care. "Do you think they're going to go overboard?" he asked. Alison Morgan, DOC spokeswoman, later said the audit "clearly brought to light some significant failures on our part" but didn't reflect private prison monitors' hard work. Corrections Corp. of America, which runs four of Colorado's private prisons, "will do all we can to answer and address the concerns raised in the report," spokesman Steve Owen said. Some lawmakers defended private prisons. Rep. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, asked whether problems in private facilities are any worse than in public prisons. Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, said private prisons play "a significant role" in Colorado corrections. "By and large, they're doing a good job," White said, "and we can't live without them." The audit caps a bad year for private prisons in Colorado. Several employees of a women's prison in Brush were charged this winter with having sex with inmates; investigations revealed the prison hired some workers with criminal records. Inmates rioted at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in July 2004. An October audit spanked the prison operator, Corrections Corp. of America, for employing an inexperienced and undermanned staff at the time of the riot. Monday's audit also criticized staffing levels in private prisons as inferior to those in public prisons. Among its other findings: • The corrections department didn't force prison operators to act after doctors changed two inmates' prescriptions without examining them first. Both patients died, and investigators concluded staff errors contributed to at least one death. Corrections department officials also didn't require prison clinics to obtain state licenses, as mandated by law. And they didn't inspect any clinics from May 2003 to December 2004. • Corrections officials illegally sent 79 inmates classified as posing more than "medium" risks in danger and violence to private facilities in 2004. State law says the most violent prisoners must be housed in state-run facilities. • Private prisons routinely deviate from the state's "master menu" for inmates, often because they run out of food on the list. That can jeopardize prison security. It's a contract violation that state officials recognized in 2003 but did nothing about. • Three-quarters of mentally ill inmates who arrive in private prisons don't get an initial appointment with a mental-health practitioner within a state-mandated time frame. • Private prisons sometimes shaved time from the sentences of sex offenders who did not complete treatment programs. Such programs are supposed to be mandatory for sentence reduction. • Four of about 300 prison workers had "questionable backgrounds." A fifth never was subjected to a background check. A check of prison visitors also found some with criminal convictions that should have disqualified them from visiting prisoners. • State monitors were "inadequate and ineffective" in their oversight of private prisons. Inspectors missed assigned visits to facilities, stayed about half as long as required and, auditors said, sometimes filed reports identical to those of previous weeks. Auditors noted that legislators increased the monitoring unit's budget by 40 percent from 2003 to 2005 and questioned its staffing allocation. They said monitors showed no written evidence of following up on contract concerns with prison operators. Corrections officials defended their staffing and pledged to assign more monitors in the future. They also agreed to each of the auditors' 16 recommendations for improvement. They promised to insert stricter enforcement clauses into new contracts, including the right to dock money from private operators if performance isn't met. Officials said they'd changed management in the monitoring division but wouldn't say if any employees were disciplined over the report's allegations. A second audit released Monday also criticized corrections officials for poor contract oversight. The audit looked at inmate health care services provided by private doctors. It said the state could have saved $2.5 million over the course of a year by regulating provider rates differently, and said the corrections department provides "minimal oversight" of contractor performance. CCA's prison record • November 1998: CCA opens the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington. Nine months later, the prison is investigated over allegations of drug smuggling and charges that up to 15 female employees were having sex with prisoners. In 2003 the prison is sued in federal court after an inmate dies the night before his scheduled release after allegedly being denied prescription medicine. • July 1998: Six inmates escape from CCA's Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown. According to the University of Wisconsin, at least 79 inmates escaped from CCA prisons from 1995 to 1998. • November 2000: Seven guards from the federal penitentiary in Florence are indicted on 55 counts of using beatings, bribes and torture to control inmates. • July 2003: The state renews CCA's Kit Carson contract and pays the company more money to run the Florence prison. • July 2004: Two weeks after the beating death of a female inmate in a CCA facility in Nashville, two riots break out in CCA prisons in Colorado and Mississippi. A Department of Corrections report finds that the Colorado prison was not fully staffed at the time of the riot and that some employees had been on the job only a couple of days. • January 2004: The Tulsa World reports a 400 percent increase in prisoner deaths in an Oklahoma prison since CCA took over operations.

Colorado Legislature  
July 24, 2013 coloradopols.com

POLS UPDATE: Joint Budget Committee leadership slams Senate Republicans on this issue in a letter today: This letter responds to a letter dated July 19, 2013, from the Senate Republican Caucus addressed to you.  In that letter, the senators indicate concerns regarding the Colorado salary survey, specifically that it “has not been conducted according to best practices, or according to statutory requirements for determination and comparisons of total compensation.”  As evidence, they cite the salaries of private corrections employees as compared to public corrections employees, and indicate a belief that the Department does not use private prisons as data points when conducting salary surveys… Public safety is a core mission of state government.  Prisons perform a complex and vital function and must have competent, professional and committed staff to operate safely and well.  A “race to the bottom” on corrections employee salaries would certainly diminish the safety of our prisons, increase recidivism, and potentially put workers and Coloradans at risk.  We are troubled by the discrepancy between salaries at state run and private facilities that the Senate Republicans helpfully point to, as well as the significant differences in staffing levels between the two types of institutions.  We think that reflects a problem in the private, for profit prison industry.  We are interested in ensuring that the private prisons corporations with which the state contracts are meeting the same stated goal we have set for the state’s personnel system of providing total compensation that ensures the “recruitment, motivation and retention of a qualified and competent workforce.” Imagine your day as a correctional officer. You get up, put on your uniform and protective gear, and go to work in a stressful, tense environment. Your clients are incarcerated people, some of whom will be verbally abusive, many of whom are despairing, potentially violent, or dangerous. Your job is to protect the inmates from each other, help them to rehabilitate themselves, and to keep the public safe from your clients. Sound challenging? How about a 33% pay cut to sweeten the deal? On Friday, July 19, 2013, fifteen Republican senators wrote a letter to Director of Personnel Kathy Nesbitt, proposing to change the method which determines correctional personnel salaries in Colorado. The Senators opined that the existing salary survey was flawed, because it didn’t compare public correctional officer salaries to those of workers in private for-profit prisons. If Nesbitt adopts the recommendations of the senators, it could result in a 33% pay cut for state employee prison personnel, an average pay cut of $17,000 per employee per year. In Colorado, most of the 4000 correctional officers are unionized, on the union pay scale, and working in publicly funded prison facilities. 16% of correctional officers are working in privately owned for-profit facilities, and most of these are paid 33% less than their public-sector counterparts. Why are these 15 senators suddenly targeting the wallets of Colorado prison guards? Although the senators stated goal in seeking to change the salary study parameters is to avoid a “continuing detrimental effect on the state budget”, by targeting “The Department of Corrections, as the department with the most personnel in the state and most representative of the average state employee”, this claim does not stand up to investigation. Instead, the letter from the Republican Senators appears to be a pushback against a recent legislative victory by the Colorado WINS union. Senate Bill 210, signed into law on May 24, 2013, and sponsored by Senator Angela Giron and Rep. Crisanta Duran, facilitated overtime pay for officers working double shifts, and otherwise improved inconsistent or unfair correctional officer pay and working conditions. This was a much-needed reform. The same bill repurposed Fort Lyons as a rehabilitation center for homeless veterans. Passage of SB210 is rightfully seen as a victory for the Colorado WINS union, and a legislative win for Giron and Duran. Private prisons in Colorado are standing empty, or are partially filled.  Corrections  Corporation of America (CCA) , is Colorado’s largest private prison company. However, CCA only has a 23% “market share” of Colorado inmates, and only 16% of prison staff work in private prisons.  Incarceration in Colorado is down by a third, over the last decade, according to Imse, who credits new sentencing structures and prison policies, which allow time off for good behavior. Less incarceration for marijuana offenses may also be a factor, since the passage of amendment 64. This is not a friendly environment for expanding CCA's for-profit prison system in Colorado. There is simply not a need for private prison beds. Currently, CCA operates five facilities in Colorado, including facilities for juveniles and immigrants. Their continuing maintenance is seen as a support for jobs in struggling Colorado towns, where often the prison is a major employer. CCA, although limited in scope in Colorado, is extremely profitable nationwide; The company had almost 3 billion in assets at the end of the third quarter of 2013. Therefore, since there is no need for expansion of private prisons in Colorado, and in fact some public and private prisons may be closed or repurposed, how is CCA to maintain its profitability in our state? Obviously, by cutting wages and expenses of operation. Hence, the suggested pay cut of the unionized prison staff, by the fourteen Republican Senators. What would the Senators get out of this? Although they say that this would save the state money, in fact it will not; If 3500 prison staff people each lose $17,000 a year,  Colorado's economy would take a $60 million hit. Although CCA profits would improve, the welfare of Coloradans as a whole would decline, along with, probably, conditions and safety within Colorado prisons. The WINS letter responding to the Senators reminds them of a riot at Crowley CF, in which the low-paid private staff walked out, leaving the public workers to deal with the problem. So if the proposed salary decrease won't save the state budget, nor improve conditions in Colorado prisons, why are the Senators recommending it? In my opinion,  intensive lobbying by CCA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)  is the motive behind the Senator's proposal. CCA and ALEC are both extremely conservative organizations. They share a goal of expanding the for-profit prison system, and ALEC, additionally, has a goal of weakening public sector unions. Both goals are achieved by the Senator's proposal. CCA is a corporation;  ALEC works with state legislatures all over the United States to further a conservative social agenda. ALEC creates “sample” bills which are then adapted for use in different states. Approximately 80% of CCA political contributions go to Republican and conservative legislators; 20% go to Democratic and liberal legislators. According to Colorado Common Cause's report, "Prisons and Profits: Political Expenditures of the Private Prison Industry", within Colorado, CCA has given over $200,000 to lobby for legislation to expand private prisons and weaken employee unions. The money trail is exceedingly clear.** Special recipients of CCA largess and ALEC direction are legislators Jerou, Lambert, Baumgardner, and Brophy. Every other legislator signing the letter requesting the prison staff salary decrease has  either been working with ALEC lobbyists, or has received funds from CCA-funded PACS, or both. Three of the signatories for the Nesbitt letter are ALEC members. (this link opens the "Prisons and Profits" pdf report. All of the signing senators have received contributions from conservative and republican PACS funded by  CCA. The Senators attacking the paychecks of prison guards and staff are, themselves, being paid off by campaign funding from conservative political PACS, in order to weaken public employee unions, and to expand private for-profit prisons., which are ALEC  and CCA priorites . The GOP senators are presenting this as a cost cutting measure, but it will not cut costs. There is a reason one wants well-paid, dedicated professionals to be in charge of inmates in our crowded, problematic prison system. Taking $17,000 from the salaries of those  4000 prison guards will harm the guards and their families. It will harm Colorado’s economy. It will degrade the safety and efficiency of Colorado prisons. It will not make the public safer. It will put money into the campaign coffers of those fifteen senators, but that is hardly a public good. Let’s keep our prisons under the care of unionized professionals. ** I'm not going to copy all of the details here, but I have used the TRACER program on the Secretary of State site to look up the committees and PACS listed in the Prisons and Profits publication, then searched for that committee, then looked for that PAC's contributions to individual legislators.) Common Cause has also detailed much of its findings on contributions in that publication.  *Corrections: My first draft of this post said that only fourteen senators signed the letter to Director Nesbitt;  Fifteen, including Senator Grantham, signed the letter.  

 

March 11, 2013 kunc.org

The private prison company Corrections Corp. of America shuttered the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in 2010. The prison, in Walsenburg in southeastern Colorado, was the town's second largest employer Colorado’s governor and legislature quietly agreed last year to pay millions to a private prison company for cells the state would not need. Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, who headed the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee at the time, said the deal was negotiated in the governor’s office. She and other legislators agreed with the plan because it delayed the threatened closure of private prisons by Corrections Corp. of America. That would have resulted in devastating job losses in several rural Colorado communities where the jails are located. Officials knew the number of inmates had been declining in Colorado since 2009, and five state and private prisons already have closed. Projections now show that in the near future, two to 10 more state and private prisons could close, depending on the size of the facilities chosen. In the end, officials decided to wait until after a study is completed this June, with recommendations on which ones would be most efficient to shut down. The deal to keep sending inmates to private prisons wasted at least $2 million in state tax money, says Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. "The whole idea around private prisons was that they were overflow, that we would only use them to the extent that we needed them," The total could be far more. The state already has 1,000 empty beds in various state prisons and that number is rising by nearly 100 a month. That includes 300 beds in cellblocks shut temporarily until the study is completed. Officials need some beds open for flexibility, but won’t say how many. The deal gave CCA a written promise of 3,300 prisoners, at $20,000 each, for the fiscal year that ends this June. Details were hashed out a year ago during meetings between the governor’s office, CCA and its Colorado lobbyist, Mike Feeley. Eric Brown, spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper, said, “The General Assembly and the governor agreed to have a year where no other communities were affected by a prison closure” due to uncertainty about the number of prisoners and the impact of closing other prisons last year. CCA said in an email that the agreement with state officials was part of its “flexibility to manage their changing needs.” CCA also pointed out that it provides 600 jobs in the Eastern Plains towns of Olney Springs, Burlington and Las Animas. Department of Corrections director Tom Clements added, “I think it’s worth the time and investment to do the analysis.” With the recent closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II, Colorado has now has 21 state prisons and four private prisons. Colorado currently has 20 state-owned prisons. Another four are privately owned, including the three CCA facilities for minimum-to-medium-security inmates from Colorado and other states. “The whole idea around private prisons was that they were overflow, that we would only use them to the extent that we needed them,” Donner said. Donner was critical of the deal, which she noted was “negotiated behind closed doors.” “There was no [public] hearing on this whatsoever,” said the longtime activist. “I didn’t even find out about it until way after the fact, when all of a sudden I started to see the number of people in the private prisons start to increase. And I thought, ‘That’s odd…’ “Somebody just made a comment that they had given a 3,300 bed guarantee to Corrections Corporation of America, and I was stunned.” The state’s Joint Budget Committee staff confirmed there was no announced hearing on the decision. The secrecy is also backed by a lack of documentation of any of the discussions that occurred between Hickenlooper’s staff, CCA and legislators. The governor’s office responded to two Colorado Open Records Act requests seeking details about the deal without providing a single record of the negotiations, or how the 3,300-prisoner figure was reached. Asked how the governor justified making such an important and expensive decision in secret, Hickenlooper’s spokesman responded, “There is no way for the governor to send funds to a private company as a result of a backroom meeting,” because the legislature makes all funding decisions. Office calendars for the governor, his chief of staff Roxane White and his budget director Henry Sobanet show a meeting with CCA executives and lobbyist Feeley in the governor’s offices in the morning of March 28, 2012. That afternoon, the budget committee began an unannounced discussion of the possible shutdown of CCA’s prison in Burlington, if Colorado continued to reduce inmates there. State Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said he worked with the governor’s office to contract for the prison closure study, modeled on a military base closure report. It is being conducted by a contractor, without a personal stake. “We don’t want to close a prison while the study is being done,” he said at the meeting that day. The next morning, the Pueblo Chieftain quoted chief of staff White saying CCA had threatened to cut jobs and shut a prison if it didn’t receive help. The prison in Burlington was only half-full. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out, they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she was quoted as saying. “We need in the neighborhood of $10 million to $15 million to keep the private prisons all operational.” Feeley, a former legislator and a Democratic powerbroker in Colorado, denied any threat to shut a prison. But he did note that everyone knew CCA had mothballed its prison in Walsenburg in 2010 for lack of inmates. “CCA really feels we’re in a partnership with the state,” which compromised on a figure that shared the pain of reduced inmates, he said. The budget committee effectively signed off on the deal when it later budgeted the extra CCA funds. The legislature then approved the budget containing the payment. Because the number of inmates in Colorado is dropping even faster than projected, the deal is costing more than expected. Legislators thought the inmate population would drop anywhere from 160 to 1,256 by this June. Instead, the total fell by far more – 1,700 by February. The current population of 20,140 is close to where legislators thought the state would be two and a half years from now. Colorado has fewer prisoners largely because the crime rate has dropped by a third in a decade. The state also changed its sentencing structure, and has allowed prisoners to earn more time off for good behavior.

March 29, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado’s declining prison population has imperiled two private prisons in Southeastern Colorado, where the economy already is reeling from the recent closure of a state-run prison. Savings from the pending closure of another state-run prison in Southern Colorado could be used to prop up the for-profit ventures. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, has notified the state that it needs a subsidy or it will start shedding jobs, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Roxane White said Wednesday. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she said. Similar threats loom at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, which also is operated by CCA, and Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs, operated by Community Education Centers Inc., according to White. “At both the CCA facilities and Cheyenne Mountain, up to 20 percent of their beds are empty,” she said. “They are looking at the need to make staffing reductions.” White confirmed that diverting the estimated $4.5 million in savings the state expects to realize next year from the pending closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City is one option, but she doubts that would be enough to satisfy the private prison companies. “It’s not enough to cover it,” she said. “In this case, we need in the neighborhood of $10 (million) to $15 million to keep the (private) prisons all operational.” Ideally, White said, any action by the private prison companies could be postponed while the state conducts a thorough study of the factors driving the declining prison population, whether the trend is likely to continue and how the state can best manage its resources in light of the findings.

February 17, 2012 Westword
A former prisoner, now a shareholder in the country's largest for-profit prison operator, has won a battle with company management over his campaign to hold the Corrections Corporation of America accountable for reducing sexual abuse at its facilities. The Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that the shareholder resolution, calling attention to the issue of prison rape, can be included in proxy materials sent to CCA investors in advance of the company's annual meeting. Alex Freidmann, who served time at a CCA-operated facility in the 1990s and has since actively investigated prisoner rights abuses as an associate editor of Prison Legal News, introduced the resolution, which calls for biannual reports on the company's efforts to reduce the number of incidents of sexual misconduct at more than sixty prisons it operates across the country, housing 75,000 offenders. Despite the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003, sexual assaults in public and private corrections facilities remain greatly under-reported, including in Colorado's state system -- see last year's feature "The Devil's Playground," which recounts the ordeal of inmate Scott Howard and drew international attention to the issue. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report estimates that more than 200,000 adult prisoners endured some form of sexual abuse in 2008, roughly one out of twelve. A supporting statement to Friedmann's resolution notes that some CCA facilities have been singled out in federal surveys as having exceptionally high rates of sexual victimization. Kentucky and Hawaii have removed female prisoners from one CCA lockup after a sex scandal involving six employees, and an ACLU lawsuit alleges sexual assaults against immigration detainees by a CCA employee in Texas. CCA objected to the resolution, characterizing it as a "personal claim or grievance" by an activist shareholder who was formerly incarcerated in one of its hoosegows. "I have no 'personal claim' or 'grievance' in wanting to reduce rape and sexual abuse at CCA facilities," Friedmann replied, "other than the concern that all people should share in wanting to reduce such incidents -- a concern that apparently is not shared by CCA." Several national organizations have expressed support for the resolution, including the National Organization for Women, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants and the Justice Policy Institute. The most crucial support, though, has come from the SEC, which rejected CCA's objections and determined that shareholders should be allowed to consider the measure.

September 16, 2010 Think Progress
In December 2009, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a powerful front group that helps corporate representatives craft template legislation for state lawmakers, funded partially by the private prison industry — hosted Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce (R) and began debate on legislation that would provide broad powers to local police to arrest anyone who might look like an immigrant. ALEC then distributed the template legislation to its members. The January/February 2010 edition of ALEC’s magazine highlights the draft version of SB1070 — the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” — as model legislation. In April of this year, Pearce then introduced ALEC’s template as the infamous SB1070 law. Notably, the ALEC task force which helped Pearce devise his racial profiling law included Laurie Shanblum, a lobbyist from the mega-private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) which previously played a role in privatizing many of Texas’ prisons. An investigation from Arizona’s KPHO-TV found more ties between SB1070 and the private prison industry: Paul Senseman, Gov. Janet Brewer’s (R-AZ) deputy chief of staff was a former lobbyist for CCA (his wife is still a lobbyist for CCA) and Chuck Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign chairman, runs the lobbying firm in Arizona that represents CCA. In These Times reporter Beau Hodai, who also reported much of SB1070’s connections to the private prison industry, has a chart to explain the relationship. CCA is set to receive well over $74 million in tax dollars in FY2010 for running immigration detention centers. In a presentation given earlier this year, Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund with a large financial stake in CCA, suggested that CCA’s profitability depends on increasing numbers of immigrants sent to prison. Many of the legislators helping to earn CCA more profits with radical anti-immigrant bills mirroring SB1070 have been recipients of private prison industry cash or have worked closely with the CCA-funded ALEC organization: – TENNESSEE: Earlier this year, legislators in Tennessee passed an immigration bill with provisions “similar to, but less harsh than, those of SB 1070, including requiring city and county jails in the state to report any person who may be in violation of immigration laws to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” But that wasn’t enough: right-wing local lawmakers also passed a resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, and a delegation of state lawmakers promised to introduce an anti-immigrant bill even “broader” than SB1070 in 2011. Many of the leading local lawmakers who voted for the anti-immigrant bill and resolution received thousands of dollars from CCA’s political action committee in the past two years, including State Reps. Gerald McCormick ($250), Barrett Rich ($500), Eric Watson ($250) and State Sens. Bill Ketron ($1,000), Jim Tracy ($500), Dolores Gresham ($1,000), Bo Watson ($500), and Jack Johnson ($500). Tracy, who sponsored the resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, also received $2,000 directly from CCA founder Tom Beasley, reports the Nashville City Paper. CCA retains five lobbyists in the state and spent at least $50,000 this year to lobby on immigration and other issues. – OKLAHOMA: Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK), who won her party’s nomination to run for governor this year, received the maximum donation permitted by law from CCA. State Rep. Randy Terrill (R-OK), who announced that he was planning an “Arizona-Plus” immigration bill that would be harsher than SB1070, is a proud member of the CCA-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. – COLORADO: A group of Republican lawmakers in Colorado, after a research trip to Arizona this summer, have stated that they plan on passing a SB1070 law in Colorado next year. CCA’s lobbyists in Colorado have raised funds for many of the lawmakers in the group. CCA lobbyist Margy Christiansen raised $400 State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, one of the leaders of Colorado’s Arizona expedition, and CCA lobbyist Jason Dunn raised $150 for State Sen. Mike Kopp, the Republican minority leader who is promising to promote an SB1070 bill next session. – FLORIDA: During the gubernatorial primary campaign between disgraced businessman Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum (R-FL), the prospect of importing Arizona’s SB1070 became a prominent issue in the race, with both candidates promising to bring a version of the law to the state. While many Florida Republicans recoiled at the idea, which stands to alienate many Hispanic voters, a cadre of state lawmakers and candidates for the state legislature, most funded by the prison industry, announced their support for an SB1070-type law. State Rep. Bill Snyder, who has received $500 from CCA, pledged to introduce a bill more draconian than SB1070. State House candidate Ben Albritton, another outspoken supporter of SB1070, took $500 from CCA, and State Rep. Joe Negron, who has been working with Snyder to sponsor the bill, received $1,000 from the Geo Group, another major private prison contractor which operates immigrant detention centers. Overall, the Republican Party of Florida has been the biggest recipient of prison industry cash in the past two years: $37,000 from CCA and $145,000 from the Geo Group. – PENNSYLVANIA: In the Key State, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA) introduced the ALEC-drafted “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” one month before State Sen. Russell Pearce (R-AZ) introduced his version of the bill in Arizona. Metcalfe is a highly active member of ALEC. He was paid $1,500 by ALEC just to attend its meetings with CCA lobbyists on how to draft the law. In Tennessee, the average daily number of immigration detainees sank to 40 in FY2009, down from 95 in FY2008. This may change with CCA’s aggressive lobbying for more laws encouraging aggressive arrests of immigrants or people who look like immigrants. Charles Maldonado, who has reported on CCA’s corrupting influence at the Nashville City Paper, notes that CCA may see new business at its West Tennessee Detention Facility with the passage of more SB1070-related laws. ALEC, with funds from several private prison companies, helped sponsor “truth-in-sentencing” and “three-strikes-you’re-out” laws all over the country for the past two decades. These laws have greatly increased incarceration rates, and have contributed to America’s distinction of having the largest prison population in the world.

April 10, 2010 Denver Post
A bipartisan pair of term-limited lawmakers are trying to leave behind a cost-saving strategy to spare future legislatures some of the budget pain they've experienced. But the ideas — which could affect road funding along the Front Range and colleges and prisons across the state — are likely to draw fire from lawmakers trying to protect their districts and from local communities caught in the crossfire. House Majority Leader Paul Weiss mann, D-Louisville, and Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, are crafting the plan. May said the ideas might not get off the ground this year but could be conversation starters. Items being discussed include: • Turning state-maintained roads that are essentially local thoroughfares over to the communities. • Determining the best use for the state's correctional facilities and whether some should close. • Asking communities to help financially support the colleges in their towns. • Trying to eliminate duplication in college programs across the state and possibly consolidating some governing boards. The idea to turn state roads over to cities and towns came from Rep. Glenn Vaad, R-Mead, who worked for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Many state-maintained roads such as Colorado Boulevard, Arapahoe Road, Federal Boulevard and Wads worth Boulevard in Denver and Parker Road in Parker essentially are local thoroughfares, Vaad said. "Why are we paying for them as state highways?" he said. He has pushed legislation for several years to require communities to take over responsibility for the roads, but the bills have died. Not surprisingly, cities hate the idea. "These are state highways, and urban residents along the Front Range are the people who pay the bulk of the gasoline tax to fund the state highway system," said Mark Radtke, a lobbyist with the Colorado Municipal League. And it's not as if the cities have any more money for roads, he said. Weissmann and May are also considering telling the state Department of Corrections to evaluate which facilities are too costly to maintain and which may be expendable, given the recent 8,000-person drop in the anticipated number of inmates in state prisons. The plan would lead to closing one or more prisons and could mean the state relies more heavily on private prison beds, May said. Public-prison champion Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, challenged the idea that private prisons can house inmates cheaper, pointing out a number of hidden costs. Private prisons can transfer the sickest and worst-behaved inmates back to the state, for example.

January 22, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
State lawmakers had mixed reactions to Thursday's announcement that Arizona is pulling its inmates out of a private prison in Walsenburg, dragging almost 200 jobs out with them. Last year, Colorado inmates were relocated from the Huerfano County Correctional Facility, owned by Corrections Corporation of America, to make room for 800 Arizona inmates. "I'm not surprised that Arizona would be pulling back its inmates," Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West. "That state is in a terrible budget crunch. Its whole prison system is up for sale." Conversely, Joint Budget Committee member Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, said Thursday afternoon, "This is the first I've heard of it. I work with CCA as part of the budget process." In 2008, CCA sought a 5-percent increase in the fee paid to it by the state of Colorado per inmate, per day from $52.69 to $55.32. At the time, McFadyen characterized CCA's demands as the Legislature being "held hostage" by threats that CCA would end acceptance of Colorado's inmates if the pay hike wasn't approved. "We took their threat seriously," McFadyen said Thursday. "It's relevant to this discussion. We got our inmates out of there because CCA was going to throw them out." She said CCA officials shouldn't have been surprised by the potential problems it faced from shrinking government budgets and prison populations. "CCA came in as speculative investors, banking on the booming prison populations of a decade ago," McFadyen said. "Economic development through growing the prison industry is not good public policy." Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, was reluctant to blame the situation on CCA's absence of foresight. "They simply need to find some new customers," McKinley said. "The reason we have prisons is the market's out there. If we didn't need them, we wouldn't have them.

October 25, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
A proposed bill that will suggest the state sell Colorado State Penitentiary II because it cannot afford to staff it is getting reaction for local lawmakers. Construction of the $208 million administrative-maximum-security prison is well underway at the East Canon Prison Complex, and it should be complete by next spring. Because the state cannot afford to staff it in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Rep. Glenn Vaad, R-Weld County, will run a bill that proposes to sell the prison, perhaps to a private prison company. "Well, I don't think that's a very good idea," said Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas. "One, it is a high security prison and two, it is located in that complex with (six) other state prisons. "I'm not in favor of mixing private and state prisons in short distances from each other. We have four private prisons in the state and that is probably all we need - they've been a big help to us when we run out of room." Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, agreed. "I respect Rep. Vaad very much, but his proposal is very bad. There are inherent safety issues. We don't allow private prison contractors to run high-custody beds, and the entire complex is a secured area," McFadyen said. When the prison is complete, it and neighboring Centennial Correctional Facility will run off the same control-room system as well as share a kitchen. "I don't know of a private prison company that would be able to afford to purchase CSPII, let alone foot the very significant cost to run it," McFadyen said. Kester said he favors holding onto CSPII. "There is probably going to be a time we need it, and we need to have it available," Kester said. "He (Vaad) is a very nice person, and I like him a lot, but he has the wrong idea this time," Kester said. "I don't believe the bill will pass. I understand his intent, but public safety is the job of the state," McFadyen said.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

September 1, 2009 AP
Colorado officials plan the early release of 15 percent of inmates in state prisons to help slash $320 million from the state budget. The cuts that took effect Tuesday call for the release of 3,500 of the 23,000 inmates over two years, saving the state about $45 million, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said. An additional 2,600 parolees, or 21 percent of those currently on parole, will be released from intense supervision. Prisoners eligible for early release are those within six months of their mandatory release date. Those eligible for early parole release must have served at least half of their supervised term. Sex offenders do not qualify. Other offenders, including those who committed violent crimes, will undergo more rigorous reviews. No staff members are being cut. Money will be saved by reducing the number of inmates sent to private prisons, Sanguinetti said.

August 21, 2009 Denver Post
Gov. Bill Ritter's plan to cut the state budget through inmate releases could reduce Colorado's prison population by 1,000 in a year and immediately save $19 million. It will also almost certainly accelerate the commission of new crimes, and could force layoffs from a privately run prison, experts said. Ritter's plan calls for trimming parole supervision for some inmates already out of prison, and releasing some non-sex-offender inmates early and placing them on parole. A total of 5,700 inmates or parolees could see their status change as a result of Ritter's cut. A Metropolitan State College of Denver professor says it's unavoidable that a large number of those prisoners or parolees will commit new crimes. "The recidivism rate in Colorado is between 40 and 60 percent within five years, depending on types of crimes," Metro State criminal justice professor Joseph Sandoval said. "I do think that the risk of release is that some will go on a crime spree and there may be a smaller amount that commit crimes that are heinous." Each of the inmates who will be released early is someone who was within six months of getting out anyway. So, if the inmates follow historical patterns, the early release is more likely to accelerate the commission of new crimes rather than actually increase the crime rate over time, Sandoval said. Still, Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman said the mass release of prisoners across the state is of "great concern." Private prisons wary -- There is also concern about the plan's impact on privately run prisons. Colorado's prison system is a mixture of state-run and privately run facilities. The private prisons make a profit largely based on efficiency, and they need full beds to get fully paid. The largest of those companies working in Colorado, Corrections Corporation of America, is already fretting that reducing the prison population too far would be bad for the company's bottom line. "We're hoping it doesn't put us in a position where our operations are not viable," said Steve Owen, spokesman for Tennessee-based CCA, which runs Crowley County Correctional Facility, Bent County Correctional Facility and Kit Carson Correctional Facility. Katherine Sanguinetti, spokes woman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said the early prison releases will save $61 million over three years. Although there will be population decreases at all Colorado's prisons, the private prisons will be hit hardest because empty beds at state-run prisons will be filled by prisoners transferred from the private prisons. She said safety is DOC's top priority.

August 19, 2009 Denver Post
Gov. Bill Ritter proposes to save almost $19 million by letting as many as 3,100 inmates out of prison six months earlier than their mandatory release dates and halting the supervision of some parolees. But the public need not worry, said Ritter, formerly Denver's district attorney. "People coming out of prison are going to have more supervision tomorrow than they did yesterday," he said. That's because the state plans to add almost nine new positions to provide intensive parole supervision. Ritter stressed that sex offenders are not eligible to leave supervision because they face a lifetime parole. The Democratic governor announced his corrections proposals Tuesday as part of his effort to reduce a $318 million budget shortfall. Budget officials estimate about 3,100 inmates will be eligible for the early release, provided the state Parole Board grants them parole, said Katherine Sanguinetti, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. Also, budget officials estimate about 2,600 former inmates currently on parole will no longer need to be supervised. Those parolees must have completed at least six months of parole or 50 percent of their parole period and completed all of their goals. Studies show that after that point, parolees usually don't need supervision, said Ritter's budget director, Todd Saliman. Ari Zavaras, director of the Department of Corrections, and Pete Weir, director of the Department of Public Safety, on Friday briefed the Colorado Commission on Crime and Juvenile Justice of the prison and parole changes. "I'm withholding judgment," said Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, who serves on the commission. "I'm never thrilled about letting a convicted felon out early, but I'm sympathetic for the need to do something given the dire budget situation the governor faces." Hautzinger, a Republican, praised the governor for not cutting a juvenile-diversion program, which he said is crucial to helping reduce prison populations. Most inmates eligible for release are housed in private prisons that cost taxpayers $19,232 a bed, Saliman said.

March 24, 2009 The Denver Channel
A private prison is planning to transfer its Colorado inmates to other facilities to make room for 752 inmates from Arizona. The Colorado inmates will be moved from the Huerfano County Correctional Center to other facilities in Colorado run by Corrections Corporation of America(CCA), according to the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper. No Colorado statute keeps the state from accepting inmates from other states. CCA has four private prisons in Colorado. The CCA prison in Walsenburg opened in November 1997. State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, is not happy about the plan. She told the newspaper, "Coloradans should be concerned because earlier this year we heard that there was a question of whether or not they wanted to dump the Guantanamo Bay detainees in Colorado and now we are hearing they want to dump Arizona's inmates here. Why would we want Arizona's criminals in Colorado?"

February 20, 2009 Grand Junction Sentinel
Gov. Bill Ritter has commuted the death sentence of the Rifle Correctional Center. Ritter and the Colorado Department of Corrections reversed a decision to close the minimum-security facility after state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, pushed to keep it open. “That’s awesome. That’s great. That is great,” said Mike Morgan, who is chief of the Rifle Fire Protection District and one of many Garfield County residents who had spoken out against the proposed closure. Morgan had been particularly concerned over the prospective loss of an inmate wildland firefighting team. The state Department of Corrections had proposed closing the 192-bed facility as one way of helping deal with Colorado’s fiscal shortfall. White said the decision to keep the prison open followed negotiations with the governor’s office and state Department of Corrections. Before that, he said, he had to persuade fellow members of the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee to support keeping the prison open. “I’m just glad that we’re able to accomplish what I think is a laudable goal,” he said. He said it made no sense to close the prison when the state is sure to need more prison beds. He worries that Colorado could end up at the mercy of whatever rates private prisons might charge.

March 11, 2008 The Daily Sentinel
State lawmakers have approved of a compromise to increase the per diem rate Colorado pays its largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, after a battle between the state and the company this year. Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, said the Joint Budget Committee agreed to boost the amount of money the state pays the firm per prisoner per day from $52.69 to $54.27 — a 3 percent increase — as a gesture of “good faith” between the state and the private company. “If we don’t have all the money they want, let’s give them a good-faith offer, and have some negotiation (over the Huerfano County) facility,” White said. During negotiations this year between Corrections Corporation of America and the state, the company threatened to stop holding Colorado prisoners in the 752-bed prison to stay profitable. According to committee reports, the company requested a 4.25 percent funding increase, but staff had recommended a 1.5 percent increase — the same rate increase lawmakers planned to give to all other private companies the state has contracts with. Mike Feeley, a lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The Joint Budget Committee’s vote came despite a warning from legislative staff that a rate increase for the prison company alone could set a bad precedent. “It’s a slippery slope when every provider gets a different rate,” said Patrick Brodhead, an analyst for the budget panel. He said granting Corrections Corporation of America’s request could encourage other private companies paid by the state to demand higher reimbursement rates. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said she plans, at the very least, to fight the private prison company’s rate hike when the state budget goes before the full House. “Why are they getting 3 percent when most providers to the state are getting a 1.5 percent increase?” McFadyen said.

February 6, 2008 Pueblo Chieftain
A private prison company is threatening to move all Colorado inmates out of one of its facilities if it doesn't get an increase in what the state pays to house them. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates four of the state's five private prisons, including three in Southern Colorado, is demanding that the Colorado Legislature give it a 5 percent hike in the per diem it receives to house about 4,000 state inmates, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, said Tuesday. Buescher, chairman of the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee, said the Tennessee-based company is using its weight to try to force more money out of the state. "We've got a negotiating disadvantage," he said. "The choice we've got to make is to give them a provider rate increase that is three times what we're giving to all other providers, or to build hundreds of millions of dollars in additional prisons. We don't have that hundreds of millions of dollars, and they know it. The decisions that have been made over the last 12 years (in using private prisons) have put us in a very difficult negotiating position." Steve Owen, spokesman for the Nashville company, said CCA is simply trying to do what's best for its business. He said the company agreed to a lower per diem rate in 2001 when the state was suffering from a major budget shortfall. Since then, however, the state hasn't made up the difference. "We were basically asked to help with the burden of trying to ease some of those (budget) constraints, which we did," Owen said. "So, there's nothing Draconian at work here in terms at what has been presented to the state. We're just honestly trying to put options out there to help preserve this partnership with Colorado so we can continue to provide the services to the state and keep our folks employed out there." In 2001, the state had been paying CCA a $53.33 per diem. That amount was lowered to less than $50 and has since risen to $52.69, still far less than what it would be receiving after seven years of inflation and cost increases. Now the company is asking for $55.32 per inmate a day. "We've actually had a real dollar decrease," Owen said. "That's compounded with another issue that the state has underutilized beds that we've made available. Between those two things, it makes for a difficult situation on a financially viable business operation." Currently, the company - which operates private prisons in Bent, Huerfano, Crowley and Kit Carson counties - has about 460 open beds, and that doesn't count the 1,440 more that are expected to become available later this year because of expansions of the Bent and Kit Carson facilities, Owen said. Owen said that if the state can't pony up more money, his company would consider consolidating all Colorado prisoners in three of its facilities. The fourth facility, which has not been determined, would be used for inmates from the federal prison system or other states, some of which pay anywhere from $10 to $15 a day more than Colorado. Still, some lawmakers said they didn't like the idea of the company demanding a 5 percent hike at a time when the state can only afford to give other private providers, from health care to human services, less than 1 percent. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West and a longtime critic of private prisons, said the state should call CCA's bluff and give them no increase. "I don't like doing business when we're being held hostage, and that's exactly what this is," McFadyen said. "We saw it coming. We had a past governor (Bill Owens) who brought us private prisons without a bid process, now we're dealing with it. If they don't want to work with us, we don't have to play ball with them."

January 28, 2008 Colorado Confidential
In just two months, two executives of the nation's largest prison business gave $2,400 to various campaigns in Colorado, nearly triple the total amount contributed a year before. According to records from the Secretary of State's office, high- ranking officials with Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America went on a spending spree during the last two months of 2007, contributing money to the candidate committees of seven state legislators, usually in $400 increments, the highest legal amount. State campaign finance records show that Marsha Wedell, wife of CCA board member Henri Wedell and a listed vice president at the company, gave $1,400 to the campaigns of Reps. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood; Mary Hodge, D-Brighton; Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield; and House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker. May's committee received $200, while the rest were given $400 contributions -- the maximum allowed by law. Josh Brown, a senior director at CCA who handles business relations in Colorado, gave a total of $1000 to the committees of Reps. David Balmer, R-Centennial; Michael Garcia, D-Aurora; and Nancy Spence, R- Centennial, according to SOS documents. What makes the spending surge unique is not the monetary amounts given to state lawmakers, but the sheer increase in spending from last year by CCA. State records show that CCA board member Henri Wedell gave $400 in November 2006 to the campaign of House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D- Denver, while CCA gave a business contribution of $500 to the Colorado Leadership Fund, a Republican political committee, during the same month. The company didn't contribute again until the end of 2007, when executives gave nearly triple the $900 amount contributed at the same time in 2006. CCA operates four detention facilities in Colorado. Earlier in the month, the company demanded a 5 percent increase in the daily rate the state pays to hold inmates and threatened to stop housing prisoners.

January 15, 2008 The Daily Sentinel
A private prison company is threatening to stop housing additional Colorado inmates unless it receives more state funds, an act one state lawmaker called “extortion.” Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, said Corrections Corporation of America has demanded a substantial increase in the daily rate the state pays private prisons to hold inmates. “They said that if we don’t essentially do a 5 percent increase over each of the next five years, they will work at closing at least one of their prisons to Colorado prisoners and start bringing in out-of- state prisoners,” Buescher said. Corrections Corporation of America prisons in Burlington, Las Animas, Olney Springs, Walsenburg and Sayre, Okla., house 4,048 Colorado inmates, according to Katherine Sanguinetti, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. Those prisoners account for more than 20 percent of the state’s more than 19,000 prison inmates, according to agency statistics. Steve Owen, spokesman for the Tennessee-based company, said Corrections Corporation of America requested the rate increase to keep its Colorado prisons operating at cost. “We’re trying to keep our operations in Colorado financially viable looking to the long term,” Owen said. “It’s been a very good partnership.” Owen declined to comment on the company’s dealings with state lawmakers. He said Corrections Corporation of America is merely trying to negotiate a reimbursement rate in line with prison companies’ pre-recession funding levels. Following Colorado’s 2002 and 2003 recession, the state dropped its per-inmate, per-day private prison reimbursement rate from a high of $54.66 in fiscal year 2001-2002 to $49.56 in fiscal year 2004-2005. Since then, the reimbursement rate has grown incrementally to $52.69. Ari Zavaras, director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, said he understands the Corrections Corporation of America’s financial situation, but its threat to start “winnowing” Colorado inmates out of its facilities in favor of more lucrative out-of-state prisoners is insidious. “I do feel there is some level of extortion involved here,” White said. Buescher, who heads the state’s Joint Budget Committee, said Corrections Corporation of America’s responsibility for such a high percentage of the state’s inmates gives it a troubling level of influence over the state. “When you use private prisons, you become hostage to their setting the rate,” Buescher said. “And we always knew that this issue was out there.” White said if Corrections Corporation of America moves ahead with its plans, the state could find itself scrambling to either cram more inmates into its already overstuffed 22 public prisons, send prisoners outside Colorado or build a new public prison. “We need to find beds for our prisoners,” White said, “and if we lose all of the (Corrections Corporation of America) beds, we’re in trouble.” According to a Joint Budget Committee staff report, Colorado will need 5,100 new prison beds over the next five years. White said building thousands of new public prison beds, without private prisons to help bridge the bedding gap, could run a tab of nearly $1 billion. Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, said another short-term solution could be to encourage more community-based sentences for nonviolent felons. Community corrections programs, he said, are more cost-effective than prisons. Pommer suggested during a Tuesday hearing the state could condemn and take over one of Corrections Corporation of America’s facilities, but said it would not be preferable. He said for the time being, Colorado will have to rely on private- prison beds. “We should have never let this situation get to the way it is,” Pommer said.

October 15, 2007 Daily Sentinel
It has been months since Roger Peck has seen his son. A year ago, Peck and his wife, Millicent, twice a month were driving more than 400 miles from Grand Junction to see their son, 47-year-old Stephen Dallas Peck, at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. But when Peck and 479 other inmates were relocated in December and January to the privately owned North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., those visits ended. “It’s almost impossible for us to get to Oklahoma, and I’m sure we’re more capable than a lot of people that have loved ones in prison,” Roger Peck said. The retired couple said their contact with their son, who was sentenced in early 2004 to 18 years in prison for felony theft and methamphetamine possession, has become relegated to brief collect calls twice a month. The Colorado Department of Correction’s decision to ship its healthiest and best behaved inmates more than 300 miles southeast of Colorado’s closest prison in Trinidad, the Pecks said, is “completely opposite” the state’s goal of promoting prisoner wellness and reducing recidivism. “They skimmed the cream to start with. They took inmates who were in relatively good health and have no violent history and were not in there for violent crime,” Roger Peck said. “So they took the cream of the crop, so to speak, and sent them to this facility whose sole purpose in life is making money.” Without their support, the Pecks said, they fear how well their son will cope with his methamphetamine addiction, which also landed him in prison in 1997. Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said in an attempt to address some of the Peck family’s concerns, he and Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras are going to visit the North Fork Correctional Facility at the end of this month. King said after he met the Peck family earlier this year, he began to wonder if Colorado was abandoning its oversight responsibilities by shipping felons out of state. “I had some real concerns about us giving up our ability, in some ways, to have oversight of these people that are Colorado citizens,” King said. “Granted they’re felons, but they’re our felons, and we have a responsibility to make sure they’re doing their time in a safe environment.” King said “outsourcing our felons” removes them from the support network of friends and family they need to transition from their criminal lifestyles and addictions back to living normal lives. Zavaras said from a purely financial standpoint, private prisons — the six in Colorado and the North Fork Correctional Facility — are a cost-effective way to deal with Colorado’s exploding corrections population. According to Department of Corrections statistics, Colorado’s inmate population has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 13,242 inmates in 2006 to 22,424 inmates this year. Nearly 5,000 of Colorado’s inmates reside in private prisons. Zavaras said sending prisoners outside Colorado is neither ideal nor fair to the inmates, but it is necessary. “Managing prisoners out of state, quite frankly, is very, very difficult for us,” Zavaras said. “If we would have had in-state beds, we wouldn’t be out of state. We’re only there as a last resort.” He said there are plans to expand two existing private, in-state prisons. As soon as those expansions are completed, he said, “We will bring them back.” Zavaras said he plans to scrutinize the Sayre, Okla., prison during his and King’s Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 visits. He said during that time he will not only speak with Colorado inmates but look into the concerns of inmates’ families. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said that ideally Colorado would pull out of private prisons, whose missions are directly contrary to reducing recidivism. McFadyen, who has 12 state and federal prisons in her southern Colorado House district, said private facilities have no reason to attempt to reintegrate felons back into society. She said private facilities see felons as possible repeat customers, so they have no incentive to decrease recidivism. Removing inmates from Colorado, she said, is an even better way for private prisons to maintain demand for their beds. “Sending an inmate out of state is almost guaranteeing they’ll come back in the system because of the lack of support,” McFadyen said. “I don’t know how an inmate succeeds when they have no support from home.”

March 7, 2007 Denver Post
The nation's largest private-prison company said Tuesday it has helped the state avoid $646 million in construction costs over the past decade. Executives from Corrections Corporation of America, which houses about 20 percent of all inmates sent to prison in Colorado, added that they pay $40 million per year to 900 employees in the state. The company disclosed the financial data during a special hearing by state lawmakers into the costs and benefits of relying on privately owned prisons. While the company touted its economic impact, opponents of private prisons talked about the human cost. Tracy Masuga, whose son was moved from a Colorado-based prison to a CCA facility in Oklahoma in December, said she can no longer visit her son every other week, as she has for the past six years. "We won't be able to see him very often," said Masuga, who choked back tears as she began her testimony, noting that it now costs at least $300 per trip to see her son. As a result of overcrowding in Colorado, hundreds of prisoners are being transferred to facilities in Oklahoma. Masuga said she found out that her son had been moved on the day he was sent to Oklahoma. Ryan Sherman, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said private prison operators cut corners to increase profits for their shareholders. He said such practices endanger workers and could result in higher rates of repeat offenses by released inmates. "There's nothing but problems if you are putting profits first," Sherman said. Rep. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said private-prison operators pay lower salaries than state-run prisons, partly because the companies base their salaries on incomes in depressed rural areas. "It seems like that's contributing to the pay disparity," Carroll said. Josh Brown, senior director of customer relations for CCA, said his company's starting pay for a correctional officer in Colorado is $24,000 to $26,000 per year. The state Department of Corrections pays $32,000 annually. Brown said his company turns over 30 percent to 40 percent of its Colorado workforce a year.

March 6, 2007 Greeley Tribune
Saying GEO Group Inc. can't be trusted, a Pueblo lawmaker asked state officials Monday to rescind a contract with the company to build a private prison in Ault. Plans for the prison, which would house 1,500 inmates and would be built east of the railroad tracks along U.S. 85, has stalled on two fronts. Ault leaders decided they would not approve the facility until the public voted on it, and GEO wants to change its contract to ensure payment for its beds. Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, a vocal critic of private prisons, said Monday that the proposed change and other issues regarding GEO's integrity should negate the Ault contract. “Anybody living in Ault should be concerned that a company that would bid this way on a contract might have a business in their town," she said. Philip Tidwell, spokesman for the town group Coalition Against Ault Prison, said residents hope no one else bids on the Ault prison if GEO's contract is rescinded. "We just do not want any private prison, whether it be GEO or Cornell or anyone else," he said. A spokesman for GEO did not return calls seeking comment. McFadyen said the company is attempting to do the same things in Ault that derailed plans for a GEO facility in Pueblo. In 2003, GEO won a contract for a 1,100-bed, pre-parole and parole revocation facility in Pueblo, and after almost four years of delays, the state pulled the contract last fall. The company never broke ground on the facility. "The state of Colorado was held hostage for four years waiting for those beds," McFadyen said. The delays included zoning issues in Pueblo and GEO's attempt to obtain guaranteed payments on 90 percent of its beds, regardless of whether the beds were occupied. That is something state leaders have opposed and which may even be impossible because of state laws, McFadyen said. Now, GEO is trying for guaranteed bed payments in Ault, she said. "You have to question the integrity of the 2006 bid," she said. "If past performance is an indicator, I suspect we will be in the same place we were in 2003 in Pueblo." McFadyen said Ari Zavaras, the new director of the Department of Corrections, told her he is opposed to bed guarantees. Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan told the Associated Press that Zavaras will review McFadyen's request and decide how to respond. The story of Ault's possible prison goes back to late 2005, when Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for the Department of Corrections, started working with GEO on a bid for a private prison. Renfrow is under investigation for using state sick leave to obtain the Ault contract on behalf of GEO. On Monday, Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government, a watchdog group, filed an open records request about the Ault bid. "We do not feel that the public's interest was put forth in the procurement of this contract," said Chantelle Taylor, spokeswoman for the watchdog group. A state audit found Renfrow's business activities "arguably present a conflict of interest and result in a breach of ... the public trust." That breach, coupled with GEO's attempt to change its Pueblo contract by adding the bed-payment guarantee, should have prevented the company from getting the Ault bid in the first place, McFadyen said. Tidwell agreed. "One thing the state should recognize is (GEO) did not operate fairly," he said. "They hired an insider knowing he worked for the state. In my mind, GEO has shown itself to be not a company that operates fairly in the state of Colorado.

March 5, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, and two reform groups today formally requested the director of the Department of Corrections and the governor rescind Geo Group’s bid to build a private prison in Ault. The reasons cited included the company’s performance on a 2003 bid to build a private prison in Pueblo. McFadyen said GEO Group lost its contract to build the Pueblo facility because it delayed the start of construction, then tried to renegotiate its contract to get a guarantee that it would be paid for 90 percent occupancy, even if beds were not filled. "Basically, the state of Colorado was held hostage for four years. They didn’t even break ground," McFadyen said. In her letter to Ari Zavaras, executive director of DOC, she said, "It would appear that the state’s best interests were not served by allowing GEO group to bid any contract with the state because of its lack of performance on tis 2003 award." Officials with Geo Group could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. Alison Morgan, spokeswoman for the DOC, said Zavaras was aware of the letter being sent by McFadyen, but had not seen it Monday. "Since he was not with the department during the RFP (request for proposals) process, it is an issue that he is still studying and is being briefed on," said Morgan. "Once he has all the information, including McFadyen’s letter, he would welcome an opportunity to sit down and talk to her."

February 13, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
Gov. Bill Ritter wants to invest $8 million in reducing the number of inmates returning to prison in the belief he can save $14 million in the long run. The money would go to mental health and substance abuse programs for parolees, programs to divert kids from Youth Corrections facilities and more space in community corrections. In proposals submitted to the Joint Budget Committee, Ritter asked for $8 million for the year starting July 1, which is projected to save $3.2 million immediately by reducing the number of inmates sent to private prisons. Ritter's plan is expected to save an additional $11 million in the long term. "We're very excited to see the governor move in this direction," said Christie Donner, of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. "We think he's right on to look at reducing recidivism and revocations in probation and parole." Ritter must cut Colorado's explosive growth in inmates or spend $800 million on new prisons in the next five years. That could sap his ability to fund programs in education and health care. The governor's proposal says this is just the beginning of a years-long investment in programs that address inmates' education, employability and housing in hopes of cutting their repeat crimes. It also meets a request from the legislative budget committee's Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, for measurable goals. For example, a $1 million investment in more community corrections capacity is expected to save $2 million over two years because graduates of community corrections return to prison half as often.

December 16, 2006 The Gazette
State prison officials have canceled a contract for a new private prison in Pueblo, a move that casts doubt on how much Colorado will be able to rely on private prisons while it copes with a crowding crisis. The GEO Group, which was awarded a contract in 2003 to build the Pueblo pre-release prison, has also been contracted to build and operate a prison in Ault, in northeastern Colorado. But the same issue that doomed the Pueblo project — the company’s insistence it be guaranteed nearly full occupancy — could derail the latter prison, because GEO is making a similar demand. “If GEO’s going to demand a bed guarantee, they need to leave the state,” said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, a Pueblo Democrat and leading critic of private prisons. “It is not the job of the Colorado taxpayers to ensure profits for this corporation.” The Pueblo prison was delayed repeatedly: by zoning issues, by a legal challenge from a prison-reform group and by several revisions to the plan by GEO. But the final impasse began this summer, when the company asked for a 90 percent minimum occupancy guarantee for the prison, which wasn’t a condition of the original proposal and was opposed by Department of Corrections officials. Private prisons are paid a daily rate per inmate by the state, currently $52. Last month, the DOC denied a contract-extension request, and on Thursday informed the company that it was canceling the contract. “Ground has not broken, and GEO has given no indication when, or even if, it plans to commence construction,” DOC executive director Joe Ortiz wrote. “Our patience cannot be infinite.” The department is facing an acute crowding problem. Years of canceled prison-construction projects and steady growth in court caseloads have created a shortage of prison beds. The DOC this week began shipping 720 inmates out of state, a temporary solution until new beds become available. With only one state prison under construction, Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City, the DOC this year awarded contracts to three companies to build prisons for 3,776 inmates. The GEO Group’s proposed 1,500-bed prison in Ault is a major part of the plan. Alison Morgan, head of private-prison monitoring for the DOC, said the department still expects GEO to follow through on its proposal in Ault. “We are treating the Pueblo facility and the Ault facility separately. We have from Day 1, and we will continue to do so,” Morgan said Friday. However, GEO is making the same demand for guaranteed occupancy for the Ault prison. Asked whether the DOC is still opposed to a guarantee, she said, “It is a policy decision to be addressed by the new administration (of Gov.-elect Bill Ritter) and the General Assembly.” The local community isn’t even sure it wants a prison. Ault’s town board last month passed an ordinance requiring voter approval for the prison. No election date has been set. McFadyen said she doesn’t believe GEO ever intended to complete the Pueblo prison, and she doubts the company’s ability and will to follow through in Ault. “We’ve been set back three years in our planning,” McFadyen said. “I think that kind of delay is unacceptable, and we’ll learn from this experience and not allow another contract to drag on for three years.” A call to a spokesman in the company’s Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters was not returned Friday afternoon. An audit requested by Mc-Fadyen regarding the bidding process for the Ault prison was released this week. It showed that a top DOC official set up a consulting business to help GEO win the bid while he was employed by the state. Because the DOC is based in Colorado Springs, the office of 4th Judicial District Attorney John Newsome will receive the results of the investigation and determine whether any law was broken. Morgan said the DOC will issue a new request for proposals for a pre-release prison.

December 14, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A three-year effort to build a private prison facility at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park appears to be dead after the Colorado Department of Corrections and the prison company reached an impasse over guaranteed occupancies. On Tuesday, reports said that the DOC was working with the attorney general's office to draft a letter to the GEO Group that essentially kills the company's plans to build a 1,000-bed pre-parole and parole revocation facility on 36 acres east of the city. GEO officials said Wednesday they had not received any letter from the DOC, but also didn't express much confidence a deal could be struck for the facility. "We have been in negotiations with the Department of Corrections, but we don't have any contract signed and at this time it does not appear there will be one," said Pablo Paez, director of communications for the Florida-based company. Paez confirmed reports from November that the company was asking for a minimum occupancy guarantee for the facility and also confirmed that the company was planning to go to the city of Pueblo for help to build the prison. ± PLEASE SEE PRISON, 2APRISON / continued from page 1A ± "We needed the guarantee to secure the lowest capital cost through tax-exempt bonds," Paez said Thursday. "We would get those through the local municipality." State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who has been a vocal critic of the private prison industry, and state Rep. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, wrote a letter to the city in May warning against using public funds to build the facility. "I think it's very positive that the city of Pueblo is not going to risk its credit rating on this project," McFadyen said Wednesday. Officials from the DOC were not available Wednesday to comment on whether the letter had to do with the occupancy guarantees, or the result of an audit suggesting former Director of Prisons Nolin Renfrow may have broken the law by helping GEO secure DOC approval to build a 1,500-bed facility in Weld County, prior to his retirement in January. Paez said GEO had no contact with Renfrow before March. Last month, DOC spokeswoman Kathy Church told The Pueblo Chieftain that talks between the company and the DOC over Pueblo's facility had stalled over the minimum occupancy guarantees and had reached a critical point. "They need to either understand our position and accept it or back out completely," Church said last month. Church told The Chieftain that the DOC couldn't make any guarantees without knowing how much money it had to spend. That money depends on what the joint budget committee decides. McFadyen wondered Wednesday why those guarantees weren't part of the original agreement when DOC solicited bids for the Pueblo project. "If the DOC negotiated additional terms with GEO, they would be the only private prison company to receive such treatment and that's wrong," McFadyen said Wednesday. "I think this goes to the point of how committed they were to coming to Pueblo in the first place." The plans to build the facility started in 2003 when GEO, then Wakenhut Corrections Company, proposed building the prison on the West Side. Those plans eventually shifted to the airport and the city approved a controversial agreement with GEO to build a 500- to 1,000-bed facility. A year ago, GEO bought the property at the airport from the city for $296,800. GEO's original plan was to build a 750-bed facility at the airport, but got Planning and Zoning Approval in May to expand the facility to 1,000 beds.

December 14, 2006 Denver Post
Results of an investigation into former Colorado prisons director Nolin Renfrow's conduct in office will be turned over to a district attorney early next year, the Department of Corrections' inspector general said Wednesday. Michael Rulo, who has been the agency's inspector general for seven years, said his office has been cooperating with state auditors on the probe. On Tuesday, the auditors announced that a "former senior- level official" of the Department of Corrections launched a prison-consulting business in August 2005, five months before he retired from the department Jan. 31, and helped a private company land a state prison contract. State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who requested the audit, identified the official as Renfrow. The auditors found that while still employed by DOC, Renfrow began working to assist prospective bidders in developing proposals to his department for a private prison. With his assistance, a company identified as the GEO Group was awarded the contract for a 1,500-bed private prison at Ault. Auditors noted that state employees are barred by law from outside employment that creates a conflict of interest, and from helping people to win a contract with their agency for a fee. Renfrow couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. Rulo said the results of his office's investigation will be turned over to El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome, probably in January. The Department of Corrections is based in that county. Rulo said a decision on whether to file charges will be a "collaborative process" with prosecutors. Kristen Holtzman, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said that Renfrow never contacted the attorney general's office to ask whether his consulting business while still a DOC employee constituted a conflict of interest.

December 13, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A former top official for the Colorado Department of Corrections may have broken the law when he helped a private prison company win a state contract earlier this year, an audit revealed Tuesday. Though the report conducted by the state auditor doesn't name him, the audit centered on Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for DOC. It even calls on the department's inspector general to further investigate the matter and, if warranted, refer it for possible prosecution. The audit, which was requested by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, showed that before Renfrow retired in January, he had been working with a Florida-based private prison company, GEO Group, to land a DOC contract to build a 1,500-bed prison in Weld County. That project is expected to cost an estimated $100 million, for which Renfrow was to get a 1 percent fee - or $1 million - for helping Weld County get the contract, the audit said. In 2003, GEO, which is based in Baca Raton, Fla., was awarded a contract to build a 500-bed, prerelease prison near Pueblo Memorial Airport, which still hasn't been built. Renfrow's replacement, Gary Golder, says the department currently is working with the Attorney General's Office on a letter to GEO that effectively would revoke the 2003 bid and end the Pueblo project. Though the audit did not find any evidence that Renfrow disclosed confidential information to GEO to help it win the Weld County bid, he may have violated state laws, personnel rules and department regulations regarding outside employment, the audit said. Neither Renfrow nor GEO officials were available for comment. The audit found that prior to Renfrow's retirement on Jan. 31, he filed articles of incorporation for a private prison consulting firm, Patriot Business Solutions, in August 2005. "Public records and interviews indicate that the former employee began actively working on behalf of his prison consulting business as of November 2005," the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided documentation showing that the employee requested or the department approved the former employee's outside employment." The contract was awarded to GEO in June, along with a separate contract to Corrections Corporation of America to expand two of its existing private prisons - in Bent and Kit Carson counties - by 720 beds. DOC time sheets also showed that Renfrow "used a combination of annual, sick and holiday leave" to remain on extended paid leave from November 2005 until his retirement date, the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided evidence that (Renfrow) received the express consent of his attending physician or appointing authority to engage in outside work activities," the audit said. "As a result, we question the former employee's use of about 240 hours of paid sick leave benefits valued at about $14,000." McFadyen began to question Renfrow's involvement immediately after GEO won the contract. The Pueblo West lawmaker, a longtime critic of private prisons, questioned why such a company would be awarded a new bid before it had made any progress on the Pueblo prison. McFadyen also questioned why the department was even considering a GEO request, which was made after winning the bid, to give it a written guarantee that the new beds would be filled, something the state has never provided to any of the five other existing private prisons in the state. "I am still questioning the Colorado Department of Corrections as to why GEO was allowed to bid another (project) when they have not performed on the original 2003 project," McFadyen said. "GEO Corporation is demanding that the state issue a mandatory guarantee of filling beds. It is not the responsibility of Colorado taxpayers to ensure the profits of this corporation. "There's no question that we're being held hostage by GEO Group when other (private prison) vendors probably would like to come in and bid those contracts," she added.

December 13, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
A retired state prison official stands to be paid $1 million - and possibly face criminal charges - for helping a private prison company win a state bid while he was still working for the state. A state audit released Tuesday cited a possible conflict of interest. The audit does not name the official, but the audit was aimed at Nolin Renfrow, former state prisons director. And the document describes work he openly undertook for the Geo Group. Renfrow helped Geo win a $14 million-per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison it proposed building in Ault. Renfrow helped Geo write its bid and spoke with Ault officials on Geo's behalf, said officials and Renfrow last spring. On Tuesday, Renfrow did not return a call for comment. The audit said the official may have violated two state laws. One prohibits state employees from providing paid assistance to anyone to win state contracts or economic benefits. The other prohibits activities that constitute a conflict of interest with their duties as state employees. The audit cleared the official of using insider knowledge to help Geo win the bid. But it said that if the prison is built, Geo will pay the official a $1 million fee. The official started working as a consultant on the deal before he retired this year, the audit said. During his final three months on the job, the official used six weeks of sick leave, valued at $14,000, without any proof that he was sick. The Department of Corrections has launched an investigation as a result of the audit. If warranted, the department will refer its findings to local prosecutors, said Gary Golder, Renfrow's replacement as state director of prisons. Golder said the laws cited by the auditor do not carry specific penalties. He speculated that if charges are filed, they might be for malfeasance or official misconduct. When the audit began in June, Renfrow told a reporter he had run operations for existing prisons and that he had no role in writing the state's bid request that he later helped Geo win. He also said then that the state attorney general's office had ruled that his work on the deal was not a conflict of interest. However, the audit found no evidence that he requested or received the required state approval for his outside work.

September 21, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, rallied support in Pueblo on Wednesday for a strong future fiscal plan for the Colorado Department of Corrections. Coloradoans, she added, also need to know how the DOC is going to protect its employees and the communities surrounding their facilities. McFadyen was flanked by DOC guards, Teamsters, State Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff and other Democrats during a press conference held on the steps of the Pueblo County Courthouse. She told the small crowd that the DOC has no future plans for corrections. "They testified in (legislative) session that their only plan is to house inmates," she said. "They don't set goals and objectives. McFadyen warned of the cost and repercussions of moving and accepting out-of-state inmates. She cited the July 2004 riot at the privately-owned, Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. That riot was fueled by inmates from Washington and Wyoming. And on the same day, a prison riot broke out in Mississippi, caused by inmates shipped from Colorado. "You can't put those types of populations together because, right away, the inmates from out-of-state start banding together," McFadyen said. A critic of private prisons, McFadyen said the state needs to look at the role of private prisons. "Are we saving money with private prisons? I think not."

August 23, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
Two political groups are fighting over Rep. Buffie McFadyen, but it isn't for love nor money. In one corner is a political organization created by GOP Gov. Bill Owens and financed by several well-heeled Republicans called The Trailhead Group. In the other is a similarly well-financed Democratic group called Clear Peak Colorado, which was created for the sole purpose of countering anything the GOP group says. While Trailhead is accusing the two-term Democrat from Pueblo West of using her office to enrich herself, something it has been saying in a slew of recent radio ads in Canon City and Pueblo, the Democratic group says it is the other way around. That Trailhead wants to unseat McFadyen so its contributors can continue to receive lucrative private prison contracts. McFadyen, who has been highly outspoken in her opposition of private prisons, is running for her third term in office this fall against GOP challenger Jeff Shaw, a Pueblo attorney. "It's very clear that these prison building and management companies are using the Trailhead Group as a vehicle to attack Representative McFadyen for her opposition to private prison building initiatives," said Clear Peak director Tim Knaus. "These prison industry corporate donors to the Trailhead Group have millions of dollars riding on a GOP victory and they'll stop at nothing to protect their bottom line." Both groups are known as 527 organizations, so called because of the IRS tax code governing similar political advocacy groups.

June 9, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
A state representative is calling for an audit on the bidding for the state's new private prisons for men, saying both finalists have serious problems, and one has been aided by a former state prison official. An audit could hamper the Department of Corrections' attempt to rush construction of 2,250 new private prison cells. The state is running out of space for its fast-growing inmate population, and wants the first 750 beds constructed and open in just 20 months. The contract is worth about $45 million a year at current rates. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said in her letter to the Legislative Audit Committee that Nolin Renfrow had been DOC's director of prisons until he retired recently. She said he quickly went to work as a consultant for The Geo Group, formerly Wackenhut, on a private prison proposal that has become a finalist. "It is reasonable to assume Geo may have had, or has, what could be considered proprietary information. At the very least, Renfrow may have given his client, Geo, an unfair bidding advantage," McFadyen wrote in her letter. But Renfrow denied having any role in the bid request, saying he ran operations for existing prisons. He said the bid was handled by DOC's purchasing section. "I saw the (bid document) the same day everyone else did. I had to sign in and buy a copy of it." Renfrow also said his new work - as a prison consultant - was cleared by the attorney general's office. "They said it's not a conflict of interest." He also said he was under contract with Geo's bid partner, not Geo. DOC spokeswoman Patti Micciche confirmed that Renfrow had been director of prisons before retiring. She said he did not write the bid request, or serve on the selection committee. McFadyen also questioned why Geo is a finalist at all, when it has been unable to build another private prison it contracted to build for DOC three years ago. Geo has run into repeated zoning issues on that planned facility in Pueblo and has yet to break ground. She also questioned why Geo is asking Pueblo to use city bonds to finance that prison, when the company won the bid with the promise of private financing. McFadyen also raised issues about the second finalist, Corrections Corp. of America. CCA had a riot at one of its private prisons in Crowley County in 2004. She asked if CCA and the DOC have corrected all the problems found in the riot report and a subsequent state audit. Micciche said DOC has implemented all 16 recommendations made in that audit. Geo and CCA officials were unavailable for comment late Thursday afternoon. Finally, McFadyen said she was unhappy with the DOC's statement that it could refuse both finalists and simply negotiate a contract without bidding. She said it should concern all taxpayers "that no bid process is mandatory for an obligation of this type." Prison officials told the legislature earlier this year that they generally have negotiated contracts with private prisons rather than use a competitive bid like this one. Micciche noted that three bids were disqualified, leaving the two finalists. "That's disappointing. We would rather have a greater selection to choose from," she said. McFadyen said she is not worried about delaying the new prisons for three to six months for an audit on a contract that will cost the state for years to come. The Legislative Audit Committee meets Monday.

March 12 2006 AP
A group of Colorado inmates who started a riot at a private prison in Mississippi in 2004 so they could be transferred back to Colorado will force lawmakers to review their policy that allowed the Department of Corrections to ship troublemakers out of state. This week, The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on a measure (Senate Bill 23) prohibiting the Department of Corrections from placing state inmates classified higher than medium custody in private prison facilities located within Colorado or outside the state. The only exception would allow the governor to declare a correctional emergency and by proclamation authorize the department to place state inmates classified higher than medium custody in private prison facilities. Rep. Val Vigil, D-Thornton, said an audit last year revealed that the state had no policy on shipping high risk inmates out of state, and that other states have no uniform way they treat low, medium or high risk prisoners. “We had to decide whether we should change the practice or change the statutes. We decided to change the statutes,” Vigil said. The disturbance occurred a day after a similar riot at Crowley Correctional Facility, a private prison near Olney Springs, Colo. At Crowley, inmates rioted and set fires, destroying one living unit and extensively damaging four others. Both private prisons were operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which was criticized by lawmakers for not hiring enough employees at the Crowley facility. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said Colorado has a duty to protect its inmates, and the state can’t guarantee that when it sends them to other states which have their own rules. “One thing government has to do is ensure public safety. That includes inmates,” McFadyen said.

January 17, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
Sen. Deanna Hanna scored a small victory Monday when a Senate committee advanced her bill to stop Colorado from housing its most dangerous inmates at medium-security prisons outside the state. Senate Bill 23 is designed to plug loopholes in state law to prohibit the Department of Corrections from placing high-security inmates at private prisons in states that are not equipped to handle them. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday voted 4-3 to forward the proposal to the full Senate. "It's a security and safety issue," said Hanna, D-Lakewood. "At the prison in Mississippi, they were used to having medium-security prisoners, and we sent high-security prisoners there that caused some serious problems." A 2005 state audit found Colorado sent leaders of prison gangs involved in six disturbances in Colorado facilities to a medium-security lockup in Mississippi to ease overcrowding here. The Colorado Department of Corrections was forced to bring 121 of its most dangerous prisoners home from Mississippi after they were involved in two riots in an understaffed private facility.

August 24, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
If Colorado took a best-value approach to contracts rather than a low-bid approach, it could save the state millions of dollars in mediocre work that has to be redone, union representatives said Monday. "Using the low-bid process, the winning company has little incentive to do more than marginal work," Gerard Waites, a Washington, D.C., lawyer whose firm represents construction-trades unions, told members of the Interim Committee to Study the State Procurement Process. The committee was formed because of dissatisfaction with end products delivered by private vendors, such as the one that put together the Colorado Benefits Management System, the state's new $200 million system for delivering welfare benefits. Some committee members also are skeptical about whether Colorado's private prisons truly are saving money, when the cost of paying overtime to state employees to quell riots is considered.

June 20, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
The company that runs most of Colorado's much-criticized private prisons showered state lawmakers with campaign cash over the last five years.  Corrections Corp. of America and several of its executives gave at least $43,000 to legislative and gubernatorial candidates, as well as state political parties, campaign-finance records show.  The company's beneficiaries include Gov. Bill Owens; Interim State Treasurer Mark Hillman, who recently resigned his post as Senate minority leader; the former Senate president; two members of the legislature's budget committee, including the chairman; and the House speaker pro tem. A government watchdog group said that CCA's cash still could have been enough to garner influence resulting in lax oversight from the state, as auditors described in a report last week.  Pete Maysmith, of Colorado Common Cause, an advocacy group that has pushed for campaign-finance limits, sees a link between the company's donations and the state's oversight problems. "Let's not pretend otherwise," he said.  "They give large campaign contributions both to win contracts in the state and, one would also presume, to have as much free rein as possible."  Other private prison companies that don't hold Colorado contracts donated nearly $15,000 to state candidates this decade, records show.  Records show no donations from the only company besides CCA to run a Colorado private prison, GRW Corp. of Tennessee.  The company split its Colorado donations among political parties. It gave $17,250 to Democrats, including $750 to members of the Joint Budget Committee, $200 to Speaker Pro Tem Cheri Jahn and $15,000 to a party campaign committee shortly before the 2002 election. It gave Republicans $25,750, including $12,000 to party committees and $500 each to former Senate President John Andrews and former House Speaker Lola Spradley.

April 21, 2003
Wanna buy a beautiful, historic old capitol building?  How about a state prison? Or maybe even the Governor's Mansion?  Believe it or not, state lawmakers are considering selling them.  Oh, buyers wouldn't get to keep the buildings.  They could get them on a lease-sale agreement, meaning they'd have to lease them right back to the state.  (Rocky Mountain News)

April 10, 2003
The state Senate gave a green light Wednesday to using lease-purchase agreements to build a 948-bed, high-security prison and a medical school in Colorado.  Despite long, heated arguments on the Senate floor, including warnings that voters should have a voice in determining long-term debt, the issue won't be decided by an election as some lawmakers had hoped.  (Rocky Mountain News)

February 2, 2003
The senate got its first look Friday at a bill that would begin the process of building two medium-security prisons and adding space at the state's other corrections facilities.  "The problem is the prisoners who are housed out of state," said Sen. John Hanes, R-Cheyenne, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  "And that consists of 443 men and 64 women."  Most of Wyoming's out-of-state prisoners have been kept at private prisons in Colorado.  While that situation has been less than ideal because they have not been getting treatment, Colorado is now telling Wyoming to find another place for its inmates.  Some Wyoming inmates are being sent to Nevada.  (Billings Gazette)

June 22, 2004
Legislative budget writers happily gave their blessings Monday to a $2.3 million supplemental appropriation to lock up 121 problem inmates at a private prison in Mississippi.  Lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee said shipping the gang-related inmates out of Colorado may save the state money in the long run.  State corrections officials already have transferred the inmates, who they suspect were behind a recent surge in prison disturbances. Some originally went to a private prison near San Antonio, Texas, until that facility said it didn't want them.  The cost, at $51 per inmate per day, is $1.44 per inmate per day higher than the rate for private prisons in Colorado. But budget analyst Karl Spiecker told lawmakers there were no other alternatives. Spiecker said, however, there could be problems outside of difficulties in family visits. Because of the distance involved, it will be more difficult for the state to monitor the private prison. Corrections indicated it will send one or two staff to the facilities a couple of times each month.  (Rocky Mountain News)

July 22, 2003
Officials are negotiating with a second firm to build 100 beds for male prison inmates with substance abuse problems after the first company was unable to get financing.  The second company is Corrections Education Center (CEC), headquartered in Roseland, N.J., said Rep. Doug Osborn, R-Douglas, chairman of the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee and a member of the evaluation team that selected the companies.  The Colorado Department of Corrections announced on June 23 that CEC has been approved to expand its pre-parole and parole revocation center to 750 beds.  The company, described as the "largest provider of rehabilitative services to the criminal justice system" treats offenders at nine facilities in Colorado, the announcement said.  Osborn said Thursday that three companies replied to the state's request for proposal.  The company chosen first, CiviGenics, couldn't get financing to build the structure, he said.  (The Casper Star-Tribune)

June 25, 2003
Mike Arrelano, a top official with the Colorado Department of Corrections, told local officials Friday that the Colorado Department of Corrections is projecting continuing growing needs for additional prison beds. His comments came during a meeting of an ad hoc committee charged with recruiting a privately owned prison to Prowers County.  "Right now we have essentially every bed filled," said Arrelano, noting that there are only about 100 available beds among the system's 22 publicly and privately owned facilities. Arrelano estimates that by January, 2004, the DOC would be using every bed that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the state's largest private prison provider, has to offer.  He said the DOC is in the process of writing a contract with GRW, another private prison company, for a 250-bed facility in Brush, Colorado, that will house both Colorado and Wyoming prisoners.  Arrelano noted that there is both a growth of crime and a growth of population in the state, which, combined with stiff sentencing laws, drives the need for additional prison beds. He said there are factors which could reduce demand, so it is hard to predict exactly. "Demand is hard to predict because economic conditions prompt new ideas and they could affect demand," he said.  In response to a question from a resident about out of state prisoners, Arrelano said that currently only CCA is housing out of state prisoners. When privately owned facilities first came to Colorado, he said, the DOC had a shortage of prisoner space and was housing Colorado prisoners out of state. That, he said, caused a lot of problems for the DOC, and two corporations, CCA and Dominion, came into the state and built private prisons on speculation. Last year Dominion sold their Crowley County facility to CCA.  People say the private prisons can do the job of housing inmates cheaper than the state, he noted, but the private companies do not incur the same expenses as the state. The state continues to pay for medical expenses, and the state, of course, houses the higher security inmates in its own facilities. Arrelano said inmates with serious medial complications are kept in state facilities, because the DOC does not want to burden local hospitals and medical facilities in communities where privately owned prisons are located.  In response to a question about whether private prison employees could go on strike, Arrelano noted the the Colorado Department of corrections retains the right to step in and take control of any private prison any time it needs to. "The Department of Corrections will never create a risk to the public," he said. "We (DOC monitoring staff) are there, visible, twenty-four seven. Both the state and the private operators strive to make them as safe as possible."  (Lamar Daily News)

February 13, 2003
Prisons continue to be a growth industry in Colorado as the state, strapped for cash, looks for ways to build and fill them without a big up-front hit on the budget. Department of Corrections officials said Tuesday that in addition to financing a second state-owned and operated Colorado State Penitentiary of up to 948 high-security cells, they would like to contract with private prisons for an additional 5,000 medium-security beds. Colorado law prohibits privatizing high-security prisons housing dangerous criminals, and Gov. Bill Owens' policy is to cap lower-security private prisons at no more than 30 percent of total beds statewide. Rich Schweigert, the department's director of finance and administration, said all four existing private prisons in Colorado now are owned by Corrections Corporation of America in Nashville , Tenn. Colorado inmates currently fill 2,409 of CCA's prison beds -- 584 at the 724-bed Bent County facility, 616 of the 778-bed Huerfano County facility, 639 of the 1,185 beds at Crowley County and 570 of the 820 beds at Burlington in Kit Carson County . The remaining 1,000 beds are or soon could be available to Colorado , reported CCA President John Ferguson. The state of Wyoming has inmates in 365 of CCA's beds here and has been put on notice that they will have to move out if and when Colorado decides to take them over. According to Schweigert, private prisons pay employees an average of $ 8,000 less than state correctional officers' salaries. While CCA is Colorado 's sole private prison operator right now, the state has accepted bids for two other 500-bed prisons submitted by CCA competitors. If those contracts are completed, they would take care of 1,000 of the 5,000 additional private prison beds identified as needed by the state. (The Pueblo Chieftain)

January 13, 2003
Wyoming inmates housed in Colorado prisons will be sent packing as the Colorado Department of Corrections makes more space available for its own exploding prison population.  Wyoming Department of Corrections spokeswoman Melinda Brazzale said Wyoming is forced to send prisoners out of state because of the lack of space in Wyoming's prisons.  (Star Tribunal)

January 8, 2003
Growth in Colorado's prison system appears ready to explode over the next decade as the population of prisoners soars, state officials warn.  State Department of Corrections officials told lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday that they are preparing to ask for the construction of enough private prisons to house 1,500 low- to medium-security inmates by 2006.  But not everyone agrees with the rapid growth of the private prison system.  Rep. Tom Plant, D-Nederland, said all four of the state's private prisons soon will be owned by Corrections Corporation of America, creating a monopoly that could leave the state hostage to higher prices.  "We are becoming overly reliant on the private prison system, which is motivated by profit, not societal objectives of rehabilitation," Plant said. "As we become more reliant on them, we become hostages of private prisons."  To find more space for Colorado inmates, officials will begin this summer kicking out 369 Wyoming inmates from two of Colorado's private prisons.  "We will do it gradually starting in August, depending on our intake," said Gerald Gasko, director of Corrections Services for the department. "Wyoming is already starting to rent beds in Nevada."  The Wyoming prisoners are housed in correctional facilities in Kit Carson and Crowley counties.  Six years ago, Colorado housed prisoners in Texas, Minnesota and Missouri, and had a bad experience, Gasko said.  "The prisons were expensive and poorly run," he said. "It required us to be constantly running to these prisons to solve problem. ..."  (Denver Post)

September 25, 2002 
The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) today released a report raising serious questions as to the accuracy of figures used by the state to show cost savings from privatizing prison operations.    The CCJRC report, "Private Prisons and Public Money: Hidden Costs Borne by Colorado’s Taxpayers," explores indirect (or “hidden”) costs which the state still pays for inmates incarcerated in privately operated prisons. Although the state pays less money per inmate per day when housing a prisoner in a privately-operated facility, the DOC (and by extension, taxpayers) still foot the bill for functions such as medical care, transportation, and administrative costs.  The FY 2002-03 DOC budget anticipates spending $47.3 million on private prisons during the year. The report draws on studies (conducted in other states and nationally) which have found no conclusive evidence of cost savings from privatizing prisons and point to the probability that private prisons provide substandard services.   “It is absolutely crucial that Colorado gets to the bottom of the cost savings issue before we put any more money into the privatization experiment,” said CCJRC Co-Coordinator Stephen Raher, the author of the report.  “We don’t know the truth about whether we’re actually saving money and the evidence indicates that private prisons are unsafe operations with inadequate rehabilitative programming.”  (www.ccjrc.org)  

Crowley County Correctional Facility
Olney Springs, Colorado
CCA (formerly run by Dominion)
Apr. 24 2013 blogs.westword.com
On the eve of a 25-week trial that promised to focus on claims of poor training and worse management, the nation's largest private prison company has reached a settlement with nearly 200 former inmates over a 2004 riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in southeastern Colorado. The uprising, which plaintiffs' attorney Bill Trine says was telegraphed in advance and could have been prevented, left many noncombatants terrorized first by the rioters and then by corrections staff retaking the prison. Trine announced this morning the $600,000 settlement his 193 clients have reached with Corrections Corporation of America, which operates more than sixty private lockups in sixteen states, including four in Colorado. Depending on their injuries, individual plaintiffs could receive anywhere from $1,200 to $17,000. That's "pennies on the dollar" for a billion-dollar company like CCA, plaintiff Vance Adams noted. Yet the settlement is an unusual one in that CCA was unable to keep it secret; while the company has been sued frequently, it rarely settles a case without insisting on a confidentiality agreement as a condition for payment. Post-riot, 2004. After eight years of litigation involving hundreds of depositions and motions and hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, Trine wasted no time calling a press conference to detail the settlement and denounce what he calls "the evils inherent in the private prison system" -- many of which were on display in abundance before, during and immediately after the Crowley riot. As extensively reported in our previous coverage, Crowley was an incendiary device in search of a match in the summer of 2004 -- a poorly supervised operation with skimpy meals, well-documented security flaws and rising tension among Colorado prisoners and new arrivals shipped in from Washington state. During the discovery process, Trine learned that many officers and inmates had expressed concerns about the deteriorating situation, including a frantic staff meeting held on July 20, just hours before the place went off, during which several COs questioned the wisdom or letting all the prisoners on the yard at once when so many were threatening a disturbance that very night. Despite the numerous warnings, only a skeleton crew was on hand that evening as a disgruntled core of Washington inmates began helping themselves to weight equipment, smashing things and going after reputed snitches. Staff quickly abandoned the place, leaving some of their colleagues behind. "They didn't have enough trained staff to deal with a disturbance, let alone a riot," Trine says. By the time SORT teams took control hours later, at least two inmates had been seriously assaulted and two units of the prison damaged by fire and flood. "I saw a bunch of people who were angry and taking it out on inanimate objects," former inmate William Morris recalls. "They were destroying CCA from the ground up. Unfortunately, some of them also started hurting other people." Although numerous inmates hadn't participated in the mayhem -- some had stayed in their pods, or locked down in the kitchen and other areas, even protecting a female librarian who'd been abandoned in the guards' flight -- all 1,100 of them were treated the same by the response teams. Adams, who was trying to assist a deaf cellmate, was forced to lie face down in sewage, dragged ankles-first from his cell, and dumped outside all night in tightly ratcheted plastic cuffs. Men had to relieve themselves in their pants while being taunted and gassed by responders, then took showers while being video-recorded by female staff. "It was very humiliating," Adams says. "I would take zero money if CCA was just forced to give up its prisons to the state to operate." Trine says some inmates were kept in isolation for as long as six months. Many received little or no medical treatment, and one seriously injured prisoner was quickly paroled to avoid further medical expense. In the years of legal wrangling that followed, the attorney learned that CCA had prepared its own internal report on the riot but failed to produce it, claiming it was lost. He also came across entirely different reports of the incident filed by the same employee, suggesting that the company kept one version for public consumption and another for internal use.



Nov 6, 2012 The Cheiftain
An inmate at the privately owned Crowley County Correctional Facility died from injuries he sustained in an incident on Oct. 28. The man was identified by Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti as Adam Dixon, 39. Although the facility is private, DOC monitors some of its operations. The inmate was transported to St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center after receiving "significant injuries," Sanguinetti said. Sanguinetti did not say if the injuries were caused by another inmate nor what the injuries were. "The incident is being investigated. I do not have any of the particulars at this time," Sanguinetti said. Dixon was serving time for second-degree murder. The Inspector General's office is investigating the altercation.


April 4, 2012 The Chieftain
A report last week that Corrections Corporation of America needs a subsidy from the state or it will start shedding jobs has caught the attention of officials in Bent and Crowley counties. Las Animas is home to the Bent County Correctional Facility, the city's largest employer at 280 employees. Las Animas County Commissioner Bill Long said Tuesday that if CCA decided to cut jobs or shut down the prison it would cripple the county. "It would be an absolute disaster for Bent County," Long said. "To first lose the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility, which used to be our largest employer, and then possibly this, it just can't be described as anything other than awful." Long said that in addition to the correctional facility being the county's largest employer, it also is its largest taxpayer at around $400,000 annually. He added that the prison purchases its utilities from the city of Las Animas and has a monthly bill around $80,000. Long said he and his fellow commissioners are getting word from the state that no facilities are going to be shut down but that staff reductions are certainly possible."We're unhappy that this is even being proposed," he said. Olney Springs, which is home to the Crowley County Correctional Facility that also is operated by the CCA, is another correctional facility at risk of losing jobs.

March 29, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado’s declining prison population has imperiled two private prisons in Southeastern Colorado, where the economy already is reeling from the recent closure of a state-run prison. Savings from the pending closure of another state-run prison in Southern Colorado could be used to prop up the for-profit ventures. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, has notified the state that it needs a subsidy or it will start shedding jobs, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Roxane White said Wednesday. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she said. Similar threats loom at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, which also is operated by CCA, and Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs, operated by Community Education Centers Inc., according to White. “At both the CCA facilities and Cheyenne Mountain, up to 20 percent of their beds are empty,” she said. “They are looking at the need to make staffing reductions.” White confirmed that diverting the estimated $4.5 million in savings the state expects to realize next year from the pending closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City is one option, but she doubts that would be enough to satisfy the private prison companies. “It’s not enough to cover it,” she said. “In this case, we need in the neighborhood of $10 (million) to $15 million to keep the (private) prisons all operational.” Ideally, White said, any action by the private prison companies could be postponed while the state conducts a thorough study of the factors driving the declining prison population, whether the trend is likely to continue and how the state can best manage its resources in light of the findings.

December 21, 2011 Westword
Seven years ago inmates at a private prison in southeastern Colorado went on an all-night rampage, chasing the shorthanded staff from the premises, attacking suspected snitches, setting fires and causing millions of dollars in damages. Now documents filed in a long-running legal battle confirm what many prisoners have been saying all along -- that prison officials received ample warning of impending trouble but failed to take action in time. The 2004 riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, has emerged as a kind of case study in the multiple ways things can go wrong in a for-profit prison. The night of the incident, the prison had only 47 employees on duty, including eight trainees, to supervise 1,122 inmates. There had been growing tension at the facility for weeks over issues ranging from food and rec privileges to the presence of numerous disgruntled inmates recently shipped in from Washington and Wyoming to fill beds. The Colorado Department of Corrections' after-action report would later blast CCA officials for inadequate training and emergency response procedures -- but the DOC's own monitoring of the prison up to the night of the riot had been cursory at best, marked by a distinct failure to follow up on report after report of inmate complaints and indications that the place could "go off" soon. Yet some of the most telling details about the riot and its aftermath have emerged slowly, over the course of an epic lawsuit filed against CCA on behalf of close to 200 Crowley prisoners. The plaintiffs, who claim to be among the majority of prisoners who "sat out" the riot by quietly lying down in the yard or in their units, contend that CCA could have prevented the riot by responding promptly to trouble signs -- and that they were abused and injured by corrections officers in the aftermath of the incident. A recently filed court document includes excerpts of depositions by several current and former Crowley officers, who acknowledge having numerous discussions with inmates and among themselves about brewing trouble in the days and hours leading up to the riot on July 20, 2004. A body-slamming use of force on a Washington inmate earlier that day prompted several inmates to inform guards that the Washington group was going to seek payback that night. One told staffer Wanona Wyker that "he had been trying to tell staff that there was going to be a riot...that someone needed to listen, that Washington inmates were saying they were going to tear the place up." Despite numerous warnings, Crowley's commanders failed to lock down the facility or stagger the recreational time. Instead, the warden left at five, and a skeleton crew remained when all 1100 inmates were released for recreation. A confrontation between a group of officers and Washington inmates quickly led to a staff evacuation; emboldened inmates poured into the housing units and began to help themselves to free weights. Once they realized no one was going to stop them, they started breaking windows and doors, smashing electronic control centers, busting fixtures and flooding tiers, setting fires and rifling case managers' records. Many inmates say they attempted to wait out the rampage in their cells but were driven out by smoke -- or, after the SORT teams arrived hours later, tear gas. In many cases, prisoners say they were treated more harshly by staff in the aftermath of the riot than anything they endured during the disturbance. An account filed by inmate Justin Dougherty is typical of the plaintiffs' claims of injury and abuse: "He was on his way to the weight room when the riot started on the west side [and] he heard the announcement to lock down. He tried to cross to the other side of the yard, but was unable to return to his unit on the east side. Guards shot at him as he tried to get to the east yard, a Molotov cocktail exploded near his feet, and inmates assaulted him...Shot 3-4 times with rubber bullets and bird shot...BBs were embedded in back, face, and lips. Assaulted by other inmates: hit with piece of debris in the back, punched on side of head, chased by 5-6 inmates with weapons after escaping the chaos in the yard. Bruises on neck, back, forearms. "Smoke and gas inhalation in Unit 1-a for approximately 2 hrs. Coughing, skin and eyes burning. Saw inmates looking through files for reasons to physically assault other inmates. Saw inmates being chased, stabbed, and one thrown off the tier. Hid in a cell, under a bunk, until water filled with feces began flooding the cell. When SORT arrived, they made him lie face down in the fetid water to be pulled from cell and cuffed. "Air full of gas. Hands purple and swollen with no feeling, wrists cut and bleeding from being cuffed in back for 8 hrs. Still has scars...Denied water in yard even though eyes burning from gas and smoke. Denied medical treatment. Denied water for nearly 24 hours. No food for 20-24 hours. Forced to wear soiled clothing for 3 days. Dehumanized and humiliated. Has lung problems caused by the smoke inhalation and tear gas during the riot." The lawsuit, brought by Boulder attorney Bill Trine and Washington-based Public Justice, has involved taking statements from dozens of CCA employees as well as hundreds of former Crowley inmates. After more than six years of litigation, no trial date has yet been set, but a status conference in the case is scheduled for later this week.

October 14, 2009 The Denver Post
A private prison operator will pay $1.3 million to settle complaints from 21 female employees who claimed they suffered harassment from male supervisors and colleagues ranging from sexually explicit comments to rape. A female officer complained a male co-worker sexually harassed her and that after she complained, she was reassigned to an isolated location of the medium-security Crowley County Correctional Facility where she was raped by the man she complained about, according to the federal lawsuit. The suit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also accused a chief of security at the prison of forcing a female correctional officer to have sex with him so she could keep her job. Female employees also accused their male counterparts of openly viewing pornography and making demeaning sexual jokes about them. The EEOC sued Corrections Corporation of America and Dominion Correctional Services on behalf of the female employees in 2006. Although a settlement was reached, the defendants did not admit liability. Dominion is no longer operating prisons and the company could not be reached for comment. "CCA settled the claim to avoid the time, expense, and uncertainties of continued litigation and trial," said a statement issued by that company. CCA assumed control of the prison in January 2003 from Dominion and claims that a "substantial number" of the more serious allegations occurred under Dominion's operation. "Of the 21 individuals alleging discriminatory conduct, eight were never CCA employees, but were employed solely by Dominion," the statement said. "Moreover, although seven of the 21 individuals were employed by both CCA and Dominion, the majority of their claims also related to events that allegedly occurred before CCA began operating the facility." EEOC attorney Rita Byrnes Kittle said some of the employees accused of sexual harassment over the years have resigned, but some are still working at the prison. Guadalupe Gonzales, the 39-year-old former employee accused of rape in 2002, was convicted in 2005 of felony sexual assault. He was sentenced to four years of probation and is registered as a sex offender. As part of the settlement agreement, Dominion cannot operate a prison in Colorado for three years. CCA must have sexual harassment training conducted by an outside expert for the next three years and have a toll-free number available for employees to call to report sexual harassment. Some of the women who lost their jobs because of the harassment will get them back and will also get letters of apology. The settlement comes four months after a federal judge imposed a $1.3 million judgment against a former Colorado correctional officer who sexually abused a female inmate at the state women's complex in Denver.

October 2, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Two companies that operated the prison at Olney Springs have agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged sexual harassment of women employees and retaliation against them. The money will be paid by Corrections Corporation of America and Dominion Correctional Services to 21 female staff identified as victims of unlawful conduct and to attorneys who represented three of them. The companies operated the private Crowley County Correctional Facility. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the two company defendants on Thursday submitted the terms of the proposed settlement to a U.S. District Court judge for approval. The Pueblo Chieftain first reported last week that a settlement had been reached on the eve of a 16-day trial that was to have started last Monday. The payments range between $7,500 and $155,000 each, based on the circumstances of specific employees. The private attorneys will receive $140,000 of the $1.3 million. The EEOC sued the companies in 2006, claiming the alleged harassment and retaliation was an unlawful employment practice because the companies purportedly allowed the harassment, starting in at least 2000. The federal agency alleged male supervisors deliberately put female employees in dangerous situations in retaliation for complaining about being sexually harassed. The alleged "repeated, serious" harassment purportedly included groping and pawing. The alleged retaliation purportedly included "dangerous shift assignments and reduced opportunities for advancement." The companies denied the claims and allegations. They stated in Thursday's court document they agreed to settle the case "solely to avoid the cost and uncertainties of trial and to buy their peace." The payments are to cover pay the women were entitled to but never received, to compensate them for damages from the mistreatment and to punish the companies. The proposed settlement also requires Corrections Corporation, the current operator of the prison, to meet several other obligations. They include expunging parts of personnel files of some of the women who were disciplined or terminated from their jobs, training managers and staff regarding sexual harassment and retaliation, as well as maintaining a clear policy about those issues that conforms with federal law. Dominion operated the prison until January 2003 and Corrections Corporation after that.

September 24, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
A federal agency that alleged male supervisors at the Olney Springs prison deliberately put female employees in dangerous assignments has agreed to settle its lawsuit against operators of the private prison. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged the supervisors put the females in danger as retaliation for objecting to "repeated, serious" sexual harassment, including groping and pawing. The EEOC sued Corrections Corporation of America and Dominion Correctional Services that operated the prison, the Crowley County Correctional Facility. A settlement was reached this week on the eve of a trial, The Pueblo Chieftain learned. The federal lawsuit sought damages to punish the companies for their "malicious and/or reckless conduct" by allegedly allowing its male employees to sexually harass female staffers. The lawsuit also sought compensation for the women due to the alleged misconduct. The EEOC, when it sued the companies in 2006, alleged the harassment had occurred since at least 2000. The agency claimed the alleged harassment was an unlawful employment practice because the companies purportedly allowed the harassment. Both companies denied the allegations. Dominion operated the prison until January 2003 and Corrections Corporation after that. The case had been set for a 16-day trial beginning Monday. Terms of the settlement were not available Wednesday. The EEOC alleged the harassment was "repeated, serious, verbal and physical" in which "female employees were routinely groped, pawed and physically assaulted by male management and male co-workers." "Females who resisted sexual activity suffered consequences, including . . . hostile and demeaning verbal and physical advances and even dangerous shift assignments and reduced opportunities for advancement," the lawsuit alleged. The companies "were aware of the sexual harassment, (but) failed to take reasonable measures to prevent and promptly remedy it," the agency alleged. Corrections Corporation in 2006 asserted "any unlawful acts or omissions . . . were not authorized, ratified or sanctioned by CCA." It asserted it "exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any unlawful behavior." Dominion in 2007 contended parts of the allegations were "frivolous" and any actions taken with respect to female employees "were taken for legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons." The EEOC said in 2006 it tried to reach a settlement with the companies before filing the lawsuit. Dominion said in 2004 it fired a chief of security at the prison after investigating him for sexual misconduct. The company said the security chief in that episode was not the same security chief who was named in a lawsuit by two women employees as the man who allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct against them. Dominion in 2003 settled the lawsuit and a similar lawsuit involving a different male employee. Dominion in 2005 settled a lawsuit by a former female guard who alleged she was subjected to "severe and pervasive" offensive comments from male supervisors. Hundreds of inmates took control of the prison for several hours in July 2004 and the handful of guards on duty retreated. The rioters tore up parts of the prison and set numerous fires.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

June 3, 2008 Pueblo Chieftain
Some inmates at the Crowley County Correctional Facility won a new trial last week. The 234 inmates had sued the owners of the private prison, Corrections Corporation of America, following the 2004 riot at the Olney Springs lockup, charging that they were punished unfairly for that event even though they said they were not involved. The inmates sued the prison in two cases filed in Crowley County district court in 2005 and 2006, but saw both cases dismissed by District Judge Michael Schiferl on grounds that they hadn't fully exhausted all their administrative appeals through the Colorado Department of Corrections. But a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals overruled those decisions, saying state law on administrative appeals applies only on cases brought under statutory and constitutional provisions, not on common law tort claims as this suit did. "Giving the words used by the General Assembly their plain and ordinary meaning, it is clear that that phrase (under any statute or constitutional provision) does not encompass civil actions brought under the common law," Judge JoAnn Vogt wrote in one of two rulings, which were joined by Judges Dennis Graham and Robert Kapelke. Common law is based on judicial decisions, rather than laws set by statute or constitution, the judges said. In July 2004, several Crowley inmates rioted over what they termed poor prison conditions. A 2005 state audit of private prisons, done as a result of the riot criticized DOC for not properly overseeing how they operate, said problems existed that could lead to more riots. In their lawsuit, some inmates said they were assaulted by prison guards, including being shot with pellets and rubber bullets during the riot because they fled fires that other inmates had set in their cells. In their suit, the inmates said they were ordered to lie face down and were handcuffed with plastic ties that cut into their skin and caused their hands to go numb.

May 9, 2008 NOW
I've been to quite a few prisons, both in the United States and Latin America. Before visiting a prison I always need time to prepare myself mentally for what lies ahead. It's hard to see people living behind bars. For this piece, I was going to see a private prison -- one that operates with the goal of making profits. As I read up on the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Colorado I found out how lucrative the business of prisons can be. The prison is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, which had total revenues of nearly $1.5 billion in 2007. According to a chart in their most recent annual report, they expect revenues will continue to rise. In fact, when I walked into Crowley, a medium security prison, I immediately saw a sign that shows how their NYSE stock is performing. At the prison, there were no signs of the 2004 prison riot, which left more than a dozen inmates injured and caused extensive damage to five living units. In fact, Crowley had facilities for prisoners that were better than anything I had seen before. Computers, schoolbooks and attentive students filled one classroom. There was a huge gym, complete with aerobics and yoga classes, lots of open space for prisoners to stretch out, as well as a program to rescue greyhound dogs. They had a partnership with Habitat for Humanity for an inmate carpentry program. And there was a beautiful greenhouse there, with ferns and flowers that were well tended by the prisoners. Maria checks out a screen from the computerized prison monitoring system. Later, we went to one of the prison's 'pods', essentially a wing of the prison, and I spoke to a young security officer there. She showed me a screen from the computerized prison monitoring system. On the screen the prison doors were open, when in reality the doors were shut. "It's messed up," she told me. Seeing the prisoners at Crowley made me wonder what these men had done that made them end up behind bars. It recently came out that one in every hundred people in America is behind bars. Many are incarcerated because they were caught abusing drugs. For many years, experts have said that there are alternatives to incarceration, such as treatment for drug addiction that would cut down on recidivism. As a journalist, my job is to "tell the untold story," but visiting a prison -- especially a private prison -- is especially challenging. I couldn't find out how many drug offenders or other prisoners at Crowley end up back behind bars because nobody is keeping track. And I couldn't find out if the numbers of assaults in this prison had gone up or down since the riot, because those records are not available to the public. These kind of statistics are treated as privileged information by private prison companies. If knowledge is power, a journalist, and by extension the public, is at a disadvantage when it comes to the corporate corrections industry. I came away from the experience with greater insight into the new ways we define prisons, to match the new ways we define prisoners. I'd just like to think that the corporate world has as much investment -- financial and otherwise -- in keeping people out of prison as it does in building more of them.

January 25, 2007 AP
The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed Thursday that an inmate who was in a private prison in Crowley County during an October 2004 uprising was wrongly convicted of rioting. Mark A. Garcia, 35, was charged by prison officials with engaging in the riot. A hearing board found him guilty and imposed 20 days in segregation and the loss of 45 days of good-time credits against his sentence. Garcia challenged the ruling, and Crowley County District Judge Jon Kolomitz reversed the hearing board's decision. He ordered the prison to restore Garcia's good-time credit and award him two days of good- time credit for each day he spent in segregation. The defendants -- the prison, several prison officials and the Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the prison under a state contract -- appealed. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said the judge was correct in reversing the riot conviction, but said the judge did not have the authority to order the prison to award Garcia additional good-time credit. The panel said evidence against Garcia was insufficient to support a conviction of engaging in a riot. The riot, which left more than a dozen inmates injured and caused extensive damage to five living units, prompted fines against the prison operator and reforms in the way private prisons are run in Colorado. Garcia argued that nothing he did during the uprising constituted rioting under the definition in state law. Garcia testified to the hearing board that he disobeyed a lockdown order but touched nothing and broke nothing. According to the Department of Correction's Web site, Garcia was sentenced in 2003 for drug and theft charges from El Paso County and is expected to be released in 2013. He is now at the state-run Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Crowley County. Garcia and about 240 other inmates filed two separate lawsuits in 2005 alleging they were beaten, abused and inappropriately punished after the uprising even though they did not participate in it. The inmates are awaiting a different trial judge's ruling on the prison company's motions to dismiss lawsuits, said Boulder attorney Bill Trine, who represents the inmates.

November 29, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
Three workers at the Olney Springs prison have joined a lawsuit that alleges female workers were given dangerous assignments as retaliation for objecting to repeated, serious sexual harassment. A U.S. district court judge on Tuesday allowed the three to become intervenors in the lawsuit of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against operators of the Crowley County Correctional Facility. The EEOC two months ago sued Corrections Corporation of America, which has operated the prison since January 2003, and Dominion Correctional Services, which operated it from December 2000 to January 2003. The lawsuit alleges violations of federal laws against hostile work environments and retaliation for complaining about discrimination. "Female employees were routinely groped, pawed and physically assaulted by male management and male co-workers," the EEOC alleged. Becoming intervenors allows the three to participate directly in the litigation and to have their own attorney, said Denver attorney Barry Roseman, who represents them. They are seeking monetary damages in amounts to be proven at a trial. The three are Sabinita Barron of Rocky Ford, Marcia Manchego of Ordway and Christine Newland of Colorado Springs. He said Barron is a guard and that Manchego had been a case manager and Newland had been a guard, but no longer work at the prison. The EEOC sued on behalf of all female employees who allegedly had been subjected to the illegal behavior. The companies have not yet filed in court their answers to the lawsuit. "Historically there has been a pattern of this kind of behavior where women enter into a traditionally male-dominated workplace," EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill said when the lawsuit was filed. "We're trying to stop harassment based on sex, ethnicity, race and national origin," said EEOC supervising attorney Nancy Weeks. She said the agency tried to reach a settlement with the companies before filing the lawsuit, "but our efforts didn't work." The EEOC's district director, Chester Bailey, said employers "need to be especially aware that when employees complain of discrimination, the proper response is to investigate and resolve the issue. To retaliate against those who complain is a separate violation."

November 7, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A court record shows that a tentative settlement was reached Monday between the operator of the Olney Springs prison and an inmate seriously injured in a riot. The record shows that U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer conducted a confidential conference with both sides to aid them in settling the lawsuit and that he then said in court a tentative settlement agreement was reached. Shaffer vacated all further proceedings in the case, a step judges typically take when they believe a tentative settlement will become final. Shaffer gave both sides until Nov. 17 to jointly file their request to have him dismiss the lawsuit. Terms of the tentative settlement were not disclosed, but the record of the proceedings says that everyone in Monday's settlement negotiations indicated to the judge their agreement with the terms. Former inmate Rudy Lujan in January sued Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Crowley County Correctional Facility. He alleged the firm's negligence allowed other inmates to beat him in March, April, May and July 2004. He also alleged the firm's mismanagement and greed, manifested by not hiring sufficient guards, led to the July 2004 riot in which he was seriously injured by rioting inmates who considered him a snitch. Corrections Corporation denied it was responsible and contended, without elaboration, in a February 2006 court filing that Lujan's injuries resulted from his "assumption of the risk" and that he was negligent. The company said other inmates, not the firm, are responsible for his injuries in the riot. Hundreds of inmates took control of the prison for several hours and the handful of guards on duty retreated. The rioters tore up parts of the prison and set numerous fires. Lujan alleged Corrections Corporation was responsible because guards did not respond to his pleas for help. The firm denied any wrongdoing. Lujan alleged he repeatedly told prison staff about the earlier monthly beatings. The firm denied being aware of any threat to him.

October 13, 2006 Summit Daily News
Six private prisons in the state were fined about $131,000 for failing to staff mandatory positions, the Colorado Department of Corrections said. It was the second time such penalties were levied since a riot broke out in 2004 at the Crowley County Correctional Facility and an audit exposed staffing problems at the prisons. The department released documents this week showing the six prisons had 1,071 vacant positions from February to May. The Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington received the largest fine of $83,103 for having 567 positions open. It was docked in $103,743 previously after it left 701 jobs vacant from November to January. The center is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also runs the Crowley County Correctional Facility. Alison Morgan, the department's head of private prison monitoring, said some places have difficulty finding and retaining workers, especially in remote areas.

October 3, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A federal agency is alleging that male supervisors at the Olney Springs prison put female employees in dangerous assignments as retaliation for objecting to "repeated, serious" sexual harassment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made the allegations in a lawsuit against companies that currently operate and previously operated the Crowley County Correctional Facility, a private prison, . The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court against Corrections Corporation of America and against Dominion Correctional Services, a limited liability company. Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation has operated the prison since January 2003. Edmond, Okla.-based Dominion operated the prison from December 2000 to January 2003. Since at least 2000, the companies "have engaged in unlawful employment practices . . . by allowing its employees, including but not limited to management level officials, to sexually harass" female workers, the EEOC alleges in the lawsuit. The harassment was "repeated, serious, verbal and physical," in which "female employees were routinely groped, pawed and physically assaulted by male management and male co-workers," the lawsuit alleges. "Females who resisted sexual activity suffered consequences, including . . . hostile and demeaning verbal and physical advances, undesirable and even dangerous shift assignments and reduced opportunities for advancement," the lawsuit alleges. The companies allegedly "were aware of the sexual harassment, (but) failed to take reasonable measures to prevent and promptly remedy" it. Corrections Corporation did not respond to a request for comment. Dominion could not be reached for comment. The EEOC lawsuit seeks: A court order barring the companies from any practice "which creates a sexually or retaliatory hostile work environment" and from retaliating against employees who object to practices of that sort. A court order requiring the companies to carry out practices providing equal employment opportunities for women "and which eradicate the effects of its past unlawful employment practices, including retaliation." Back pay for former female employees who were victims of the alleged misconduct. Front pay, or reinstatement to their jobs. Compensation for money the employees lost from the alleged misconduct and for emotional pain. Damages to punish the companies for their "malicious and/or reckless conduct." A court order requiring the companies to provide training to their staffs about "discriminatory harassment and retaliation in the workplace." In 2004, a Dominion official said the company fired a chief of security at the prison after investigating him for sexual misconduct. The official said that the security chief in that episode was not the same chief of security who was named in a lawsuit by two women employees as the man who allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct against them. Dominion in 2003 settled the lawsuit and a similar suit involving a different male employee. At the time in 2004 when Dominion said it had fired a chief of security, the EEOC was seeking a court order to compel the company to provide information for an agency investigation. In a court document at that time, the EEOC said a chief of security at the prison forced a female sergeant, beginning in 2002, to engage in sex "under threat of losing her job" and beginning in 2001 subjected another female sergeant to "offensive, gender-based harassment." Friday's lawsuit stemmed from the 2004 investigation, Nancy Weeks, a supervisory EEOC attorney in Denver, said Monday. In 2005, Dominion settled a lawsuit filed by Mandy Bravo, a former female guard who alleged she was subjected to "severe and pervasive" offensive remarks from male superiors from 2001 to 2002. Hundreds of inmates took control of the prison for several hours in July 2004 and the handful of guards on duty retreated. The rioters tore up parts of the prison and set numerous fires.

June 25, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
The state has levied fines of $126,000 for short-staffing at two private prisons run by Corrections Corp. of America, which just won a contract to incarcerate 720 more Colorado prisoners. The new inmates will go to a different CCA prison in Las Animas, which had only minor staffing violations during inspections last winter. The fines are the first in Colorado. The penalties were recommended by a searing state auditor's report on the private prisons last year. The audit was prompted by a riot at the CCA prison in Crowley County in 2004. An inquiry found that CCA's staff-to-inmate ratio was one-seventh of a state prison's at the time. Only 33 uniformed officers were guarding 1,122 inmates. Staffing has improved since the fines were levied, said Alison Morgan, the state's supervisor of private prisons. CCA's Kit Carson County prison in Burlington, near the Colorado- Kansas state line, was fined $103,743 for leaving 701 required shifts empty in a 10-week period from Nov. 1 to Jan. 10, records show. That's about 10 people short per day over three shifts. The missing staff members were largely guards in various locations. On five shifts, the supervisor was missing, and on 44 shifts, there was no assistant supervisor. The fines could have been much higher. The state waived nearly $46,000 of penalties for October 2005 at the Kit Carson prison, saying it was unfair to enforce the contract only a few days after it was signed in September. Documents say state officials complained that in November, there were 435 cases in which employees did not sign out, making it impossible for state inspectors to know if the short-staffing had been even worse. CCA's Crowley County prison in Olney Springs was fined nearly $23,000 for leaving 157 shifts open in the same period. It, too, was given a reprieve for October's fines, which would have been $18,000.

March 30, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
A second lawsuit has been filed by 150 more inmates of the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs charging its private operator, Corrections Corporation of America, with negligence in a July 20, 2004, riot. Officials from the Washington, D.C., advocacy group, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, have joined the Boulder law firm of Trine and Metcalf in the latest lawsuit filed March 7, and also supported the previous suit filed by 84 inmates in 2005. The suits contend that the prison was understaffed and its guards undertrained, that food was substandard, and that the staff refused to hear inmate grievances.

March 12 2006 AP
A group of Colorado inmates who started a riot at a private prison in Mississippi in 2004 so they could be transferred back to Colorado will force lawmakers to review their policy that allowed the Department of Corrections to ship troublemakers out of state. This week, The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on a measure (Senate Bill 23) prohibiting the Department of Corrections from placing state inmates classified higher than medium custody in private prison facilities located within Colorado or outside the state. The only exception would allow the governor to declare a correctional emergency and by proclamation authorize the department to place state inmates classified higher than medium custody in private prison facilities. Rep. Val Vigil, D-Thornton, said an audit last year revealed that the state had no policy on shipping high risk inmates out of state, and that other states have no uniform way they treat low, medium or high risk prisoners. “We had to decide whether we should change the practice or change the statutes. We decided to change the statutes,” Vigil said. The disturbance occurred a day after a similar riot at Crowley Correctional Facility, a private prison near Olney Springs, Colo. At Crowley, inmates rioted and set fires, destroying one living unit and extensively damaging four others. Both private prisons were operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which was criticized by lawmakers for not hiring enough employees at the Crowley facility. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said Colorado has a duty to protect its inmates, and the state can’t guarantee that when it sends them to other states which have their own rules. “One thing government has to do is ensure public safety. That includes inmates,” McFadyen said.

March 6, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
Eighteen months ago, inmates rioted at a private prison in Crowley County, setting fires, smashing everything in two cell houses and seriously damaging another three. More than 100 officers were needed to stop the violence, which injured 13. A state investigation blamed the riot on mismanagement by Corrections Corp. of America, the prison's owner. The company had 33 guards overseeing 1,122 inmates when the riot began. The state Department of Corrections tightened its contract with CCA to require more and better trained staff. Now, the company has a major advantage in bidding for 2,250 new private prison beds that Colorado urgently needs for its soaring number of convicts. Although several companies have expressed interest in the work, CCA already has the land and the necessary zoning. That could make it the only bidder capable of meeting the state's demand that the first 750 beds open in less than two years. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections is unclear on whether it can consider the riot in evaluating bids. At first, department spokesman Walt Ahrens said it cannot. "Procurement rules do not allow the department to negatively evaluate a new proposal from CCA because of a past riot at a CCA facility," he said in an e-mail. Later, the department pointed to the bid document, which says that evaluators will consider information about the bidder's past performance, but only if the bidder brings it up in its proposal. Still later, the department said it can request further information on such incidents "as long as the bidders are treated essentially the same." Finally, it said, "We are not going to speculate on what may happen. The process has just begun." But awarding the contract to CCA would make Colorado even more reliant on the company, a critic says. CCA "has a track record at Crowley that would make anybody question whether they are competent to run a prison," said Christie Donner, of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, which opposes all private prisons. In Colorado, a state investigation issued a blistering report after the riot at CCA's 1,800-bed Crowley County Correctional Center in Olney Springs in 2004. The report said that CCA's staff-to-inmate ratio was one-seventh of a state prison's and that management ignored signs of trouble. A new contract between Colorado and CCA requires more staff, better training, increased medical care and better food. A state audit also found fault with the state Department of Corrections, citing insufficient inspections and a practice of keeping dangerous inmates at a medium-security private prison, in violation of state law. Dave Schouweiler of the Corrections Department said it would be convenient to have a private lockup adjacent to a state prison. But state prisons pay about 50 percent better and it would be difficult for a private prison to compete for staff, he said. Though CCA has an advantage of speed and cost efficiencies of existing facilities, it's not the only potential bidder. George Killinger of Cornell Cos., which houses 18,000 inmates nationwide, noted that the state's proposal calls for 750 beds each opening in February 2008, August 2008 and August 2009. He said that allows the possibility of building one large prison with a cost-effective central administration, instead of several smaller ones. Other prospective bidders include Emerald Correctional Management, of Shreveport, La.; the Geo Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., which is ready to start construction on a 500-bed, specialized preparole prison in Pueblo; GRW Corp., which runs a private women's prison in Brush; Larry Small and Associates, of Hattiesburg, Miss., which is pushing a patented design that allows guards to see all prisoners at all times; and Management and Training Corp.

January 11, 2006 Denver Post
Rudy Lujan, the inmate most critically injured in the July 2004, riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, filed suit today against the operators of the private prison, the Corrections Corporation of America. Lujan, who claims he warned prison officials on numerous occasions that his life was in danger because prison gang members had labeled him a snitch, was severely beaten, thrown off a second floor prison tier, repeatedly stabbed and left for dead by rampaging inmates. Lujan denied he was ever a snitch. He said the gang turned on him when he renounced his gang affiliation. The Denver lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of CCA and violations of his civil rights. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said he had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. Lawyers Bill Trine and George Nichols, who represent Lujan, said Lujan was able to break a cell window before roving gang members broke into the cell. He screamed for help to prison officials who could see him and directed a spotlight on him. Although they could see Lujan, they made no effort to rescue him, the lawyers said. After the July 20, 2004, riot broke out, Lujan, then 32, called one of his sisters and asked her to call police. "He said a riot was going on and all the guards were so scared they went on the roof," he told the sister. "The prisoners had already taken control. He was scared." The sister, who asked that her name not be used, told The Denver Post that Lujan told her: "If anything happens to me, tell everybody I love them." Lujan suffered a skull fracture, a broken nose, more than half a dozen stab wounds to his chest and shoulders, and a severe laceration to his left wrist, among many injuries. Once he was found by guards, he was airlifted to a Pueblo hospital where he was placed on a ventilator for acute respiratory failure. He was in the hospital for about 10 days. He was paroled on his drug charge sentence within weeks of his release from the hospital and has not received proper medical attention, the lawyers claimed today. They said that both CCA and the Colorado Department of Corrections deny they are responsible for paying for any further medical treatment which his lawyers say Lujan desperately needs.

November 12, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
The nation's largest private prison operator has agreed to state-mandated reforms at its four Colorado prisons 14 months after a riot tore through its Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. Corrections Corp. of America, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., signed new contracts with the Colorado Department of Corrections in September that address a host of problems uncovered in the wake of a riot by some 300 inmates on July 20, 2004. Similar contract requirements and state oversight also will apply to two other non-CCA private prisons in Brush and Colorado Springs to ensure consistency. Those prisons house more than 500 inmates. The new contract requires increased staffing levels at CCA facilities, better staff training and emergency preparedness, increased medical and mental health services for inmates, improved food standards, and state takeover of inmate financial accounts. While some of those issues were not considered direct causes of the 2004 riot, all have been cited as trouble spots that may have fed the discontent that finally erupted into violence and destruction at the Crowley County facility. During the riot, inmates ransacked two cellhouses and prison offices, destroyed furniture, smashed doors and windows, and set dozens of fires, one of which burned down the prison greenhouse. Two inmates were seriously injured and several received minor injuries. The Department of Corrections found afterward that the Crowley prison had only 33 uniformed officers supervising 1,122 inmates and that some officers had been on the job two days or less. When inmates began damaging property, the small force of officers withdrew from the yard and cellhouses, and the riot quickly grew. Staff size and training were central concerns in the DOC report issued two months after the riot. But a Legislative Audit Committee report last April found other unequal conditions between state and private prisons that could breed future riots. But the staffing shortage seen as a major problem in the Crowley riot remains a difficult problem for CCA. The company has agreed to maintain staff sizes closer to those at comparable state-run medium-security prisons and to train officers to state standards. But a gap remains between the salaries of state and private prison staff members that has led to high employee turnover. The state's post-riot report found the average monthly salary for private prison officers was about two-thirds that of state officers. CCA has raised salaries every year despite decreases in Colorado's compensation rate since 2003 because of state budget cuts, Owen said. He did not disclose current CCA salaries. "It is a challenge in trying to make salaries competitive with what is paid by the state," Owen said.

November 9, 2005 La Junta Tribune Democrat
The subject of Prisons is one that tends to make people nervous just on general principles. However, Crowley County Correctional Facility is doing its part to show that not everything people hear about prisons is necessarily true. It's been nearly a year-and-a-half since a prison riot shook up the Crowley County Correctional Facility in July of 2004. Since that time operational changes have been made at the facility to ensure nothing like that happens again. Those changes are continuing as the facility prepares to add staff as outlined at the quarterly open house on Nov. 2. However, the facility is still having a hard time finding qualified correctional officers to fill its staff, which seems strange since the unemployment rate in Crowley County is a fairly high 8.5 percent, and the correctional facility offers a "Pretty good pay scale plus benefits" according to Crowley County Financial Officer Mike Apker. The county is planning to hold a job fair in the near future to try and recruit some more staff.

October 13, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The Colorado Department of Corrections has dramatically improved its oversight of private prisons in the state, prisons officials told lawmakers last week. In giving the Legislative Audit Committee an update on changes it has made in how it manages the state's five private prisons, DOC director of prison operations Nolin Renfrow told lawmakers that all is well. That audit he was referring to was a scathing report released in June that criticized the department for being lax in its oversight of private prisons and ignoring problems with them for years. Prompted by a riot at the Crowley County Correction Facility in Olney Springs last year, the audit said DOC knew or should have known about numerous problems concerning the operations of the prisons but did little to nothing to correct them. The state audit said the department diverted DOC workers whose job was to monitor private prisons to other duties, and failed to enforce operations rules and regulations. And in those instances when the department's private prison monitoring units did discover problems, the department failed to follow up to ensure that corrections were made, the audit said. Four of those facilities are operated by the same Nashville-based company, Corrections Corporation of American. In additional to the Crowley County facility, CCA also operates private prisons in Bent, Huerfano and Kit Carson counties. A fifth private facility that houses female inmates is located in Brush. It is owned by the Brentwood, Tenn.-based GRW Corporation.

October 7, 2005 The Gazette
Private prisons in Colorado could face cash penalties for failing to meet minimum safety standards under new contracts negotiated by the Department of Corrections in the wake of a stinging audit. In June, an audit of Colorado's private prisons, which house about 2,800 of Colorado's 18,000 prisoners, found numerous problems, including inadequate staffing levels, unlicensed medical clinics, employees with criminal backgrounds and poor food services. Thursday, corrections officials gave state lawmakers an update on their response to the audit. For instance, private prisons will be fined if staffing levels do not meet minimum standards or if the meals they feed prisoners are not up to par. "I'm not sure the liquidated damages have enough hammer to them," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. Corrections officials said they need time to see if the new penalty system works.

September 9, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
An inmate who pleaded guilty to participating in last July’s riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility was ordered Tuesday to pay $50,000 restitution. Reuben Sustatia, 22, who also was charged with attempted first-degree murder in the riot, pleaded guilty in June to participating in the uprising that resulted in severe damage to the facility. Public defender Ray Torrez said Wednesday that he agreed to the $50,000 levy because Sustatia faced even more severe penalties. Rudy Lujan, a Colorado inmate who was beaten and stabbed 14 times during the riot, identified Sustatia as one of his assailants because of Sustatia’s distinctive devil horn tattoos. Lujan, 32, told authorities that approximately eight inmates assaulted him during the riot, but that he initially could only identify Sustatia because of his tattoos.

August 25, 2005 Westword
Slow burn: The 2004 Crowley riot caused extensive fire damage. When all hell broke loose last year at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, a private prison on Colorado's eastern plains, Vance Adams stayed very, very quiet. From his cell door, Adams could see prisoners armed with weight bars running in and out of his unit, smashing windows, busting up plumbing, setting fires and raiding offices and vending machines. "They looked like they were having a good time," Adams says. "But I wasn't." After a confrontation in the yard on July 20, 2004, the understaffed guards evacuated quickly, leaving the inmates free to rampage for hours, causing millions of dollars' worth of damage. Adams, serving a five-year sentence on drug and escape charges, soaked some towels to try to block smoke and tear gas from his cell. Prison and state Special Operations Response Teams (SORT) arrived in the unit around midnight and ordered everyone to put their hands on their heads and crawl backward, face down. When Adams tried to sign the orders to his cellmate, who is deaf, the officers became more belligerent, he says. "I screamed back at them, 'My roommate is deaf!'" he recalls. "They calmed down a little bit, but I guess I wasn't crawling fast enough." Adams says he was tightly cuffed, dragged by his ankles through the water flooding the unit, hauled outside and thrown on the grass of the prison ball field, where he remained until mid-morning. Older prisoners around him were passing out; others cried out for medical attention after being sprayed with birdshot, pepper gas or rubber bullets. "When the SORT officers cuffed me, they broke my wrist," reads the affidavit of inmate Terry Borrowdale. "They left me cuffed with a fractured wrist for four to five hours, until I was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Pueblo.... When I told the SORT officers that I am almost sixty years old and had no part in the riot, one officer answered, 'This is what you all deserve for what you have done.'" Bad as the riot was, many prisoners say they suffered greater injuries from the aftermath of the disturbance, as officers from the Colorado Department of Corrections and Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison operator, regained control. A group of more than eighty inmates is filing a lawsuit against CCA this week, claiming the company let conditions deteriorate before the riot, then brutalized men who didn't participate in the uprising. Prisoners claim they were assaulted by officers, shot (with live ammo, in at least one case) while fleeing burning buildings or trying to surrender, denied medical treatment, forced to strip in front of female staff and denied showers for up to a week after the incident. Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a Washington-based public-interest group, has joined Boulder attorney Bill Trine in representing the inmates. The attorneys have obtained thousands of pages of the state's investigation of the riot and are seeking access to videotapes made by staff. "There's absolutely no question about what happened during the riot," Trine says, "and there's a lot pointing the finger at CCA. They had to get the riot under control, but what they did afterward was to punish everybody, whether they were involved in the riot or not." The Colorado DOC's after-action report on the riot blasted CCA management for ignoring state inspectors' recommendations before the riot, for inadequate staff training and for pitiful emergency-response procedures. The report noted that SORT teams fired hundreds of rounds of buckshot, birdshot and rubber bullets -- as well as slugs, smoke grenades, "stingballs" and pepper-spray canisters -- but concluded that "reasonable force was used" to regain control of the prison. But since that report was released, the DOC has also come under fire from state auditors for failing to adequately monitor the private prison. As first reported in Westword last year, visits by DOC monitors were often shorter than required and suffered from a lack of followup on critical issues such as poor food, skimpy portions, chronic staff turnover and abysmal inmate morale ("Going Off," December 23, 2004). Investigative files obtained by the prisoners' attorneys indicate that DOC and CCA staff received more warnings from inmates of an upcoming disturbance than previously acknowledged. One counselor told investigators that several staff members had turned in reports on the matter but "the administration seemed more concerned about who the [source] was than about the information on a potential riot." At the time of the riot, Crowley held 1,122 inmates, including some from Washington and Wyoming as well as Colorado, but had only 47 employees on duty. Although the riot was triggered by an alleged misuse of force on a Washington inmate, investigators found that inmates had a wide array of grievances, from the disparity in treatment of inmates from different states to rotten food. Investigators sampled the food in the dining hall and "found it to be of very poor quality and distasteful." After the riot, prisoners say, they were kicked and struck by guards while cuffed, dragged face-down through vomit or feces-tainted water, and threatened with more violence. An inmate named Arnold Wyrick claims he was denied access to a bathroom, had to defecate in his pants, and was forced to wear the soiled clothing for eight hours while guards called him "Mr. Shitty Pants" and asked, "Does the little baby need a diaper?" The investigative files also indicate that some prisoners performed heroically during the riot. Inmates in one honor pod repelled rioters who tried to enter their house and manned a bucket brigade to put out fires. Afterward, they were shoved into overcrowded cells with no mattresses or shipped off to more restrictive prisons or county jails. The prison was locked down for nearly a month after the riot. Recently paroled inmates say that conditions at Crowley are no better than before, and possibly worse, with limited access to recreation and to the DOC's monitors. "I rarely saw a monitor around," says Adams, who's now in a Denver halfway house. "They'd have us cleaning the place a day before any inspection." Inmate Oscar Barron, who left Crowley last spring and is now on parole on a robbery charge, says staff training is still a sore point. "They've got guys right out of high school and old ladies," he says. "Come on. Are they going to protect you if something happens?" The DOC did not respond to questions about its officers' alleged mistreatment of handcuffed inmates. CCA spokesman Steve Owen hadn't seen a copy of the complaint and declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit. "CCA will aggressively defend the complaint," he says. "Beyond that, we believe the most appropriate venue to respond is through proper court filings rather than by way of public comment."
Adele Kimmel, staff attorney for Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, says her group became involved in the case because of a lack of "significant reform" in the way CCA manages its four prisons in southeastern Colorado. "We think the lawsuit is the best mechanism for holding CCA accountable and preventing future riots," she says.

August 25, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
Vance Adams had been worried for weeks that something was going to happen at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, the privately run prison where he was incarcerated, and on the night of July 20, 2004, those fears were realized when fellow inmates went wild. First he saw prisoners smashing glass inside the prison. Then he looked out the window of his cell and saw flames - one of several blazes lit that night by rioting inmates. "We were scared," he said. "We didn't know what to do." But as frightened as he was of marauding inmates, the treatment he and other prisoners endured at the hands of guards was similarly stressful, he said Wednesday. Those guards, he alleged, dragged him and another prisoner out of their cell by their ankles, cinched their wrists tightly with plastic bands, left them for hours with no water, and told them to urinate in their pants when they asked to use a restroom. Adams is among 86 current and former inmates of the Crowley County Correctional Facility in southeast Colorado who have sued its operator, Corrections Corp. of America. The inmates allege negligence on the part of prison staff leading up to the riot, use of excessive force during and after the violent outbreak, and inhumane treatment of prisoners who had nothing to do with the fracas. Bill Trine, a Boulder attorney representing the inmates, repeatedly charged Corrections Corp. of America with ignoring warnings in the days leading up to the riot. For example, he said, the transfer of 198 inmates from Washington state to Crowley County heightened tensions. He said that happened, in part, because the out-of-state prisoners resented the corresponding loss of privileges. Also contributing was resentment among Colorado prisoners who were paid substantially less for the work they did - $18.60 a month vs. $60 a month for Washington prisoners. Trine also made public documents compiled by the state's Office of Inspector General that showed prison officials were warned in the days before the riot that trouble was likely. Among the documents was a report from an addiction counselor who said she had been alerted by inmates that tensions had escalated and that "people were going to get hurt." The counselor filed a report with a superior and later told investigators that others also had alerted prison staff "with information from inmates who told them that there was going to be a riot." Those warnings, Trine said, were ignored. "The net result," he said, "was the riot did occur."

August 24, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
Two former state prisoners this morning described an out-of-control scene last year where inmates who had nothing to do with a prison riot were indiscriminately abused in the hours afterward. "We were scared," Vance Adams said in recalling the night of July 20, 2004, when hundreds of inmates smashed windows and furniture and set fires at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in southern Colorado. Adams is among a group of 86 current or former prisoners suing the operators of the private prison in the wake of the riot. The inmates alleged the prison's operator, Corrections Corp. of America, ignored brewing trouble in the days before the riot, shot at them as they tried to seek help once the trouble started, dragged them through raw sewage, broken glass and blood, and forced them to eat nothing but bologna sandwiches for a month. A blistering report compiled last fall by the Colorado Department of Corrections found that the prison's spartan staff was too inexperienced and undertrained to control the inmates. The night of the riot, the prison had a uniformed staff of 33 officers for its 1,122 inmates. The lawsuit alleges that the prison staff ignored repeated warnings that unrest was escalating among the inmate population, caused in part by the transfer of 198 inmates to the Crowley County Correctional Facility from Washington. Others alleged they were handcuffed and dragged through feces, blood, water and broken glass to the prison yard, where they were left facedown for hours. There, they were left without water, were forced to urinate and defecate in their pants, and were denied clean clothes and showers. Trine said the inmates are prevented from filing suit in federal court because they did not exhaust all their options under the prison's grievance procedure — in large part because many of them were in "lockdown" for 30 days after the riot and were therefore prevented from filing a formal complaint.

August 23, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice of Washington, D.C., will assist in representing 86 inmates who were injured as a result of a riot that rocked the prison last year. The lawsuit charges Corrections Corp. of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator and owner of CCCF, with negligence that sparked the riot and outrageous and inhumane treatment of prisoners who did not join in the riot. William A. Trine of Boulder’s Trine & Metcalf law firm, lead counsel in the case, and TLPJ staff attorney Adele P. Kimmel, co-counsel, will meet with former Crowley prison inmates, who claim that they did not join in the riot, to speak about the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that CCA employees forced tightly bound inmates to urinate and defecate in their clothing; dragged handcuffed inmates from their cells face down through glass shards and raw sewage; withheld drinking water and medications; denied shower privileges and clean clothes for more than a week; and forced inmates to strip and shower in front of female guards. Last October, the Colorado Department of Corrections sent a blistering, 179-page riot report to Gov. Bill Owens stating that prison administrators should have known about problems that led to the riot. The report also showed that the 1,130-inmate facility, one of five privately run prisons in the state, lacked state-required equipment, failed to follow DOC regulations at times, had insufficiently trained guards and no adequate plan to deal with crisis situations. "The after-action report focused on events leading up to the riot, but there are also official state documents that we will be making available on Wednesday. These documents will reveal what happened after the riot," said Jonathan Hutson, TLPJ communications director. More than one-third of the prison's inmates joined in the 5 hour riot. Rudy Lujan, a Colorado inmate, was beaten and stabbed 14 times during the riot. Kimmel did not say if he was one of the 86 inmates involved with the lawsuit. So far, only one inmate has pleaded guilty to participating in the riot. He was sentenced in June to eight more years in prison with a mandatory five-year parole.

June 23, 2005 Lajunta Tribune Democrat
Reuben Sustaita was just months from the end of his prison sentence being served in Crowley County Correctional Facility for second degree vehicular theft and criminal attempt to escape when he took part in the July 21, 2004 riot. The riot on July 21, 2004 at the correction facility forced the relocation of some inmates and more than 100 inmates facing additional time in prison for the incident. Sustaita is the first conviction involving the riot that heavily damaged four units at the prison during the five-hour uprising that went into the early hours of the next day. Sustaita could add another eight years to his original sentence after pleading guilty Tuesday to one count of riots in a detention facility, a class three felony.  Sustaita is the first, but probably will not be the last, Crowley County Correctional Facility inmate to have additional time added to his sentence. At the time of the riot, he prison held 1,125 prisoners - 807 of which were from Colorado. In addition to the 807, there were 198 prisoners from the state of Washington and 120 from the state of Wyoming. CCCF is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also owns and operates a prison in Las Animas.  Another challenge will be deciding which inmates to bring back to Colorado to face charges if they have been sent elsewhere. The cost of transporting and housing, the inmates during trial will come at the cost of state taxpayers.

 June 5, 2005 Seattle Times
Up to 300 Washington inmates soon will fly out on the "chain plane" to rented prison cells across the country in a strategy to ease overcrowding. The inmates are expected to be shipped out to one of the 64 facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest private jailer. The Nashville, Tenn.-based company is already holding 290 Washington inmates and has a mixed track record. Last year, Washington inmates at a CCA-run facility in Colorado started the largest prison riot in that state's history. They were promptly shipped to the company's prison in Appleton, Minn. In May 2003, Washington shipped about 100 inmates to the Nevada state prisons, and added 140 more by that summer. A year later, Washington turned to CCA. The state sent a handful of staff along with the inmates to act as contract monitors. When those staff salaries and travel are included, Washington pays a per-offender rate of $62 per day. A similar group of in-state inmates would cost about $55 per day, according to a DOC budget analysis. The "rented-beds" program has gotten scant attention, even after the riot in Colorado. State Rep. Jeannie Darneille, vice chairwoman of the House corrections committee, said separating parents like Velvett Jones from her son is bad policy, and that the inmates being sent are the best behaved, sending a bad message to those left behind. But her biggest objection is the issue of control. "I just don't have a lot of trust for the privately run prisons," said Darneille, D-Tacoma. "It is done without public knowledge or debate. We give up our control to a privately run institution that sets parameters." Last July 20, just after dinner, dozens of inmates from Washington and Wyoming gathered in the yard of the CCA-run prison in Onley Springs, Colo., demanding to see the warden with a list of grievances. Within a half-hour, the jail was in chaos. In the end, it took hundreds of officers nearly a full day to quell the riot. More than a dozen inmates were injured. Damage was estimated at $1 million. A post-riot investigation by the Colorado Department of Corrections faulted CCA for understaffing and poorly training staff, and for building a prison with materials, such as porcelain sinks, which could be used as weapons. Eight Washington inmates face criminal charges from the riot.

June 3, 2005 The Denver Channel
Seventeen people have been indicted in a massive operation that may be responsible for dozens of stolen cars and more than 100 cases of fraud and theft around the metro area, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said Friday. The theft ring was cracked in October when deputies arrested two women on charges of aggravated auto theft. Authorities say Tracey Richardson and Sallena Nichols would walk into auto dealerships and purchase expensive cars using fraudulent identities and credit information. The cars then were taken to a chop shop where they were dismantled for equipment and parts, police said. The suspects face 163 criminal charges including aggravated motor vehicle theft, fraud, forgery, criminal impersonation, and computer crimes. Three suspects also face the most serious charge of racketeering. The State Department of Corrections say this group also introduced drugs into the Crowley County Correctional Facility, with the help of a prison staff member.

June 3, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Prosecutors have filed the first charge against an inmate in connection with a July riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility. District Attorney Rod Fouracre said Thursday that Reuben Sustatia, an inmate from Colorado, is being charged with attempted second-degree murder in the July 20 riot. More than a third of the prison's 1,125 inmates joined in the uprising that caused significant damage to at least two of the facility's five housing units. Inmates set three fires, damaged several living units and destroyed the vocational greenhouse at the facility. The rioters smashed furniture, destroyed desks and bunks, ripped sinks and toilets from the walls, destroyed television sets and set off fire alarms and sprinklers that drenched the interior of the buildings. One inmate was stabbed and assaulted during the riot. He was identified as Coloradan Rudy Lujan, 32.

February 18, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
A company that operated the prison at Olney Springs has settled yet another lawsuit in which a female guard alleged she was the victim of outrageous conduct by her male superiors. Filings in U.S. District Court show that Dominion Correctional Services and Mandy Bravo recently settled her lawsuit, which also alleged retaliation and gender discrimination. Last summer, the company and three other former female guards settled those guards' lawsuits that alleged managers at the prison repeatedly engaged in sexual misconduct, including rape, against female employees. Last fall, a federal agency alleged in a lawsuit that a former chief of prison security forced a female subordinate to engage in sexual activities with him. When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit, a Dominion spokeswoman said the company had fired him when it learned of his misconduct. The allegations in each of those three sets of lawsuits involved the same time period, 2001 and 2002. Dominion, of Edmond, Okla., operated the prison, the Crowley County Correctional Facility, until January 2003 when Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America bought it. The 1,200-bed prison houses inmates under contracts with states. Bravo listed her address as Pueblo West when she filed her lawsuit in October, two months after the settlement of the lawsuits of the three other former guards. Those three guards sought more than $10 million total as damages. In her lawsuit, Bravo said she sought treatment at Parkview Medical Center because an investigator for the prison injured her hand in an alleged altercation in his office in September 2002. She said she filed a police report about the incident. Bravo alleged she was subjected to "severe and pervasive" offensive remarks from male superiors from the time she was hired in June 2001 until she was fired in October 2002. She said she was retaliated against because she repeatedly complained about the way she was treated. The altercation with the investigator allegedly occurred when she questioned him why nothing had been done about her complaints. In a court filing, Dominion claimed it fired Bravo because she refused to return to work after the altercation although prison officials tried to facilitate her return. Bravo claimed when she returned to work a superior told her to go home and she was fired later in the day. The company said Bravo, in meetings with managers immediately after the altercation, did not complain of an injury. Dominion also said she had been insubordinate on another occasion and that her allegations of retaliation were unsupported. In her lawsuit, Bravo sought unspecified monetary damages, back pay of more than $40,000 and unspecified losses due to losing her fringe benefits. Bravo's lawyer, Charlotte Sweeney of Denver, and Dominion official Carolyn Burgess each said separately they cannot comment on the settlement because it contains a confidentiality agreement. Bravo could not be reached for comment.  

November 10, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
In outlining his spending plan for the next fiscal year, the governor told a newly minted legislative Joint Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, that while the state's economy is slowly improving, it needs some help to get back on track. Additionally, the governor is recommending that the Department of Corrections' budget increase about $21 million this year. That 3.8 percent increase would go to such things as five new inspectors in the DOC Inspector General's office to watch over private prisons, and two additional workers for the DOC private prison monitoring unit, which audits private prisons to see if they are complying with state prison regulations.
The increase is part of the governor's response to July's inmate riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, one of five private prisons in the state.

October 13, 2004 Rocky Mountain News
The staff of the privately operated Crowley County Correctional Facility was severely undermanned and too undertrained and inexperienced to control inmates on the evening of July 20, when hundreds erupted into a nightlong riot. So said the state Department of Corrections in a searing report Tuesday on the prison in Olney Springs, owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America with a contract to house inmates from Colorado and other states.  The prison had a uniformed staff of only 33 officers for its 1,122 inmates on the evening of the riot, a ratio of 34 inmates per officer. That compares with a ratio of five inmates per officer in Colorado's state-operated prisons. Corrections Corporation of America has not released a damage estimate for the prison, which it owns and must repair with its own funds. Repairs have not been completed and 30 percent of the prison remains closed. CCA must also reimburse the state $385,000 for the prison system's Special Operations Response Team and other state personnel and expenses in quelling the riot. Not even basic prison operational procedures were maintained at the prison, the report charged. The prison had failed to satisfy state prison officials' demands to create an emergency plan or maintain an emergency response team, the report stated. On the night of the riot, the prison was "not fully staffed," and some of its staff had been "on the job for two days or less."
Once the riot erupted, chaos reigned. Prison supervisors reported that the entire staff was accounted for, although two corrections officers were trapped inside the prison and sought safety in a segregation cell. The female librarian was stranded in the library with 37 inmates, who did not join the riot. A private prison corrections officer's pay is about two-thirds that of state prison officers - $1,818 per month, compared with $2,774 per month, and staff turnover is about twice the rate as in state prisons. CCA has told the state it maintains an approximately 8-to-1 inmate to corrections officer ratio, but it was far off that staffing strength on July 20. CONCLUSIONS • Turnover: High staff turnover and inexperience hampered response to emergencies. • Staff: Prison was not fully staffed at the time of the riot, and some employees had been on the job only two days or less. • Response: Prison staff's response to the initial incident was indecisive and failed to comply with orders from a state Department of Corrections official. • Drills: Emergency drills were rarely conducted. Prison staff failed to maintain a recommended percentage of emergency response team members. • Prisoners: Prison staff did not respond to inmate grievances in a timely manner. • Security: Fundamental security measures were not consistently followed.

October 13, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
Administrators of the privately run Crowley County Correctional Facility knew or should have known about potential problems that led to a July 20 inmate riot, a new report revealed Tuesday. The Colorado Department of Corrections report on the riot said the 1,130-inmate facility, one of five private prisons in the state, lacked state-required equipment, failed to follow DOC regulations at times, had insufficiently trained guards and no adequate plan to deal with crisis situations. The 179-page report to Gov. Bill Owens revealed that: Prison management failed to comply with deficiencies and recommendations that DOC inspectors told them about before the riot. High staff attrition and inexperience contributed to a lack of ability to respond to emergencies. The prison failed to adhere to DOC-mandated menus. Fundamental security measures were not consistently followed. Construction materials used to build cells were too easily destroyed. The prison's initial response to the riot was indecisive. The report noted that the riot, which left scores injured but no deaths, was sparked by a number of factors, at least one of which was not the fault of the prison operators. Because the prison housed inmates from other states - Wyoming and Washington - there was a disparity in the monthly wage out-of-state inmates earned over Colorado prisoners.
" Buying power is strongest, therefore, among Washington and Wyoming inmates," according to the report, written by DOC prisons director Nolin Renfrow, legislative liaison Cherri Greco and prisons operations manager Anna Cooper. Additionally, in the six months before the riot, DOC inspectors - known as the private prison monitoring unit - cited numerous issues with the prison operators, including food preparation programs, accuracy and timeliness of reports and inadequate tracking of security threat intelligence. At one point during the riot, Renfrow ordered the prison to use chemical agents to disperse the inmates, but the prison delayed doing so because it was seeking approval from its corporate headquarters in Nashville. The report also revealed that the prison's level of emergency preparedness was lacking in several areas: It wasn't fully staffed. Some employees had been on staff for two days or less when the riot broke out. Because it had not developed an emergency preparedness plan to DOC standards, some prison guards and managers were unsure what to do. It rarely conducted riot drills. When one was conducted, a staff member unaware that a drill was under way "drew a weapon" on an inmate, the report said. "The prison riot of July 20 at the Crowley County Correctional Facility began with a disturbance which, in retrospect, was not responded to as quickly and efficiently as possible, thus developing into a riot. Some dynamics among the inmate population, perception that inmate complaints were not being heard, and use of force by CCCF staff likely all contributed to the onset of the incident."

October 1, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
A former chief of security at the prison in Olney Springs was terminated after being investigated for sexual misconduct, his former employer said Thursday. "We did everything we possibly could when they (two female employees) brought us the information," said Carolyn Burgess, human resources director of Dominion Correctional Services. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday alleged that a former chief of security at the state prison forced a female sergeant to engage in telephone sex and oral sex with him. He also allegedly subjected another female sergeant to "offensive, gender-based harassment." The EEOC's action in federal court also accused Dominion of failing to respond to an Aug. 3 subpoena as part of the EEOC's investigation of the women's complaints.

September 30, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
A federal agency alleged Wednesday that a high-ranking employee of a company that operated a private prison in Olney Springs forced a female subordinate to engage in sexual activities with him. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made the allegation in a federal court action in Denver against Dominion Correctional Services of Edmond, Okla. The company last summer settled lawsuits with three other women employees of the same prison who alleged prison managers repeatedly engaged in sexual misconduct, including rape, against them.
The prison's chief of security forced a female sergeant to engage in telephone sex and oral sex beginning in 2002 "under threat of losing her position," the EEOC alleged. Wednesday's court action alleges that the company has failed to respond to an EEOC subpoena issued as part of its investigation of complaints by the two latest women. The EEOC is seeking a court order to compel Dominion to provide information sought in the subpoena. The earlier lawsuits also pertained to alleged misconduct in 2001 and 2002. A former guard claimed a chief of security, Ronald McCall, raped her; and another former guard alleged that he frequently propositioned her.

September 22, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
Part of the problem in managing rioting inmates at a private prison in Crowley County in July was that the facility had a 45 percent turnover rate in employees, state corrections officials told lawmakers Tuesday. A day after a Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman told The Pueblo Chieftain that DOC doesn't routinely track employment matters at private prisons, the DOC's director of prisons, Nolin Renfrow, told the legislative Joint Budget Committee that one of the things under investigation is the prison's high turnover rate.
DOC wants to know if that high rate contributed to the riot among 500 inmates July 20 at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs, which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America. "We know that it was 45 percent at this particular facility," Renfrow told the six-member panel that requested a review of DOC's investigation of the riot. "Over the past few years, we have monitored their turnover as a whole. I think ours is around 8 to 10 percent. I think they have averaged 20 to 25 percent turnover in the past few years across CCA (in the state)." At one point before he arrived at the Crowley prison, Renfrow said he ordered staff workers to spray crowd-controlling chemicals into the main yard where many prisoners were rioting. "The word we received back (after giving the order) was that CCA was trying to get authorization to do that from their headquarters," Renfrow said. "Over the next two to three hours, I continued to repeat my orders as I was driving to the facility from Colorado Springs. Eventually, when our staff arrived, we did do that and the inmates were brought under control." "The (high turnover rate) generally means that tenured staff is generally low, and when tenured staff is very low, sometimes they have difficulties dealing with situations that are not typical of everyday operations." He said CCA's policy in dealing with riots is to "stand down and wait" for DOC officials to arrive to handle it. "I'm really concerned with what the counties are going to have to do with private prisons, what's expected of them and whether or not they really know what they're getting into when they get into a private prison situation," said Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, who sat in on the briefing. "I know that (DOC) has the ability to get a team together to react to a violent situation. Shouldn't private prisons have that same capability to control their own facility?" Renfrow agreed, saying one of the recommendations he expects to make to the governor is to ensure that private prison guards are better trained and equipped to handle riots.

September 21, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado Department of Corrections officials don't routinely keep records of staffing levels, turnover rates or salary information for private prisons housing state inmates, says DOC spokeswoman Alison Morgan. The staffing issues were raised following a July 20 inmate riot at Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs, where 400 to 500 prisoners held control at the prison for five hours, until DOC and law officers from several local and state agencies used tear gas and rubber pellets to regain control of the medium-security prison run by Corrections Corp. of America. Following the riot, The Pueblo Chieftain questioned Morgan about the private prison's staffing ratio, number of uniformed staffers on duty when the riot began and salary ranges for CCA employees. Morgan replied: a.. CCA's uniformed staff-to-inmate ratio was 1 to 7.9, while DOC's average staff-to-inmate ratio is 1 to 4.7.  b.. CCA had 33 uniformed staffers on duty when the riot began and the prison housed 1,125 inmates at the time. c.. A Crowley County correctional officer's pay averages $1,818 per month plus benefits. d.. DOC's monthly beginning correctional salary is $2,774, plus state benefits; (no average was given). Morgan provided the information to The Chieftain on July 23. But when private prison critic Ken Kopczynski of the Private Corrections Institute Inc., asked Morgan in August for the same information, along with some backup information such as shift logs, Morgan told Kopczynski that DOC did not have information on the staffing levels at the time of the riot, annual turnover rates or average salary ranges. Staff longevity was raised, according to Kopczynski, because one female Crowley employee stated on television that she was working in the central control center despite being on the job for only two days. Morgan, asked Monday about the discrepancy in her responses to Kopczynski and The Chieftain on staffing issues, said she obtained responses for The Chieftain in July from CCA, but added that DOC does not routinely keep staffing or other information on the Crowley prison as part of its ongoing monitoring of CCA. The reason, she said, is that DOC's contract with CCA requires the company only to maintain sufficient staffing; no specifics are spelled out.

August 8, 2004
As inmates at Crowley County Correctional Facility grew restless and agitated in the exercise yard on the evening of July 20, officers of the private company charged with managing the prison withdrew to regroup. "They ran," said inmate Robert Horn, serving five years for passing bad checks. "They just abandoned the place."  All but one.  As a peaceful protest devolved into arson and riot over five hours, prison librarian Linda Lyons kept sole watch over 37 male inmates. Although she radioed her location, her supervisors from the private Corrections Corporation of America made no move to retrieve her. They then failed to notify an elite anti-riot team from the Department of Corrections that she had been left behind.  While up to 500 inmates in a prison full of 1,100 killers, rapists, thieves and drug dealers brought their riot within one building of the library, Lyons was never harmed. She said the men with her talked, played chess and stayed clear of the melee while she maintained a calm demeanor.  "Showing fear would have upset the inmates," Lyons said.  A Department of Corrections review of Colorado's most destructive inmate uprising has found that the official response was dogged by slow decision-making and a lack of communication. A senior department official said CCA officials failed to respond promptly and with enough force, ignored an offer to negotiate, then left the librarian behind as they retreated to safe positions.  Beyond the questions about the response, inmates and a corrections officer from CCA say the company's managers had also failed to heed weeks of warnings about growing inmate unrest.  That unrest - over such typical inmate complaints as poor food, inequitable treatment of prisoners and a lack of access to prison officials - blossomed into a riot after corrections officers disciplined one unruly inmate. Officials with CCA, which manages the Crowley County prison through a contract with the department, dispute much of the department's criticisms. They insist they mounted an organized response to the rebellion, deployed chemical agents promptly and never ignored inmate grievances or a request that night to see the warden. On the contrary, said spokesman Steve Owen, company officials tried to negotiate an end to the uprising before the riot but were forced to withdraw as inmates grew increasingly angry.  "If there are things we didn't do right, we're going to own up to it," Owen said. "We're going to fix all that."  The company has already placed one Crowley County captain on administrative leave because his statements about the riot were "very inconsistent," Owen said Saturday.  "There is a concern about the truthfulness of his statement," he said. The department's investigation is not yet complete, but interviews with inmates, department officials and a guard at the prison provide an outline of the events that nearly killed one inmate and left the prison smoldering and partly uninhabitable.  Inmate allegedly beaten In the weeks before the riot, about 200 inmates from Washington state had been moved to Crowley County as CCA sought to maximize profits by filling every bed. At 10 a.m. the day of the riot, one of the Washington inmates refused to go to work, according to the department's director of prisons, Nolin Renfrow.  When the inmate struggled with an officer taking him to a disciplinary unit, several officers jerked the inmate to the ground, said inmate Fredrick Morris, 47, who is serving a life sentence for murder. Horn also witnessed the inmate's treatment.  "These other guards started pummeling him and kicking him," Horn said. "We'd just had enough, you know? To treat someone like an animal is not going to fly anymore."  CCA and the department are both investigating the complaint about the alleged beating of the inmate, whose name was not released. The department's inspector general says a videotape of the incident does not appear to show excessive force. But neither the department nor CCA has reached a conclusion on whether the corrections officer went too far.  Inmates thought he did. The boiling point  CCA is a Tennessee-based for-profit corporation with contracts to manage prisons and jails across the United States, including four here. Colorado pays the company $49 per inmate per day and requires the company to comply with all state and federal rules for inmate care.  The company and its supporters say they can profit from incarceration by employing efficient techniques lost on state bureaucracies.  Inmates at Crowley County said that quest for profit went too far at the prison.  Morris, who had worked as a cook at the prison, said he quit his job of three years because of the facility's poor food preparation practices. Staff were ordered to grind hot dogs for spaghetti sauce, use muffin mix in meatloaf, combine instant potatoes with pinto beans for burritos and put pork in soup intended for Jewish inmates, Morris said.  He said he complained about the practices to a CCA supervisor in March but nothing happened.  "The food has gotten worse," Morris said.  CCA officials said they had received no formal grievances about the food. The most recent inspection by the department, on June 29, found that the food served to inmates at Crowley County was considered "good" by department standards in nearly every category.  In volunteer prison surveys for the department, Crowley County inmates in October rated food they received to be lower in quality across the board than prisoners at department prisons.  But Owen said CCA by contract serves the exact same menus as the department.  Prisoners have not filed any grievances about food quality, he said.  Inmates had a variety of other complaints against Crowley County.  Colorado inmates were upset that they were paid only 60 cents a day for doing the same work as inmates transferred to the prison from Washington a week earlier. Washington pays inmates $3 per day for work, and CCA is bound by contract to follow Washington policies when keeping that state's inmates, Owen said. Colorado lets CCA pay local inmates less.  All of that boiled over July 20. A Crowley County correctional officer said inmates had been talking for weeks about an uprising.  "I was told about it," said the officer, whose name is being withheld. "They said it wasn't going to be more than two months, at the most. It wasn't even that long. I was told this by several different inmates."  "They took off running" On the night of July 20, correctional officers opened a gate connecting the east recreational yard with the west about 7 p.m. so inmates could play softball in the west yard.  Instead of a handful, hundreds streamed into the west yard, said inmate Terry Poole, serving life for kidnapping.  Several Washington inmates asked correctional officers to speak with Warden Brent Crouse about their grievances, Renfrow said.  Crowley County security chief Richard Selman said he never heard about the requests. Owen, the CCA spokesman, said the company's investigation has determined that an inmate asked to speak with a "supervisor" - not the warden.  After the request was relayed to supervisors, a shift captain was unable to locate the inmate who made the request, Owen said. At that point, the captain became concerned for the safety of the prison staff and they withdrew from the yard - effectively relinquishing control to the inmates.  "They took off running, and they left the female employees behind," said William Morris, another Crowley County Correctional Facility inmate.  CCA reported the prisoner rebellion to department officials, and Renfrow said he urged CCA to immediately use chemical agents to push inmates away from the living units and put down the uprising.  But, Renfrow said, CCA officials told department monitors that they needed approval from their Nashville headquarters before deploying tear gas.  CCA spokesman Owen says the company's officers did not need approval from Nashville and did respond promptly. In a written response to questions, he said "chemical agents had already been disbursed by facility staff at approximately 8:20 p.m." That would be before Renfrow said he asked for its use.  Regardless of when the first gas was used, it came much later than inmates expected and gave ringleaders an opportunity to organize real mayhem.  "If they would have just went back, sat on the towers and shot tear gas from up there, there probably would have been less of a riot," William Morris said. "Everybody would have went home. They would have dispersed."  Librarian kept her cool As inmates began setting the prison facilities ablaze, librarian Lyons, 56, ordered the men in the library back to their cells. They implored her not to force them out into the yard, where other inmates were clearly gearing up for a fight.  Before long, fires were burning in front of each living unit and the greenhouse was burning. In the yard, scores of inmates used filing cabinets and doors as shields as they approached officers.  They barricaded doors with soda machines they lit on fire. Unbreakable windows were blown out, and inmates were using shards of glass as shanks. The amount of damage still has not been calculated, but it may approach $1 million.  Renfrow said he asked CCA if all employees had made it safely out of the prisoner-controlled grounds. He said he was mistakenly told they had.  If he had known Lyons was still in harm's way, he said, he would have immediately ordered officers to get her. Inmates broke into the shop next to the library, said Nathan Walter, commander of the department's Special Operations Response Team, or SORT.  Still, Lyons, a second-year CCA employee, didn't fret, and she said she is not upset with CCA for failing to dispatch a team to rescue her. In her mind, she didn't need rescuing.  "I felt safe where I was," she said.  It was 10 p.m. before the SORT team had moved in to retake the first of the dorms. Outnumbered by dozens of prisoners to each one, SORT members used rubber pellets and "triple chaser" tear gas bundles that separated and exploded to push back inmates who were hurling rocks, sticks, furniture and flaming Molotov cocktails.  In the aftermath, they learned that while Lyons was unharmed, a group of as many as 15 inmates had gone on the prowl in the prison to attack sex offenders and men suspected of being snitches. The man hurt worst during the riot, burglar Rudy Lujan, was attacked by a mob of maybe 15 inmates who believed he had snitched on inmates to the guards, Horn said. They beat him, stabbed him, threw him over the railing of the second-floor tier of cells and tossed a microwave oven onto his limp frame.  He was hospitalized in critical condition, and officials have not offered an update since.  The prison can be repaired, but if CCA's policies don't change, it will happen again, Horn predicted.  "Those people (in Olney Springs) need to understand that this is going to occur over and over again," he said. "The population in that area is seriously lucky. At any point, (the inmates) could have just turned to that fence and mowed that fence down. Imagine five or six hundred crazed individuals running into Olney Springs."  (Denver Post)

August 4, 2004
Family members of inmate Rudy Lujan sat around his mother's dinning room table recently, looking at pictures from his childhood and worrying about his well-being now.  Oh, the stories Juliana Lujan has about her 32-year-old son who was beaten nearly to death after a riot broke out two weeks ago at the Crowley County Correctional Facility east of Pueblo. Rudy Lujan of Greeley is still hospitalized from the injuries. His parole hearing is today.  Lujan was stabbed, beaten with a cinder block and forced to jump from the second floor by a gang of men on July 20 when inmates rioted, torched and broke pipelines that flooded the prison.  Juliana said in the past year her son has repeatedly asked for protection, but no one took the convicted felon seriously. He told his family that he had been jumped, "cheap-shotted" from behind and threatened several times.  He was at an undisclosed hospital in Pueblo where guards watched over him as he recovered from a coma, a bruised body, blackened eyes, stiff neck, several stab wounds and carnage torn from his arm by the cinder block beating. It took him nearly dying to be taken seriously, Juliana said. Lujan was recently moved to an infirmary, she said.  (Greeley Tribune)

July 30, 2004
More than two dozen Airway Heights inmates currently housed at a Colorado corrections facility will remain there until the Washington State Department of Corrections completes its investigation into last week's riot. Criteria for selecting inmates to send out of state include time left to serve, health issues, behavior and how often they are visited by relatives. Ultimately though, the private out-of-state prisons get to choose which inmates it wants to bring in.  (KXLY News 4)

July 29, 2004
For more than two hours, Tammera Bravo's son, an inmate at Crowley Correctional Facility, delivered "minute-by-minute terror" over the phone as prisoners smashed their surroundings.  "He said, 'It's on Mom. Those prisoners from Washington are refusing to come out of the yard.' " Washington inmates at the private prison in Olney Springs, about 80 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, had reached a boiling point because of their recent transfer and because they didn't like their new cells, Bravo said.  Five and a half hours later, it was over. All in all, as many as 400 of the prison's more than 1,100 inmates had been involved. Two of five cellblocks were trashed, at least one control room had been breached, fires had burned, and 13 inmates were injured.  Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Tallahassee, Fla.-based Private Corrections Institute -- which has been extremely critical of privatized prisons -- said the transfers hurt inmates' ties to family and friends. Many families, he said, are too poor to afford regular visits and inmates are left with little to look forward to and no life outside prison walls.  Kopczynski says it was no coincidence that, a day after the Crowley County prison incident, 28 Colorado inmates rebelled at a CCA private prison in Tutwiler, Miss., setting fire to mattresses and clothing.  "You're importing inmates from Washington and Wyoming to Colorado, and then you're shipping Colorado inmates off to Mississippi," Kopczynski said. "Does anyone see the irony here?"  In 2002, former state Sen. Penfield Tate, as he had in years prior, introduced unsuccessful legislation that would have prevented Colorado inmates from being transferred out of state. Tate became worried after incidents occurred in the 1990s similar to the one in Crowley County.  "We've seen a history of it," Tate said.  At CCA-owned private prisons, the guard-to-inmate ratios are far lower than at state-operated Department of Corrections facilities. The state's average ratio is one guard for less than five inmates, while the for-profit CCA averages one guard for nearly eight inmates. Morgan said the vast difference in ratios is justified because the state tends to deal with more difficult inmates.  However, critics like Kopczynski note that salaries for private prison guards tend to be much lower. At the Crowley County prison, guards make an average of $1,818 a month, compared to state guard salaries that start at $2,774 a month.  Because private prisons tend to pay guards less, companies grapple with higher turnover, meaning fewer experienced guards are available to handle complex inmate issues, Kopczynski said. Some guards, he said, don't last long enough to complete their training, which can take months. Others stay just a few years, he added.  (Colorado Springs Independent)

July 29, 2004
The state Department of Corrections will accept no more out-of-state prisoners at Colorado's four private prisons while an investigation unravels the cause of a riot at one of them, an agency spokeswoman said Tuesday.  (Rocky Mountain News)

July 28, 2004
State Sen. Ken Kester on Tuesday defended the private operators of Crowley County Correctional Facility, rocked by a riot last week.  Kester, R-Las Animas, questioned statements made by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, in the wake of a riot that caused major damage to the prison, and praised Corrections Corp. of America, which operates Crowley and three other private prisons in the state.  The day following the riot, McFadyen told The Pueblo Chieftain her attempts to require the state to reveal the actual state cost of housing prisoners at private prisons was rejected during the latest term of the Legislature.  She said that on three different occasions, she asked for a breakdown of the cost - not just the per diem rate paid to private prisons, but also cost for medical care for inmates, transportation, escapes, riot control, case management and some training of private prison staff, which the state pays.  "I am not trying to be belligerent. I am just trying to assess the information in a format that can be compared side-by-side with the state numbers. If that information is available it has not been made available to me," McFadyen said.  Kester defended private prisons, saying that they save the state an estimated $50 million in construction costs per private prison, and it also costs taxpayers less to maintain inmates in private prisons.  Kester, who was a Bent County commissioner when the county negotiated a deal with CCA for the Bent County Correctional Facility, said that the Bent County prison has been helpful to the community.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

July 27, 2004
A riot that injured more than a dozen inmates and caused millions of dollars in damage to a prison run by a Tennessee company last week prompted the state to temporarily stop accepting out-of-state inmates, an official says.  (AP)

July 25, 2004
Staffing and pay at the Crowley County private prison, where inmates rioted Tuesday night, is roughly half of that at state prisons, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Friday.  The DOC's Alison Morgan worked with the Crowley prison owner, Corrections Corp. of America, to produce the statement in response to questions submitted by The Pueblo Chieftain.  CCA's uniformed staff-to-inmate ratio is 1-7.9. DOC's average staff-to-inmate ratio is 4.7-1. She noted that DOC's ratio is affected by the needs in DOC's high-custody facilities and special-needs inmates.  CCA has based its salaries on the Crowley County area's prevailing wages. The range for a correctional officer at Crowley County is $1,557 to $2,335 a year, with an average of $1,818 per month plus benefits. DOC's beginning salary for a correctional officer is $2,774 per month, plus state benefits. No average figure was stated.  Colorado, like most states, participates in the Federal Interstate Compact Agreement that provides for the exchange of inmates between states. "For example, if DOC has an inmate that cannot be incarcerated in a Colorado facility, we can transfer that inmate to an accepting state. We then must accept an inmate from that state in exchange." It was not clear whether DOC reviews the backgrounds of prisoners before they're accepted into the state's private prisons.  Crowley County had 33 uniformed staffers on duty when the riot began Tuesday night. The prison housed 1,125 inmates, according to DOC officials.  There have been reports that Crowley staffers feared there would be strife with the arrival of Washington state inmates. Ninety-nine Washington inmates arrived on July 2; another 99 on July 9.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

July 25, 2004
Details of a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement between an Edmond company that once operated a Colorado private prison and three women who used to work there aren't being released.  The women, former guards, filed the federal lawsuit seeking more than $10 million from Dominion Correctional Services and three managers.  The former guards alleged that female employees were coerced numerous times in 2001 and 2002 into sexual activity by male managers who condoned sexual misconduct among workers.  Former guard Lucilla Gigliotti alleged that she became pregnant after the prison's former chief of security, Ronald McCall, went to her home and raped her.  McCall, in court filings, denied he sexually assaulted her and denied he "engaged in any conduct which violated the constitutional rights" of Gigliotti and the other two women, Pamela Johnson and Lt. Jennifer Stalder.  McCall had been forced from a previous job at the Colorado Department of Corrections because "he had an extensive history of engaging in sexual discrimination and harassment," the three women alleged.  Johnson alleged a guard raped her at the prison despite her having previously pleaded with Vigil not to assign the guard and her to the same work area.  (AP)

July 23, 2004
A man who suffered the worst injuries during Tuesday's riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility called his sister after fires broke out, saying he feared for his life and that she should call police.   Rudy Lujan, 32, who is serving time for burglary and drug charges, had to shout because the commotion in the private prison was so loud, said his sister, who would give only her first name, Bonnie, citing fear of retaliation.  "He said a riot was going on, and all the guards were so scared they went on the roof," she said. "The prisoners had already taken control. He was scared. He told me, 'If anything happens to me, tell everybody I love them."'  A prison official called Lujan's family in Greeley on Wednesday to tell them that he had been hospitalized with multiple stab wounds, said his other sister, Debbie Segura. On Thursday, prison officials reported that Lujan was breathing on his own and was in serious but stable condition, according to the family.  Lujan had been having problems with gang members in the private prison in Olney Springs, his family said. He had told them stories of being jumped from behind and "cheap-shotted" more than once.  His family believes Lujan had been refusing gang members' attempts to recruit him.  (Denver Post)

July 23, 2004
Prison officials at the Crowley County Correctional Facility foresee a complex repair project after the prison was rocked by a riot Tuesday night.  The prison is one of four in the state owned and operated by Corrections Corp. of America. At least one-third of its 1,147 inmates rioted Tuesday and two of the five housing units were rendered uninhabitable.  Inmates set three fires, damaged three other living units and destroyed the vocational greenhouse.  They also smashed furniture and televisions, destroyed desks and bunks, ripped sinks and toilets from the walls and intentionally triggered fire alarms to drench everything in the buildings.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

July 23, 2004
Inmates at the Crowley County prison began telling their families as long as a month ago that tensions at the facility were high and that an uprising was imminent, two parents said Thursday.  One Denver mother said her son told her that in early June word began to spread that the Crowley County Correctional Facility was going to accept prisoners from Washington state. When the imported inmates began arriving about three weeks ago, several inmates began complaining to the guards, she said.  Colorado inmates complained that some of the out-of-state prisoners were being mixed in with them, which was creating a lot of tension, she said. Residents and officials from nearby Olney Springs said guards who visit the town's businesses or live in the community had told them in recent weeks that they expected violence at the prison.  (Rocky Mountain News)

July 23, 2004
Although state lawmakers have carried out four audits of state prison programs since 1999, they have never audited the private company in charge of the southern Colorado prison engulfed by a riot Tuesday.  The Crowley County prison that erupted in flames is run by Corrections Corporation of America. A state senator said Thursday the state might want to take a closer look at its finances.  "We can follow the state's money and audit that," said Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, a longtime audit committee member. "Perhaps we should do more along that line. We have looked at the bank accounts for the prisoners that are held in the private prisons, but we have never audited security there."  No one could estimate the damage from Tuesday's melee, but state officials insisted those costs would be borne by CCA.  The state also intends to bill the company for its costs in rushing more than 100 correctional officers and other help to the scene to help quell the uprising, as well as the expense of the investigation - a cost that could run as high as $150,000.  And at a news conference in Pueblo, Frank Smith of the anti- private prison group Private Corrections Institute said that "Olney Springs came apart at the seams, and it was no big surprise."  Smith, along with Brian Dawe, executive director of Corrections U.S.A., a nonprofit group that represents the nation's public corrections officers, said private prisons do not protect the public.  "This isn't about public safety for the private prisons, it's about the money," Dawe said.  Smith said he talked to some of the corrections officers at Crowley and they expressed concerns about understaffing, low pay and inadequate training. Dawe said private prison guards receive 30 percent less training than those at federal facilities.  Smith said he was also told that Colorado prisoners might have started the riot because they were not happy about what they considered special treatment that prisoners from Washington state were receiving.  Dawe, a former prison guard, said moving inmates out of state and away from their families is bad for the prison and the public. "I guess Colorado doesn't have enough problems, so they need to import some more," he said.  (Rocky Mountain News)

July 22, 2004
After an inmate's being denied a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich helped sparked a riot at the medium-security Crowley County Correctional Facility in 1999, state prison officials concluded that guards at the private prison had not been properly trained.  John Suthers, head of the Colorado Department of Corrections at the time, later vowed that the state's future contracts with private prisons would emphasize "proper training." Five years later, after another riot at the prison - now run by a different company, Corrections Corp. of America - some critics are raising the training issue again, though DOC officials say they don't believe it's a problem. "The people that they're getting employed there - people who have never been in law enforcement, people who have never been in corrections - they put them through a training period that they say is effective, but it's not," former Crowley County correctional officer Jennifer Stalder said Wednesday. "You're dealing with felons, and they don't play."  Stalder recently settled a wrongful-termination suit against Dominion Correctional Services, which ran the prison before CCA. Stalder never worked for CCA, but she has friends and relatives who work there who have told her the training programs have not changed, she said.  And though some wondered Wednesday if state budget cuts could have led to Tuesday's riot, that is unlikely, said Republican Rep. Brad Young of Lamar, chairman of the legislature's Joint Budget Committee.  But Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo, said she's concerned that privately run prisons aren't cheaper than state-run prisons. She points out that the costs for medical care, transportation, clothing, case management, escapes and riot control all fall back on state and local government.  (Denver Post)

July 22, 2004
State Department of Corrections officials said Wednesday that Tuesday's Crowley County prison riot began with 100 to 150 inmates refusing to return from a recreational yard to their housing unit.  As a result of damage from the uprising, more than half the inmates have been moved elsewhere.  The Olney Springs prison is privately operated by Corrections Corp. of America, but state employees of the DOC and officers from several area sheriffs' departments helped bring the riot under control about five hours after it began.  DOC officials said the investigation of the cause of the riot is ongoing. Department spokeswoman Allison Morgan said, "one factor may be gang-related," but Executive Director Joe Ortiz said later, "We have no special information that this is gang-related."  Morgan said the riot began at 7:30 p.m., turning into a scene of mayhem as inmates used weight-lifting equipment to tear up housing units. They started three fires, leaving two of the prison's five housing units uninhabitable from fire and water damage and another unit damaged. Other property was damaged or destroyed, and there were a few instances of inmates attacking one another.  CCA staffers retreated until the DOC special operations team and emergency response teams from five state prisons arrived. Backup officers from Pueblo, Fowler, Rocky Ford and the Colorado State Patrol also were sent to assist with the crisis. DOC will put a moratorium on transferring out-of-state inmates into Crowley County for now.  (The Pueblo Chieftain)

July 22, 2004
A Colorado lawmaker whose district includes eight state-run prisons said Wednesday the riot at the private Crowley County facility raises critical questions about the safety and cost-effectiveness of private prisons. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said she was alarmed when she first got word of the rioting and the possibility that inmates and guards might have been seriously hurt or killed.  She intends to press her colleagues during the 2005 session to take a much closer look at the state's contracts with private prisons.  She had raised the alarm on the House floor this year during a debate over a bill pushed by legislative budget writers that would make it easier to seek competitive proposals from private prison providers.  "It's not just the cost," she said. "My concern also is for the safety of the general public, as well as the people working in, and even those confined in, these facilities.  "This is the second riot at the same facility since 1999. These prisons are built in rural areas, where there is little law enforcement to help out. They may not have sufficient manpower themselves, and they may be poorly trained and equipped."  But Rep. Brad Young, R-Lamar, chairman of the legislature's budget-writing committee, noted that prisons - both state and private - are dangerous places. He said he wants to see a full report on what happened.  "It sounds like a full-scale riot broke out really fast," Young said. "You do everything you can to prevent that kind of thing. It doesn't mean they weren't doing a good job."  Young said constructing prisons is "a huge cost" and added that with the economic downturn that occurred a little more than two years ago, "the state couldn't afford to keep up with the inmate population increases we've seen."  "There definitely is some economy for doing it through the private sector," he said.
But McFadyen said she hoped what occurred would help bring a better awareness of the true cost to the state and local governments where private prisons are located.  "As a state legislator, I have frequently questioned the hard cost of contracting with private prisons," she said. "No one can give me an exact amount. The question is, are we risking the safety of the public and is it really cheaper? We must have answers to those questions."  (Rocky Mountain News)

July 22, 2004
State prison officials sifted through a stunning swath of destruction at the Crowley County Correctional Facility on Wednesday, still uncertain what caused an overnight riot by more than 400 inmates.  Officials on Wednesday discounted reports that the riot was a "turf war" between Colorado inmates and 190 prisoners who arrived from Washington state about three weeks ago.  But guards had privately confided to townspeople since the Washington transfer that they feared something was brewing.  The Washington inmates were angry over their transfer more than 1,000 miles away from their families.  Whatever problem had been smoldering inside the privately operated prison 40 miles east of Pueblo erupted violently about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.  More than one-third of the prison's 1,147 inmates joined in the 51/2-hour riot.  They set at least three fires, smashed everything in two of the prison's five living units, damaged its three other living units, and resisted more than 150 guards using tear gas and rubber bullets to quell the outbreak.  Thirteen inmates were injured. One suffered multiple stab wounds in one of two inmate-on-inmate assaults. Four inmates remained hospitalized Tuesday, none with life-threatening injuries, said Department of Corrections Director Joe Ortiz.  None of the prison staff was injured.  On Wednesday, the inmates were being held under 24-hour lockdown in cells and improvised holding areas throughout the prison.  At the height of the riot, inmates set fires in two cell houses and the vocational greenhouse, and proceeded to tear them apart, throwing and smashing furniture, destroying desks and bunks, ripping sinks and toilets from the walls, splintering television sets and setting off fire alarms to drench everything in the buildings.  Some inmates used steel weights and dumbbells from the exercise yard to smash doors and windows, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan.  "Living Unit 2 is not habitable. Living Unit 1 is not as severe, but it is destroyed," Morgan said.  The destruction ruined 600 inmate cells, leaving prison officials to find other places to house them. About 300 were being moved to a newly completed housing unit at the prison, but 300 were being transferred Wednesday to other state prisons.  (Rocky Mountain News)

July 21, 2004
Inmates at a nearby private prison rioted Tuesday, prompting law enforcement agencies from around Southern Colorado to mobilize in an effort to quell the uprising.  Crowley County Commissioner Matt Heimerich told The Pueblo Chieftain that local sheriff's department responded to the medium security Crowley County Correctional Facility at about 8 p.m. with every available officer from its force of nine people, along with all three ambulances in Crowley County.  By 10 p.m. the rioting apparently had escalated and reached a threshold of serious concern, as the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department's SORT team and up to 20 members of the SWAT team from the Pueblo Police Department were deployed to join in suppressing the situation. The Fowler Police Department, Otero County Sheriff's Department, Rocky Ford Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol also joined the effort.  Witnesses said smoke billowed from three separate locations in the prison - one in the yard and two inside structures - and the smell of tear gas was thick. Multiple witnesses also reported hearing gunshots from inside the prison walls.  A female guard toting a rifle was stationed at the main entrance to the prison and turned away several curious onlookers from the surrounding rural area. Heimerich said he had been told the riot was being driven by inmates from the state of Washington, who were recently transferred to the prison in Olney Springs. The prison recently contracted to retain between 150 and 200 inmates from Washington.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

July 21, 2004
At least 100 inmates rioted Tuesday evening and set small fires inside the walls of a privately run prison in Crowley County. Scores of law-enforcement officials from all over the state raced to Olney Springs to help quell the disturbance.  The inmates rioted in the yard and in some portions of the interior of the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs, Allison Morgan, Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said early this morning. Morgan said she did not know where in the prison the fires were set.  (Rocky Mountain news)

July 11, 2003
Three former Crowley County Prison guards are suing the private companies that operate the prison, claiming they were coerced into having sex with managers and that sexual misconduct was rampant among employees and inmates.  In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, one of the three female guards alleged that a high-ranking male official of the Crowley County Correctional Facility came to her Pueblo home and forced her to have sex.  The lawsuit alleges that man had been fired by the Colorado Department of Corrections for sexual harassment.  Another of the three women claimed she was raped at the prison by a guard.  Female employees who resisted sexual advances by male managers were punished with undesirable assignments, hostile and demeaning verbal attacks, sexual assault and unwarranted discipline, the lawsuit said.  Named as defendants are several businesses including Dominion Correctional Services that own and operate the private prison and three current or former top officials.  It claimed that Warden Steve Hargett, security chief Ronald McCall and security official Julian Vigil hired female staff based on "attractiveness, whether she might be 'easy to get to bed,' or whether she might be easily manipulated."  (AP)

February 8, 2002
Even before the January opening of a new 480-bed state prison in Trinidad, Colo., and a 127-bed detention facility in Akron, Colo., the four private, for-profit prisons in the state had 724 empty beds. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in Burlington, Walsenburg and Las Animas, Colo., had a total of 575 empty prison beds.   Additionally, the private prison at Olney Springs, Colo., had 149 empty beds. CCA acknowledged it has lost revenue because of the vacant beds.  Last January, the private prisons had nearly 1,900 empty beds after the state transferred inmates to its new 2,447-bed facility at Sterling, Colo. It is state policy to keep as many state prisoners as possible in state prisons, rather than private ones.  (Corrections Professional)

November 23, 2000
Officers from several state prisons had to suppress a riot at the prison in March 1999.  Inmates flooded floors, smashed doors and windows and tried to set fires, and prison staff responded with gas and rubber bullets.  Two people received minor injuries. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, November 23, 2000)

July 2000
A guard is arrested as he left the facility after he allegedly showed up in a uniform shirt with badge and holstered sidearm and ordered a wedding party on private property to turn down its music. (Denver Post, July 27, 2000)

Denver Community Corrections Facility
Denver, Colorado
Misc

February 18, 2005 Denver Post
A private corrections officer was charged Thursday with having sexual contact with an inmate at a community corrections facility in Denver. Melanie Ochoa, 32, was arrested Feb. 5 and faces a felony count of sexual conduct in a penal institution. Prosecutors allege that Ochoa had sexual contact with a 31-year-old male inmate while supervising the man at the private corrections facility.

El Paso County Jail
El Paso County, Colorado
Correctional Medical Services/Aramark
August 11, 2005 Colorado Springs Independent
Deputies at the El Paso County jail are in a food fight of sorts and giving inmates the bird. A Sheriff's Office press release of Aug. 3, defending the jail's meals in the wake of a brief hunger strike by inmates, is the latest development in what has become a jail food saga. The release says that on July 30 inmates were served turkey for a fifth consecutive meal, despite protests, and it promises more turkey is to come. The episode comes as the Sheriff's Office faces numerous internal complaints and at least 10 lawsuits filed by disgruntled inmates over jail food. One suit, filed by former inmate Mark Compton, describes the jail fare as substandard. He alleges that each meal was cut back by 25 percent as of March, and that some inmates have reacted by eating scraps from the trash, begging or intimidating fellow inmates for food. Yet complaint forms attached to Compton's lawsuit raise doubts about food quality. Inmate Darius Pinkney wrote that some peaches served in June were "four different colors (i.e. black, green, red and orange). "Some were mushy, some were rock hard," he wrote. "They were in my opinion not fit for human consumption." Other inmates complained about the peaches, too, but were instructed by a deputy not to consume them. "In your handbook, it states to eat around anything not to your liking," the deputy wrote in the official complaint form. Michael Holmes, another inmate, accuses Sheriff Terry Maketa of standing idly by as the jail's food contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, shirks its responsibilities by serving "unhealthy disease causing garbage." Former inmate Mark Compton claims portion sizes at the El Paso County jail were cut by 25 percent per meal.

July 18, 2005 The Gazette
Spoiled milk, rotten fruit and watered-down soup that tastes like dishwater.  Those are some of the items on recent menus at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center, according to inmates who are suing the jail, Sheriff Terry Maketa and the jail’s food-service contractor, Aramark Corp.  Nineteen inmates have filed separate lawsuits since June, claiming the sheriff and jail are violating a state law that requires jails to provide “good and sufficient” food to prisoners.  Since mid-March, food portions and quality have decreased to 25 percent of what they were, according to the inmates’ suits filed in 4th Judicial District Court. Inmates claim they’ve been ignored or harassed when they complained to jail officials about the food.  Some of the suits say Aramark, Maketa and the jail are “endangering the health and safety of approximately 1,300 seemingly innocent prisoners at this facility three times daily, seven days a week.”  Inmates are being forced to eat scraps out of trash cans or beg for other inmates’ food, the suits say. Stronger inmates have resorted to taking food from weaker ones, according to the suits.

February 14, 2002
Last week, El Paso County commissioners dumped the company that has, for the past 13 years, provided medical and mental health services to the county's two jails. You'll recall that the Criminal Justice Center and downtown's overcrowded Metro facility carry the dubious distinction of logging nine inmate deaths since 1998. In November, the county's longtime jailhouse health provider, St. Louis based Correctional Medical Services (CMS), submitted a bid to continue its contract. The upshot is that the commissioners accepted a $1.9 million low bid from Englewood, Colo. based Correctional Health Care Management to provide medical services to the jails. During the commissioners meeting, both the elected officials and county staff only delicately approached the, uh, unfortunate problems of the past, which have resulted in wrongful death lawsuits against the county and tax-paid settlements to the families of the dead inmates. Current Undersheriff Terry Maketa was on hand to warmly welcome Correctional Health Care Management aboard. Maketa specifically noted that the new company has promised that at least one nurse who is trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLF) will be scheduled during every shift, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A subsequent Independent review of the county's most current jailhouse contract for health services shows that the old company, CMS, also promised at least one ACLS-trained nurse would be available at all times at the jail. Which begs a couple of questions: If Maketa and the county commissioners are so relieved to have trained 24-hour cardiac emergency nurses, why didn't they know that their current contract already required such staffing? And, did CMS violate the terms of its contract by not providing such nurses at the county's jails? Four days after the new health care contract was approved, the Sheriff's Office announced a new committee to review policies and procedures related to mental health issues at its jails. And why the county signed the contract first and asked for citizen input after the fact is one of those great mysteries of life. The sheriff's 14-member detention review panel includes representatives from the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, the Adams and El Paso County Sheriff's Offices, as well as Colorado Springs City Councilman and cardiologist Dr. Ted Eastburn and other local professionals. Unfortunately, the press was barred from attending their inaugural meeting on Monday night. Let's hope that doesn't set the standard for a decision-making body engaged in what should be a serious -- and very public -- review of jailhouse health-care policies. (CSIndy: Public Eye)

Extraditions International Inc.
Colorado
March 17, 2003
A female inmate who claimed she was sexually assaulted and threatened during a prison transfer has settled a lawsuit against a transport company and one of its guards.  The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Robin Darbyshire, said Friday that the terms of the settlement would not be released.  The suit claimed Darbyshire, 41, was sexually assaulted and harassed by two male officers and male prisoners during a trip in May 2001 from Nevada to Colorado.  The suit named Colorado-based Extraditions International, Inc., which transports prisoners between states.  An after-hours call to Extraditions was not immediately returned.  The lawsuit alleged that one of the officers sexually harassed Darbyshire and another female prisoner and forced Darbyshire to perform a sexual act in a rest stop near Trinidad. Darbyshire said the officer threatened to shoot her if she screamed.  The ACLU also claimed the two officers allowed few bathroom stops, didn't give the prisoners enough water and food, and violated state laws requiring stops every 24 hours so inmates can be unshackled and allowed to sleep and shower.  (AP)

April 12, 2002
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Thursday on behalf of a female inmate who claimed she was sexually assaulted and threatened during a four-day prison transfer.  The national and Colorado ACLU are suing Colorado-based Defendant Extraditions International Inc., a private company which transports prisoners between states.  The ACLU claims a 41-year-old female prisoner was sexually assaulted and harassed by two male officers and male prisoners during a trip in May 2001 from Nevada to Colorado.  One of the officers sexually harassed the prisoner and forced her to perform a sexual act in a rest stop near Trinidad, according to the lawsuit.  The prisoner said the officer threatened to shoot her if she screamed.  The ACLU also claims that during the four-day trip, the two officers allowed few bathroom stops, didn't give the prisoners enough water and food and violated state laws requiring stops every 24 hours so inmates can be unshackled and allowed to sleep and shower.  The prisoner's constitutional rights were violated and she is seeking unspecified damages, the lawsuit said.  An employee who answered the phone at a number listed under Extraditions International in Commerce City said the company was bought and is now called American Extraditions.  The lawsuit is an attempt to highlight abuses in an industry that operates out of the public view, said Craig Cowie, a lawyer with the ACLU's National Prison Project in Washington, D.C.  "We are investigating other incidents and we expect to file additional lawsuits in the coming weeks and months," Cowie said.  The Colorado ACLU branch settled a lawsuit in the past two weeks with TransCor of Nashville, Tenn., over similar allegations, ACLU officials said.  (Rocky Mountain News)

February 18, 2002
Robin Darbyshire is the first to admit that she hasn't led an exemplary life.  What she didn't expect was a five-day journey into squalor aboard a van operated by a Colorado-based private extradition company. According to Darbyshire, the trip included large doses of physical privation, humiliation, threats and harassment, culminating in a sexual assault by one of the two male drivers escorting her back to Routt County.  "I was shocked at what he did to me," Darbyshire says. "What happened was a crime, and he's not going to get away with it if I can help it."   Darbyshire's claims of mistreatment by a former employee of Extraditions International has prompted investigations by law-enforcement agencies in Colorado and New Mexico and drawn the attention of the ACLU's National Prison Project, which now counts Darbyshire as a client in any potential civil litigation.  As with so many other aspects of corrections, the private sector has found a profitable niche in transporting prisoners.  (Westword)

High Plains Correctional Facility
Brush, Colorado
Cornell Companies

June 29, 2010 Brush News-Tribune
High Plains Correctional Facility will close down after the state takes the remaining inmates away from the Brush prison today. Most of the employees at High Plains Correctional Facility will lose their jobs after the state removes the last remaining inmates from the Brush women’s prison today. “We have already notified our staffs that most of them unfortunately have to be laid off for now,” said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Houston, Texas-based Cornell Companies, Inc., which owns the Brush prison. The local facility normally employs 83 people, Seigel said, but management has left about half of the positions vacant in anticipation of the closure. “In the last few months we haven’t filled positions, knowing this was going to happen,” he said. Three of the roughly 40 current employees will remain on staff to maintain the facility and prepare for any potential new business, but the rest of the workers will lose their jobs, Seigel said. Cornell has offered to transfer some of the employees to company facilities in other areas, he said. At least 10 of the employees have accepted jobs at a Cornell prison in Hudson, but workers are reluctant to take jobs any farther away. “We’re still working on trying to find positions as much as possible for people,” he said. The closure of the facility will also result in a loss of revenue for the city of Brush, said city Finance Officer Joanne Gosselink. The city will lose roughly $22,000 in annual income it received for processing the prison’s payments from the state, she said. In addition, the city will no longer receive revenue from sales tax on purchases made by the inmates, she said.

April 8, 2010 Brush News-Tribune
Due to a decline in the number of female prisoners throughout Colorado, the state might remove inmates from High Plains Correctional Facility in Brush this summer. “The state has talked about the fact that they may not need the facility now, that they may not need the capacity that High Plains provides,” said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Houston, Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc., which owns the Brush prison. The medium-security prison can house up to 272 female inmates, who are placed at the facility through a contract with the Colorado Department of Corrections. The prison had a total inmate population of 252 in February 2009 and 218 in February 2010, according to the CDOC. In an attempt to keep the Brush prison operational, Cornell is now working with corrections officials in Colorado and several other states to identify alternate ways to use the facility. Seigel said the local prison might have the opportunity to replace any departing inmates with prisoners from other states, which is allowed in Colorado. He said he did not know whether the local facility could be converted into a prison for men. “We’re not sure yet what the future holds,” he said. “There are different options and different ways this may work out.”

High Plains Youth Academy
Brush, Colorado
Cornerstone Programs Corporation

July 29, 2007 Dallas Morning News
Executives of the Colorado-based Cornerstone Programs Corp., which manages the Garza County Regional Juvenile Center in West Texas, have a history of involvement in troubled juvenile facilities in other states. Cornerstone closed its Swan Valley Youth Academy in 2006 after a Montana State Department of Public Health and Human Services investigation found 19 violations, including neglect and failure to report child abuse and an attempted suicide. "Intake process was particularly harmful to youth, and many have been made to vomit due to excessive exercise and drinking large amounts of water," Montana officials wrote in their findings. According to Montana officials, the state and Cornerstone had developed a corrective plan to keep the facility open. "There was a number of charges of abuse filed against the director of the program and the second in charge," said Cornerstone chief executive Joseph Newman. The bad press hurt business and so it closed, he said. Mr. Newman said state officials later cleared them of all the abuse charges, but Montana officials said they had no record of that. In Texas, Cornerstone's Garza facility has been put under corrective action plans to improve staff training, documenting grievances and group therapy sessions. But the company has hired a new director and added new staff to Garza, which it began managing in 2003. In 2005, a 17-year-old inmate at the facility became paralyzed after falling on his head in an attempt to do a back flip off a table. A lawsuit by his family against the facility, settled in 2006, alleged that a guard not only failed to prevent the stunt, but challenged the youth to attempt it. The officer was fired after the incident. The Garza County facility consistently has received positive reviews by the Texas Youth Commission. "The Garza County Regional Juvenile Center is an exemplary program," a TYC monitor wrote in the facility's 2006 contract renewal evaluation – the same year Swan Valley closed. Cornerstone was founded in October 1998 by Mr. Newman and board chairman Jane O'Shaughnessy, about six months after another company they operated ran into trouble in Colorado. That other company, called Rebound, operated the High Plains Youth Center in Brush, Colo., which housed juvenile offenders from around the country. In December 1995, a University of Illinois at Chicago psychologist hired by the state's Department of Children and Family Services issued a damning report on High Plains, and the agency later began removing its youth from the juvenile prison. "Unit staffing practices appear to be a numbers game where management attempts to balance the competing pressures of safety and profit," wrote Dr. Ronald Davidson, a faculty member in the university's psychiatry department. The facility also had a "consistent and disturbing pattern of violence, sexual abuse, clinical malpractice and administrative incompetence at every level of the program." A Human Rights Watch report later found that High Plains "fell short of reasonable, even minimal, performance." Colorado officials closed High Plains in 1998 after a 13-year-old inmate from Utah committed suicide and a state investigation found widespread problems with physical and sexual abuse. State officials also had uncovered problems at other Rebound facilities in Colorado. Rebound's nonprofit Adventures in Change program did not meet requirements to be licensed for drug and alcohol treatment nor meet "acceptable standards for habitation," according to a 1996 state audit. Auditors said the services, such as education, family counseling, vocational training and employment, "are not routinely provided." In his resignation letter as the facility's clinical coordinator, Paul Schmitz wrote: "This is no longer a professional treatment environment ... and is not supported by the company as such." In 1997, Florida officials severed the state's contract with Rebound to operate the Cypress Creek juvenile detention facility after repeated problems, including reports of disturbances that led to the arrests of several inmates for inciting a riot. Rebound also had operated in Maryland, where it ran the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School briefly in the early 1990s. Mr. Newman was the deputy secretary of Maryland's Department of Juvenile Services from 1992 to 1994, according to the state. He joined Rebound in 1995. The Hickey contract ended in 1993 after dozens of escapes, cases of alleged abuse and other policy violations. Dr. Davidson, the Illinois psychologist, said the past performance of Cornerstone and Rebound should raise concerns. "Anyone who had bothered to check the record of this corporation in Colorado and Florida and Maryland ..... would have easily discovered a troubling history of incompetence and fecklessness," he said.

Hudson Correctional Facility
Hudson, Colorado
GEO Group (bought Cornell Companies)
April 10, 2013 AP

Alaskan prisoners housed in the Hudson Correctional Facility in northeast Colorado are heading home to new quarters after a temporary stay while a new jail was being built. The move to a new Alaskan prison in September could leave 1,200 empty prison beds empty and 200 jobs lost in a region of Colorado starved for jobs. According to the Greeley Tribune, the GEO Group, a private company that runs the four-year-old medium security prison, could be left without any customers. So far, there is no word on any further contracts with other states, including Colorado’s Department of Corrections. The 1,250-bed correctional center was built in 2009 by Cornell Companies, but later was taken over by the GEO Group, which runs private prisons throughout the world.

August 23, 2011 Greeley Tribune
A former corrections officer at a privately run prison in Hudson is under investigation for allegations that she had sex with an inmate. Amber Gunter, 26, of Brighton, said she never had sex with the inmate, a convicted murderer from Anchorage, Alaska. Instead, she told The Tribune, she’s the victim of an ex-roommate’s revenge. Gunter worked as a corrections officer for a year and two months at the Hudson Correctional Facility, a 1,250-bed prison in southern Weld County. The prison has contracted with the state of Alaska to house 850 prisoners. Gunter resigned in June after the allegations came forth. The Weld District Attorney’s Office filed one felony charge of unlawful sexual conduct in a correctional institution against Gunter earlier this month. The charge alleges she engaged in sexual conduct and sexual penetration, but no further information was released. If convicted, she could face at most one to three years in prison. Gunter, in a telephone interview this week, said the inmate, Barry Anderson, 35, was in charge of cleaning a specific area, where she would have contact with him occasionally. “At first I didn’t think anything about it, I was just listening to him and letting him vent, and it led to like closer (contact), and it led to what it led to,” Gunter said. “Like he would touch me, or whatever, but there was no sex involved.” From April until her resignation in June, Gunter said she allowed Anderson to touch her. “There was a touching-feeling kind of thing but there was no sex, but that’s what they’re getting me on,” Gunter said. She said officials began investigating when her roommate, upset that Gunter was going to charge her rent to live with her, found letters Anderson had written to Gunter and showed them to Gunter’s superiors. “There was nothing sexual,” Gunter said, noting the inmate would pass the letters on to her personally. “He was talking about his life and what he wanted to do when he got out. ... I know I had the badge, I was the officer, but I got kinda scared and took them anyway. I didn’t think I was going to get caught, but obviously I was wrong.”

December 17, 2010 Fort Morgan Times
District Attorney Robert Watson has filed a request in Morgan County District Court to revoke a personal recognizance bond for Jessica Rehn of Fort Morgan. Rehn is accused of smuggling heroin into the Hudson Correctional Facility and was arrested on a warrant on charges of distribution and possession of a schedule 1 controlled substance and introducing contraband into a correctional facility. Wesley Shandy, an inmate in the facility, died of a drug overdose; cellmate James Stanley is accused of providing Shandy with heroin and remains in the facility. Both were serving sentences in the Hudson facility, a private prison, on offenses in Alaska. Watson said Rehn was actively engaged in a multi-state scheme, using the mail, to distribute drugs by personally introducing it into the Hudson prison. The state legislature has required a $50,000 bond for people charged with distributing schedule II controlled substances unless there is showing of good cause to set a different amount, Watson said in his motion. "As a direct result of the defendant's criminal conduct, an inmate died," the D.A. said. Rehn received the heroin by mail August 14 and smuggled two balloons of it into the Hudson facility August 15 in her bra, slipping it to Stanley, her boyfriend, during a kiss, Corey Fox of the Colorado Department of Corrections said in an affidavit. After an August 17 interview with law enforcement, Morgan County Sheriff's Office Investigator Jessica Schlagel obtained permission from Rehn to search her car, and officers found three balloons of suspected heroin and a mail envelope, Fox said. The substance in the bags tested positive for heroin, Fox noted. Fox said that Rehn told law enforcement officials Stanley had asked her to bring drugs into the facility.

August 18, 2010 Greeley Tribune
An autopsy Tuesday failed to pinpoint the cause of death of an Alaskan inmate at the Hudson Correctional Facility in southern Weld County. Wesley Shandy, 44, was found dead in his cell Sunday morning at the prison in Hudson, and the Weld County Coroner's Office performed the autopsy. Chief Coroner's Investigator Mark Ward said there was no cause of death shown in the autopsy, so they will have to wait for the toxicology report. Toxicology tests will indicate if drugs were present in the body and if they contributed to the death. It will take up to two weeks to get the toxicology results in this case, Ward said. No other information has been released. State agencies from Colorado and Alaska are looking into the case. Investigators have not said if there were signs of an assault or a struggle.

August 16, 2010 Denver Post
Authorities from a number of agencies are investigating the death of an inmate from Alaska who was found unresponsive in his cell at Hudson Correctional Facility in Weld County Sunday morning. Wesley Shandy, 44, of Ninilchik was serving a 19-year sentence for manslaughter in the death of his fiancee, felony drunken driving and witness tampering. Hudson Correctional houses a number of Alaskan prisoners at the 1,250-bed medium security private prison operated by GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla. The company released a statement this afternoon. "The Hudson Correctional Facility is cooperating fully with the Alaska Department of Corrections, the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation," according to the statement. A company spokesman citing the investigation said by e-mail he could not comment further.

April 30, 2010 The News Tribune
The security breach this month at a private Colorado prison holding hundreds of Alaskans was caused by human error, according to Cornell Companies, the prison owner and operator. A correctional officer in a central area electronically unlocked the doors to the cells of 41 inmates around 1:20 a.m. on April 14, allowing the prisoners into the pod corridors, Charles Seigel, Cornell spokesman, said Thursday. The officer at Hudson Correctional Facility has resigned, Seigel said. The company wouldn't release the officer's name. Cornell hired experts who determined the problem was not mechanical, Seigel said. Seigel said the officer was properly trained in security procedures and it's not clear why he unlocked the cell doors. The pod holds inmates who were in segregation, typically for behavioral problems or their own protection. The lapse led to an uprising involving eight to 12 inmates, Seigel said. When the cell doors unlocked, most of the inmates stepped out, looked around and returned to their cells, according to Cornell. At least one tried to assist authorities by describing on the intercom what was happening. Two correctional officers in the pod barricaded themselves in a staff office during the disturbance, which lasted about six hours. Some of the inmates used a filing cabinet like a battering ram to try to break into the office, Seigel said. The door was dented but they weren't able to open it. In February, one inmate in the segregation unit punched the assistant warden and broke his nose, Seigel said. That inmate now faces new criminal charges, Seigel said. He said Cornell doesn't release names of inmates and Colorado authorities weren't able to provide details on Friday. Seigel said he didn't know how long the officer who made the mistake had worked for Cornell. The prison only opened in November, and most of the officers were new. Starting pay is $12 an hour and would be higher for experienced officers, according to Cornell. The state of Alaska contracts with Cornell to house Alaska inmates at Hudson. The prison houses only Alaskans. At the time of the disturbance, 877 inmates were at the facility. Seigel said he thought at least a couple of the instigators in the disturbance had been moved to a Colorado institution. Corrections officials from Colorado and Alaska also have been investigating what happened. The Colorado department's private prison monitoring unit and inspector general's office are involved, said Monica Crocker, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections. As a result of the breach and inmate uprising, Cornell also is looking into making improvements in the security system, Seigel said.

April 14, 2010 Denver Post
A disturbance at the privately owned Hudson Correctional Facility 25 miles northeast of Denver International Airport was sparked when cell doors in a unit housing 41 inmates from Alaska inexplicably opened early this morning. Charles Seigel, spokesman for the Cornell Companies, which operates the prison, said his company is investigating whether the doors opened at about 1:20 a.m. in the prison's segregation unit because of an electronic malfunction or human error. The segregation unit houses inmates who have disciplinary issues and have caused problems, as well as inmates in protective custody, Seigel said. When inmates realized the cell doors were open, many left their cells but most returned a short time later. However, as many as a dozen began destroying sprinkler heads and computers. They also tried to break out of the building by breaking windows. Seigel said the inmates who vandalized the unit were housed there because of disciplinary problems. The disturbance caused widespread water damage. The unit was littered with water, paper and smashed computers. Seigel said that two guards who were in the unit fled to a captain's office where they locked and barricaded the door. He said some of the inmates outside the office tried to protect the two guards in the captain's office. During the disturbance, which lasted until about 7:30 a.m., the two guards were in constant communications with prison officials and were able to watch what was going through windows, Seigel said. Seigel said prison officials decided to let things cool down before acting. At 7:30 a.m., the prison sent in its emergency response team. The team used tear gas to subdue the inmates. No corrections officers were injured. But Seigel said some of the inmates had bruises and abrasions. He said the instigator of the disturbance suffered the worst injury, a cut hand. Seigel said rioters will be charged under Colorado law. Seigel said the entire prison, which houses 877 inmates from Alaska, is on lockdown, with all inmates remaining in their cells. He said the lockdown will remain through at least Thursday. Richard Schmitz, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Corrections, said the Hudson Correctional Facility opened in November 2009. Only Alaska inmates are housed there.

April 14, 2010 AP
A small group of Alaska inmates took over a section of the privately owned Hudson Correctional Facility during a prison disturbance overnight. No injuries were reported in the disturbance that happened late Tuesday or early Wednesday at the prison owned by Cornell Companies Inc. Company spokesman Charles Seigel says the disturbance involving about eight inmates has been brought under control. The group damaged sprinklers, setting off a fire alarm. Additional details were not immediately available. Cornell opened the 1,250-bed medium security prison in November and houses about 1,000 inmates from Alaska. The Colorado Department of Corrections, which oversees private prisons in the state, has sent six investigators to the prison Wednesday. A telephone call seeking comment from Alaska Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt Wednesday was not immediately returned.

September 27, 2009 Alaska Dispatch
After 15 years of managing Alaska prisoners housed out-of-state, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has lost its contract to Cornell Corrections. Cornell's will charge the state about $19,446,000 a year to house 900 prisoners, while CCA's plan would have cost $18,724,000 -- $722,000 less a year. Either way the state will realize savings over the $20,669,000 it now pays through a contract with CCA. The 770 inmates serving time at CCA's Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona will be moved late this year to Cornell's Hudson Correctional Facility in Colorado, a 1,250-bed center now under construction. The move -- via special U.S. Marshals Service planes -- is expected to cost Alaska more than $200,000, Alaska Department of Corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz said. The Department of Corrections denied a protest of the award filed by CCA attorneys, who said they won't launch further appeal. In the protest, CCA attorneys Charles Cole -- a former Alaska Attorney General -- and Stephen Williams argued that Cornell Corrections of Alaska lacks the basic experience the state requires, and that a preference system for Alaska-based bidders was misused. Cornell's bid was more costly than CCA's for the three-year term, but a proposal evaluation panel awarded Cornell's plan more points because of the company's status as an Alaska entity. Points matter as a committee rates the proposals in several categories. According to CCA's protest, the company gained more points than Cornell in five other evaluation categories. In denying the protest, the state said Cornell Alaska qualifies for two perks as an in-state company -- a bidder's preference and an offeror's preference -- and that Cornell meets experience standards. CCA's attorneys argue that Cornell's Alaska enterprise manages halfway house centers and lacks experience housing federal prisoners. In its bid, Cornell turned to its parent company, based in Houston, as the qualified service provider. CCA's attorneys took issue with the state awarding Alaska preferences to a business that would turn the contract over to its Texas parent company to manage. Alaska has contracted with CCA since 1994 to house sentenced prisoners out of state. Currently, 770 Alaska inmates are serving time away. Most have at least year-long sentences. Meantime, the $240 million, 1,536-bed Goose Creek Correctional Center is scheduled to open in 2012 at Point MacKenzie. The medium-security men's facility, which is expected to alleviate Alaska's prison space shortage, is being funded through bonds issued by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The state will pay off the bonds by leasing the facility from the borough, and will take ownership once the bill is settled. Cornell has tried for years to solidify support for a private prison in Alaska, and became wrapped up in a far-reaching probe into political corruption. The company's lobbyist, Bill Bobrick, pleaded guilty on charges he tried to bribe Rep. Tom Anderson--who is now serving time in federal prison himself-- to advocate for a private prison. Cornell was not implicated.

August 8, 2009 Stock House
Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN) announced today that it has received from the State of Alaska, Department of Corrections ("Alaska DOC"), a Notice of Intent to Award a contract to house 1,000 state prisoners at its Hudson Correctional Facility (the "Facility") located in Hudson, Colorado. The Facility, which will have a service capacity of 1,250 beds, is presently under construction and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2009, at which point the Company anticipates initiating inmate ramp. Under the existing terms of the Notice of Intent, the Alaska DOC will house 1,000 adult male inmates at the Facility, with an agreed-upon 800-bed guarantee. Upon completion of the inmate ramp and once full occupancy has been achieved, the contract is expected to generate nearly $22 million in annualized operating revenues. The Notice of Intent to Award is subject to the expiration of the applicable protest period and final execution of a written contract, which is expected to occur in a few weeks. At that time, the Company anticipates that it will be able to confirm expected activation dates and to discuss the impact of startup expenses at the Facility in the third and fourth quarters of 2009.

March 8, 2007 Greeley Tribune
Hudson town board members decided Wednesday night to postpone a decision to move forward with plans on annexing a portion of unincorporated Weld County for future use as a private women's prison. Close to 50 residents from Weld County were at the meeting to voice concerns they had regarding the economic impact the proposed prison would create. Hudson Mayor Neal Pontius said the town plans to begin annexing what would be close to 320 acres northwest of Hudson. Once the area becomes part of the town, he said he would like to leave it up to the residents to vote on whether the area should be zoned for the use of the prison. Pontius said the vote is tentatively set for May. "I want to get all the information and I want to make a smart choice for the town," Pontius said. The annexation was postponed to get more residents' comments. Last June, the Colorado Department of Corrections awarded Houston-based Cornell Companies the bid to build an 832-bed women's prison in Hudson, a potentially $16 million annual contract. Cornell Companies runs prisons in 18 states throughout the country, including one juvenile treatment facility in Cañon City. The proposal for the prison was put forward to the city's town board last April. Some residents already have begun working to convince the community that a prison would be a bad choice for the town, said Laura Moreland, who lives outside the city limits in Fort Lupton. "We are opposed to private prisons in general," Moreland said. In the research she's done on private prisons she said shows higher escape rates. She said she also is concerned because the town does not have a police department. She said she wonders how the town will respond to the security issues a prison could create. "I think it is a huge concern," Moreland said. "The thought of having a prison that close is very frightening and I'm worried about the safety of my children." Other residents, however, felt the growth would be good for the town. "If some of the money is going to be used to build streets, then I'm for it," said resident Randy Childs. "I've been waiting 34 years for my dirt street to get paved." Pontius said it still remains unclear how much having a prison would actually increase the town's revenue.

Huerfano County Correctional Facility
Walsenburg, Colorado
CCA
March 28, 2011 NPR
Private Prison Promises Leave Texas Towns In Trouble by John Burnett The country with the highest incarceration rate in the world — the United States — is supporting a $3 billion private prison industry. In Texas, where free enterprise meets law and order, there are more for-profit prisons than any other state. But because of a growing inmate shortage, some private jails cannot fill empty cells, leaving some towns wishing they'd never gotten in the prison business. It seemed like a good idea at the time when the west Texas farming town of Littlefield borrowed $10 million and built the Bill Clayton Detention Center in a cotton field south of town in 2000. The charmless steel-and-cement-block buildings ringed with razor wire would provide jobs to keep young people from moving to Lubbock or Dallas. For eight years, the prison was a good employer. Idaho and Wyoming paid for prisoners to serve time there. But two years ago, Idaho pulled out all of its contract inmates because of a budget crunch at home. There was also a scandal surrounding the suicide of an inmate. Shortly afterward, the for-profit operator, GEO Group, gave notice that it was leaving, too. One hundred prison jobs disappeared. The facility has been empty ever since. A Hard Sell "Maybe ... he'll help us to find somebody," says Littlefield City Manager Danny Davis good-naturedly when a reporter shows up for a tour. For sale or contract: a 372-bed, medium-security prison with double security fences, state-of-the-art control room, gymnasium, law library, classrooms and five living pods. Davis opens the gray steel door to a barren cell with bunk beds and stainless-steel furniture. "You can see the facility here. [It's] pretty austere, but from what I understand from a prison standpoint, it's better than most," he says, still trying to close the sale. For the past two years, Littlefield has had to come up with $65,000 a month to pay the note on the prison. That's $10 per resident of this little city. A Resident Burden Is the empty prison a big white elephant for the city of Littlefield? "Is it something we have that we'd rather not have? Well, today that would probably be the case," Davis says. To avoid defaulting on the loan, Littlefield has raised property taxes, increased water and sewer fees, laid off city employees and held off buying a new police car. Still, the city's bond rating has tanked. The village elders drinking coffee at the White Kitchen cafe are not happy about the way things have turned out. "It was never voted on by the citizens of Littlefield; [it] is stuck in their craw," says Carl Enloe, retired from Atmos Energy. "They have to pay for it. And the people who's got it going are all up and gone and they left us... " "...Holdin' the bag!" says Tommy Kelton, another Atmos retiree, completing the sentence. The Declining Prison Population The same thing has happened to communities across Texas. Once upon a time, it seems every small town wanted to be a prison town. But the 20-year private prison building boom is over. Some prisons are struggling outside Texas, too. Hardin, Mont., defaulted on its bond payments after trying, so far unsuccessfully, to fill its 464-bed minimum security prison. And a prison in Huerfano County, Colo., closed after Arizona pulled out its 700 inmates. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the total correctional population in the United States is declining for the first time in three decades. Among the reasons: The crime rate is falling, sentencing alternatives mean fewer felons doing hard time and states everywhere are slashing budgets. The Texas legislature, looking for budget cuts, is contemplating shedding 2,000 contract prison beds. Statewide, more than half of all privately operated county jail beds are empty, according to figures from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. "Too many times we've seen jails that have got into it and tried to make it a profitable business to make money off of it and they end up fallin' on their face," says Shannon Herklotz, assistant director of the commission. The packages look sweet. A town gets a new detention center without costing the taxpayers anything. The private operator finances, constructs and operates an oversized facility. The contract inmates pay off the debt and generate extra revenue. The economic model works fine until they can't find inmates. In Waco, McLennan County borrowed $49 million to build an 816-bed jail and charge day rates for bunk space. But today because of the convict shortage, the fortress east of town remains more than half empty. The sheriff and county judge, once champions of the new jail, now decline to comment on it. Former McLennan County Deputy Rick White, who opposed the jail, had this to say about the prison developers who put the deal together: "They get the corporations formed, they get the bonds sold, they get the facility built, their money is front-loaded, they take their money out. And then there's no reason for them to support the success of the facility." Two of Texas' busiest private prison consultants — James Parkey and Herb Bristow — declined repeated requests for interviews. The Inmate Market Private prison companies insist their future is sunny. A spokesman for the GEO Group declined to speak about the Littlefield prison, but he sent along a slew of press releases highlighting the company's new inmate contracts and prison expansions across the country. Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison operator, says the demand for its facilities remains strong, particularly for federal immigration detainees. New Jersey-based Community Education Centers, which has been pulling out of unprofitable jails across Texas, issued a statement that "the current (jail) population fluctuation" is cyclical. One of the places where CEC is cancelling its contract is Falls County, in central Texas, where a for-profit jail addition is losing money. Now it's up to Falls County Judge Steve Sharp to hustle up jailbirds: "If somebody is out there charging $30 a day for an inmate, we need to charge $28. We really don't have a choice of not filling those beds," he said. Another place where they're desperate for inmates is Anson, the little town north of Abilene, Texas, once famous for its no-dancing law. Today, Jones County owns a brand-new $34 million prison and an $8 million county jail, both of which sit empty. The prison developers made their money and left. Then the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reneged on a contract to fill the new prison with parole violators. The county's Public Facility Corporation that borrowed the money to build the lockups owes $314,000 a month — with no paying inmates. They've got a year's worth of bond service payments set aside before county officials start to sweat. "The market has changed nationwide in the last 18 months or two years. It's certainly a different picture than when we started this project. And so we're continuing to work the problem," Jones County Judge Dale Spurgin says. Grayson County, north of Dallas, said no to privatizing its jail. Two years ago, the county was all set to build a $30 million, 750-bed behemoth twice as big as was needed. But the public got queasy and county officials ultimately scuttled the deal. "When you put the profit motive into a private jail, by design, in order to increase your dollars, your revenues, your profits, you need more folks in there and they need to stay longer," says Bill Magers, mayor of the county seat of Sherman, a leading opponent. When the supply of prison beds exceeds the demand for prison beds, there are beneficiaries. The overcrowded Harris County Jail in Houston, the nation's third largest, farms out about 1,000 prisoners to private jails. Littlefield and most other under-occupied facilities in Texas have all been in touch with Houston. "It really is a buyer's market right now, especially a county our size," says Capt. Robin Kinetsky, who is in charge of inmate processing for the Harris County Sheriffs Department. "They're really wanting to get our business. So, we're getting good deals." Nearby, disheveled and unsmiling men are brought from a holding cell to stand before a booking officer for their intake interviews. The detainees are wholly unaware that they may soon become the newest commodities of the volatile inmate market. Aarti Shahani contributed to this NPR News investigation and report.

March 24, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
All Arizona inmates formerly held at the Huerfano County Correctional Center have been transferred out of the facility, clearing the way for the closure of the prison early next month, corrections officials said Monday. Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates the facility, announced in January that it will close the prison in April. Officials at the private prison company said Monday the prison officially will close April 2. Steve Owen, director of communications for Nashville-headquartered CCA, said by 2 p.m. the inmates were in custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections. Owen said employees will work at the facility until it closes. Allan Cramer, a spokesman for the Huerfano facility, said employees will remain at the facility to get the prison tuned up and ready for a potential client should they want a tour. "Officially, the doors close on April 2, but between now and then there will be some activity," Cramer said. Citizens in this community of more than 4,000 already are feeling the pain of the impending closure with layoffs of town employees and other job losses. The facility, the county's second largest employer, had about 188 workers. Approximately 75 of the employees commute from Pueblo. Of the remaining workers, about 90 reside in Walsenburg and Huerfano County, with others commuting from Trinidad and Colorado City. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other state officials are phasing out all out-of-state beds, including the use of the Huerfano County prison, where 700 Arizona inmates were housed. The contract with CCA expired earlier this month. Cramer said CCA is continuing to actively seek a new client for the prison, but as of Monday, none had come forward. CCA, which claims the mantle of the fourth-largest corrections system in the nation, houses approximately 75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities, 44 of which are company-owned, with a total bed capacity of more than 80,000, according to the company's Web site. Prison officials have said that several employees are transferring to CCA’s other prisons in Colorado, and some are obtaining employment in other areas. Walsenburg Mayor Bruce Quintana said with inmates now gone, the closure has become more of a reality. "Our community is rather numb to this now because we have been through several closures over the past 30 years," Quintana said.

March 7, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
With the closure of the town's second-largest employer approaching, town officials are preparing to deal with the loss of almost 200 jobs in an already struggling economy. Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates the Huerfano County Correctional Center, announced in January that it will close the prison in April. Officials at the private prison company said this week that the prison officially will close April 2. The upcoming closure has cast a pall over the town. Citizens in this community of more than 4,000 already are feeling the pain. The impending prison closure and a prior budget shortfall have forced the town to lay off 10 people with another four layoffs possibly to come. "The prison closing and the (loss of) revenue derived from it has added to the burden of an already stressed budget," said Mayor Bruce Quintana. "All departments have been affected. I believe that this (town) council is acting to right the ship. It's a difficult job, laying off people in a small community, because many of these people are our friends," Quintana said. City Administrator Alan Hein said the town could lose between $250,000 and $300,000 from lost utility sales to the prison, concessions and sales taxes. Hein said the budget already was short $300,000 before the closure was announced. "We have to restructure our operations to try and accommodate this loss. It's pretty serious when you drop that much on your revenue side in a budget the size that we have," Hein said. Hein said he hopes the layoffs will help take care of the original shortfall. "I am just not sure. There are a lot of variables here. "The worst-case scenario is that we would have to lay off four more people," Hein said. Hein said there will be minimal cuts to the police department. "We are actually restructuring the whole department and trying to make it more efficient. We are reevaluating the way the department does business and trying to save money," Hein said. The town had been in discussions to merge the police department with the Huerfano County Sheriff's Department, but the issue was tabled by the town council last month, Hein said. "The council has decided not to discard the proposal, but to put it on the back burner and see if we can do some adjustments within our organization," Hein said. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other state officials are phasing out all out-of-state beds, including the use of the Huerfano County prison, where 700 Arizona inmates are housed. The contract with CCA is set to expire Tuesday. Allan Cramer, a spokesman for the Huerfano County prison, said inmates will begin leaving Colorado next week by bus and plane. "The last ones will be gone by March 22," Cramer said. Cramer said CCA is continuing to actively seek a new client for the prison, but that as of Thursday, none had come forward. The Walsenburg prison employs 188. Approximately 75 of the employees commute from Pueblo. Of the remaining workers, about 90 reside in Walsenburg and Huerfano County, with others commuting from Trinidad and Colorado City. Cramer said several employees are transferring to CCA’s other prisons in Colorado, and some are obtaining employment in other areas. "The mood here is pretty upbeat and optimistic. Everyone wants to give it their usual 100-percent effort until the last inmates are gone," Cramer said. The sluggish economy also is having an impact on Main Street here. The historic Fox Theater, 715 Main St., will take a direct hit from the prison closure. Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha said the county has been paying for utilities for the theater out of what is called the Prison Authority Fund. "The county contracted with the correctional center when it opened to form this fund. In that agreement, the county receives 50 cents per prisoner per day which goes directly into the Prison Authority Fund," Galusha said. Galusha said the revenue generated from the fund is about $130,000 a year. "Without that revenue coming in, some of the things from the prison authority will take a hit next year," Galusha said. The prison fund also helps pay for new sheriff's department vehicles and youth programs. Galusha said the Fox was receiving about $400 a month to pay for utilities. "The county will use the reserves from the prison to fund the Fox Theater through the end of the year. If CCA doesn't have a new contract, then we are going to have to evaluate if we can help the theater through other funds or if we are going to have to ask them to become self-sufficient," Galusha said. The county has budgeted $7,500 this year for the theater.

January 27, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
A former inmate at the Huerfano County Correctional Center in Walsenburg is suing prison officials, a doctor and two nurses for allegedly failing to give him proper medical care at the facility. In documents filed Jan. 14 in federal court, David Wayne Heidtke claims he has been repeatedly denied his civil rights and not given proper care for an injury to his right arm at the privately owned Corrections Corporations of America facility in Walsenburg. Listed as defendants are CCA, physician Jere Sutton and nurses Anna Jolly and K. Carpenter. The plaintiff is accusing the defendants of having deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious injury. He also is accusing CCA and Sutton of negligence. Court documents state that after fracturing the radius of his right arm on June 2, 2008 Heidtke was sent to Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center emergency room in Walsenburg for treatment. A doctor at the hospital ordered the arm be elevated and ice-packed for the first few days after the injury, noting that it would take three to eight weeks to heal. Heidtke claims the doctor encouraged prison officials to follow the instructions to prevent complications and to call him if severe pain or swelling were to occur. The doctor said if problems occurred to return to the hospital at once. According to court documents, two days after the injury, Sutton evaluated Heidtke and noted swelling of his hand and pain on palpitation and movement. He ordered a cast. Heidtke alleges that after requesting a lower bunk in his cell from Sutton he was denied. Court documents state that Heidtke was forced to climb up into an upper bunk with his arm in a sling. Heidtke alleges that a follow-up was never scheduled and he never received a cast and that Sutton provided no oversight to ensure his patient received treatment. Court documents state that between June 4 and June 15 Heidtke continued to request medical care to no avail. On June 16, Heidtke saw Sutton again and the plaintiff alleges that Sutton noted that Heidtke's fingers and hand were swollen. Heidtke alleges that Sutton refused to send him back to the hospital as the doctor at Spanish Peaks suggested. Heidtke continued to complain saying the pain from his injury was preventing him from sleeping at night. He alleges that nothing was done for his pain and worsening condition. Court documents state that on July 2, 2008, Heidtke was seen by Carpenter. Carpenter allegedly rewrapped the splint and failed to follow nursing protocol or contact a physician. On July 5, 2008, Heidtke was seen by Jolly, who also allegedly rewrapped his arm and did not contact a physician, the documents state. Several weeks passed and on Oct. 16 a request for a neurological evaluation ordered by another doctor was allegedly rejected by CCA corporate offices. On Dec. 5, 2008, the plaintiff was allegedly denied a visit with an orthopedic physician. On March 27, 2009, Heidtke was paroled to a private for-profit halfway house. Court documents state that Heidtke, now responsible to pay for his own medical care, began receiving treatment at a Denver hospital. Heidtke said he continues to suffer from pain and immobility which has interfered with his ability to secure employment and to work.

January 22, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
State lawmakers had mixed reactions to Thursday's announcement that Arizona is pulling its inmates out of a private prison in Walsenburg, dragging almost 200 jobs out with them. Last year, Colorado inmates were relocated from the Huerfano County Correctional Facility, owned by Corrections Corporation of America, to make room for 800 Arizona inmates. "I'm not surprised that Arizona would be pulling back its inmates," Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West. "That state is in a terrible budget crunch. Its whole prison system is up for sale." Conversely, Joint Budget Committee member Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, said Thursday afternoon, "This is the first I've heard of it. I work with CCA as part of the budget process." In 2008, CCA sought a 5-percent increase in the fee paid to it by the state of Colorado per inmate, per day from $52.69 to $55.32. At the time, McFadyen characterized CCA's demands as the Legislature being "held hostage" by threats that CCA would end acceptance of Colorado's inmates if the pay hike wasn't approved. "We took their threat seriously," McFadyen said Thursday. "It's relevant to this discussion. We got our inmates out of there because CCA was going to throw them out." She said CCA officials shouldn't have been surprised by the potential problems it faced from shrinking government budgets and prison populations. "CCA came in as speculative investors, banking on the booming prison populations of a decade ago," McFadyen said. "Economic development through growing the prison industry is not good public policy." Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, was reluctant to blame the situation on CCA's absence of foresight. "They simply need to find some new customers," McKinley said. "The reason we have prisons is the market's out there. If we didn't need them, we wouldn't have them.

January 21, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
Corrections Corporation of America will pull out of the Huerfano County Correctional Center in April, company officials said Thursday. In a report released this morning, CCA officials said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other state officials announced Jan. 15 a proposal to phase out all out-of-state beds, including the use of the Huerfano County facility, where 700 Arizona inmates are housed. The contract with CCA is set to expire March 9. As a result, CCA will be closing the Walsenburg prison, which employs a staff of 188. According to the report, the closure date has not been determined, but is anticipated to occur in April. CCA is working with Arizona officials on the timing of the phasing out of Arizona inmates. Allan Kramer, a spokesman for the Huerfano center, said there is an air of uncertainty regarding the future of the correctional center. "Everyone is still evaluating the situation and keeping a positive outlook. Our company is actively seeking a new client," Kramer said.

January 21, 2010 Corrections Corporation of America
CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) (NYSE: CXW), the nation's largest partnership corrections provider to government agencies, announced today that the proposed budgets by the Arizona Governor and Legislature, released on January 15, 2010, would phase out the utilization of private out-of-state beds. CCA currently has management contracts with Arizona at its 752-bed Huerfano County Correctional Center in Walsenburg, Colorado and at its 2,160-bed Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Oklahoma. The proposed phase-out of utilizing out-of-state beds is based on Arizona's budget crisis and its desire to utilize additional in-state capacity that will come on-line in 2010. As a result of the budget proposals, there is a significant risk that CCA will lose the opportunity to house offenders from Arizona at its Huerfano and Diamondback facilities during 2010. Our contract with Arizona at Huerfano expires on March 8, 2010, and our contract at Diamondback expires on May 1, 2010. In the event that Arizona should not renew one or both of these contracts, CCA will work with Arizona officials related to the timing of any phase-out of Arizona inmate populations. We would anticipate that such populations would be transferred out within 30 to 60 days following expiration of each management contract. If Arizona removes its offender populations housed at these facilities, CCA will likely close both facilities. During 2009, CCA generated approximately $56.5 million in revenues from both of these contracts.

September 18, 2009 The Pueblo Chieftain
Inmates at the Huerfano County Correctional Facility remained locked down Thursday while officials continued an investigation into a weekend brawl. According to Allan Cramer, public information officer at the Corrections Corporation of America-run facility, more than 10 inmates reportedly were involved in a fistfight Saturday in one of the prison housing units. Cramer said that the actual number of inmates involved is unknown at this time. All inmates have been locked down since the altercation Saturday. There were no serious injuries and weapons were not used in the incident, Cramer said. "The fight between the inmates was cause enough to lock down the facility. That gives a chance for everything to cool off and for us to shake down the whole facility which is routine also. "Investigators will search every cell for contraband." Cramer said investigators are still looking into the cause of the altercation. He said that corrections officers are reviewing video tapes at the facility. "There have been no further incidents since Saturday. The altercation was quickly stopped," Cramer said. Cramer said that it is common for the facility to place inmates on lock down after fights. The facility currently houses more than 700 inmates from Arizona. In May, all Colorado inmates at the facility were transferred to other state facilities, making room for nearly 752 Arizona inmates.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

June 25, 2009 The Pueblo Chieftain
Inmates at the Huerfano County Correctional Center were placed on a four-day lock-down after three homemade weapons were found by corrections officers last week. A prisonwide search for contraband that began on June 17 and ended Saturday turned up no other weapons or forms of contraband. Allan Cramer, public information officer at the Corrections Corporation of America-run facility, said Wednesday that the three objects were sharp instruments fashioned from scrap metal. "The weapons were found during routine searches and we decided to lock down the prison to search for more. We were locked down for four days and every area of the prison was searched, including every cell, but no more homemade weapons were found," Cramer said. Cramer said the objects were found in the commons area of the prison under a vending machine. "Anytime we find contraband, either dangerous or nondangerous, we have to do what we call a shake-down. We search every nook and cranny of the facility and inmates are held on lock-down," Cramer said. In May, all Colorado inmates at the facility were transferred to other state facilities, making room for nearly 752 Arizona inmates. Cramer said that about 600 Colorado inmates were moved from Huerfano to three of the organization's other facilities in Crowley, Bent and Kit Carson counties. Cramer said that situations where contraband had been found happened several times over the 11-year span that Colorado inmates were housed at the facility.

March 24, 2009 The Denver Channel
A private prison is planning to transfer its Colorado inmates to other facilities to make room for 752 inmates from Arizona. The Colorado inmates will be moved from the Huerfano County Correctional Center to other facilities in Colorado run by Corrections Corporation of America(CCA), according to the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper. No Colorado statute keeps the state from accepting inmates from other states. CCA has four private prisons in Colorado. The CCA prison in Walsenburg opened in November 1997. State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, is not happy about the plan. She told the newspaper, "Coloradans should be concerned because earlier this year we heard that there was a question of whether or not they wanted to dump the Guantanamo Bay detainees in Colorado and now we are hearing they want to dump Arizona's inmates here. Why would we want Arizona's criminals in Colorado?"

October 26, 2008 Pueblo Chieftain
Inmates at the Huerfano County Correctional Center were placed on lockdown Sunday following a fight that broke out in the prison yard Saturday. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said 30 inmates were involved in the incident and one suffered a minor shoulder injury. No weapons were involved. Sanguinetti said correctional officers quelled the situation immediately. "The inmates were placed on lockdown for a safety precaution. It's a normal safety procedure to allow officers to make sure the facility is safe," Sanguinetti said. Sanguinetti did not say how long the inmates would remain on lockdown. All programs and visiting hours have been cancelled. The private facility is a medium security men's prison owned by Corrections Corporations of America.

September 25, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
A correctional officer at the Huerfano County Correctional Center in Walsenburg has been arrested on suspicion of Internet sexual exploitation of a child, Internet luring of a child and attempted sexual exploitation of a child. Brad Sanchez, 31, of Walsenburg, is accused of contacting undercover Jefferson County district attorney's investigators in an Internet chatroom and, thinking he was talking to a 14-year-old girl, soliciting sexually explicit photographs. He was arrested Thursday night after he agreed to meet authorities in Jefferson County. He is free on $10,000 bond. Sanchez is a sergeant at the correctional center, operated by Corrections Corp. of America, officials said.

February 8, 2002
Even before the January opening of a new 480-bed state prison in Trinidad, Colo., and a 127-bed detention facility in Akron, Colo., the four private, for-profit prisons in the state had 724 empty beds. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in Burlington, Walsenburg and Las Animas, Colo., had a total of 575 empty prison beds. Additionally, the private prison at Olney Springs, Colo., had 149 empty beds.   CCA acknowledged it has lost revenue because of the vacant beds. Last January, the private prisons had nearly 1,900 empty beds after the state transferred inmates to its new 2,447-bed facility at Sterling, Colo. It is state policy to keep as many state prisoners as possible in state prisons, rather than private ones. (Corrections Professional)

August 2, 2001
An Oklahoma man who had been a Colorado prison guard was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for deliberately injuring a restrained inmate.  Michael Cook of Fort Cobb worked at a prison in Walsenburg, Colo., operated by the Corrections Corporation of America. He pleaded guilty in April to charges of dropping the handcuffed inmate face-down from about knee-height onto the floor in 1998.  At the sentencing in U.S. District Court, Cook, 31, said he was following orders 

April 14, 2001
A Fort Cobb man pleaded guilty to injuring a restrained inmate at a prison in southern Colorado where he was a guard.  Michael Cook was working for Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Walsenburg prison under contract for Colorado.  Cook was charged in U.S. District Court in Denver and pleaded guilty Thursday to depriving the inmate of his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.  Cook admitted in a signed plea agreement that in 1998 he dropped the inmate, who was handcuffed, face down from about knee height onto the floor.  The inmate appeared unconscious.  (Oklahoman)

January 17, 2001
Two former prison guards are on there way to prison. A federal judge sentenced Joseph Torrez and Harry Pollard on Friday to two years behind bars for beating an inmate March 1998 at private prison in Walsenburg. The two guards worked at the Huerfano County Correctional center, which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America, the nation's largest for-profit prison company. Federal prosecutors said numerous guards and officials at the facility now are under investigtion. Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Kaufman said the investigation has taken a long time because of "the wall of silence by individuals in the institution...protecting each other or just denying that any wrongdoing occurred." Torrez and Pollard admitted beating inmate Daniel Murphy while his hands were cuffed and his ankles were shackled. The two admitted beating inmate Daniel Murphy while his hands were cuffed and his ankles were shackled. The investigation began after Murphy wrote to an FBI agent in Colorado Springs, asking for help. Murphy since has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court.  (Denver Rocky Mountain News)

October 27, 2000
A federal judge has told two former supervisors at a private prison in Walsenburg they will serve time behind bars when they are sentenced for beating an inmate. Harry Pollard and Joseph Torrez admitted beating the inmate Daniel Murphy on separate occasions on March 17, 1998. Murphy had been subdued after injuring another guard in a fight. Prosecutors and Pollard said his supervisor, who has not been identified, told him, "You know what to do," which Pollard understood as permission to teach Murphy a lesson by beating him. The inmate was dropped face down onto the floor, injuring his face. Later that day, Torrez, who was a captain and shift supervisor, was assigned to transport Murphy to a state-operated prison in Canon City. An unidentified supervisor told Torrez to beat Murphy again, according to a 13-page plea agreement. Torrez and an unnamed officer beat Murphy while he was restrained by handcuffs, leg irons and a belly chain, according to the plea agreement. Other prison employees may also be prosecuted for beating Murphy, authorities said. (Associated Press)

Jefferson County
Jefferson County, Colorado
Cornerstone Programs 
January 22,  2002
Two administrators who ran a youth corrections facility that had its license revoked by the state in 1998 have won a preliminary, multi-million dollar state contract to run a similar facility. In 1998, the Colorado Department of Human Services shut down the High Plains Youth Center operated by a company called Rebound and run by Jane O'Shaughnessy and Joe Newman. The facility often was cited for violating state regulations and the suicide of a 13-year-old boy eventually led to its downfall. Now, O'Shaughnessy and Newman head a company called Cornerstone Programs, which earlier this month received preliminary approval for the contract to run a new $7 million facility for 40 female delinquents in Jefferson County. "We've been very satisfied" with the work of Cornerstone's programs, said Steve Bates, director of the state Division of Youth Corrections.   "They provide good services." However, audits of the Grand Prairie operation show the state consistently cited the 40-bed facility for violating state regulations and Grand Prairie consistently ignored those citations, some for up to three years. Violations included:   Nonlicensed personnel performing medical examinations ; No relevant vocational programs outside of a Saturday welding class ; No programming with meaningful credit for students who have GEDs; No data to track students' academic progress ; Food-handling practices that were potential threats to food safety.   Bates said it's important to note an audit is based on 400 different standards, Grand Prairie gets monitored quarterly, and each time there is a violation the facility is required to submit an action plan for correction. Newman said all of the states where Cornerstone operates have been very pleased. The High Plains Youth Center at Brush also failed to meet standards, but it was the death of 13-year-old Matthew Maloney in February 1998 that precipitated an intense investigation by human services, eventually leading to the facility's demise. The Utah boy committed suicide by hanging himself with a bedsheet. His body went undiscovered for four to six hours. Under the guise of "positive peer pressure," inmates essentially ran the facility, investigators found. They had terrorized staff and more vulnerable inmates. Several female employees had been offering inmates sexual favors. Other states removed their youth and Colorado followed suit. Rebound's license was revoked in April 1998. (Denver Post )

Kit Carson CC
Burlington, Colorado
CCA
June 29, 2012 AP
State prison officials plan to house hundreds of inmates at a privately run lockup in Colorado to avoid overcrowding at home. The Idaho Department of Correction expects to finalize a contract in early July with Corrections Corporation of America to house inmates at the prison company's Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, Colo. Idaho plans to send 250 males inmates to the out-of-state facility in late July or early August. That number is expected to reach 450 a year from now if Idaho's prison population continues to grow at its current rate. The state's prisons are at capacity with 8,100 inmates, with some being housed in county jails. Prison officials have previously sent inmates out-of-state, but problems in Texas, as well as slowing inmate numbers in Idaho, prompted their return.

February 24, 2012 9News
The Colorado Department of Corrections has started reviewing its inmate seat belt policy as 9Wants to Know started asking questions about a rollover accident that killed a 22-year-old prison guard and a 57-year-old inmate. Inmates riding in the van had no seat belts. The van was owned by CCA, a private-prison company that Colorado pays to house some inmates. The crash occurred Dec. 19, 2011 on an icy stretch of Interstate 70 east of Limon. Grace Cortez and another guard were transporting nine inmates from the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington to the Limon Correctional Facility when the CCA van Cortez was driving went out of control and rolled at least twice. Cortez and inmate Andres Valdez died. Cortez was wearing a seat belt. The other guard was not, but he survived. "It was pretty crazy on that ride," inmate Kitt Cook said. Cook sat right next to Valdez. "We were going faster than all of the other traffic," Cook said. Inmate Rudy Heredia was riding in another prison transport van behind the first and watched the crash happen. "Where I was sitting, I could see the speedometer," Heredia said. "[We were going] 80 to 85 mph." Both vans were about seven miles from Limon when Cortez lost control. "I was scared I was going to lose my life," Cook said. Cortez died of blunt-force trauma. Valdez died of a severe head injury and blunt-force trauma. "I could visually see into his head. His scalp was cracked pretty bad," Cook said. A Colorado State Patrol report says speeding and an inexperienced driver were factors in the crash. Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti says the incident caused the state to review its policy. "Because of the accident, any good corrections organization will review their practices," Sanguinetti told 9Wants to Know when asked if inmates would be safer if they had the option to buckle up. "We are talking to other states and looking at what other policies are." 9Wants to Know found there are some Colorado prisoners who do get seat belts. Inmates transferring between state prisons can buckle up, but the state doesn't require private-prison companies who transport state inmates to have seat belts.

December 29, 2011 Denver Post
Grace Cortez was driving too fast before a van carrying nine inmates to Limon flipped on an icy Interstate 70. About 11 a.m. Dec. 19, a Corrections Corporation of America van was transporting the inmates from its Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington to the state-run prison in Limon when the van flipped. Cortez, 22, and 57-year-old Andres Valdez, an inmate riding in the back of the van, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Colorado State Patrol. The van, which was pulling a trailer, flipped between Genoa and Limon. Cortez was exceeding the posted speed limit of 75 mph when the van flipped, the patrol reported. Cortez was driving in the left lane, passing other vehicles, when she lost control of the van, the patrol said. The van veered off the left side of the road and rolled twice before it landed upright in the grassy median. The trailer broke loose from the van as it rolled and also landed upright in the median. The other eight prisoners and one staff member who survived the crash were taken to Lincoln Community Hospital in Hugo.

December 17, 2011 The Denver Channel
A prisoner and a corrections officer were killed on Monday when a prison van crashed in Lincoln County. Officials said the van rolled into the median on Interstate 70 between Limon and Genoa. There were 11 people in the van when the crash occurred -- nine prisoners and two guards. All of the offenders have been accounted for and are being treated for any injuries, officials said. One eastbound lane of I-70 is blocked. The van, owned by Corrections Corporation of America, was pulling a trailer. The Colorado State Patrol is investigating the cause of the accident. Officials with CCA said the van was headed from the Kit Carson Correctional Center (operated by CCA) to the Limon Correctional Facility (operated by the Department of Corrections).

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

October 13, 2006 Summit Daily News
Six private prisons in the state were fined about $131,000 for failing to staff mandatory positions, the Colorado Department of Corrections said. It was the second time such penalties were levied since a riot broke out in 2004 at the Crowley County Correctional Facility and an audit exposed staffing problems at the prisons. The department released documents this week showing the six prisons had 1,071 vacant positions from February to May. The Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington received the largest fine of $83,103 for having 567 positions open. It was docked in $103,743 previously after it left 701 jobs vacant from November to January. The center is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also runs the Crowley County Correctional Facility. Alison Morgan, the department's head of private prison monitoring, said some places have difficulty finding and retaining workers, especially in remote areas.

June 25, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
The state has levied fines of $126,000 for short-staffing at two private prisons run by Corrections Corp. of America, which just won a contract to incarcerate 720 more Colorado prisoners. The new inmates will go to a different CCA prison in Las Animas, which had only minor staffing violations during inspections last winter. The fines are the first in Colorado. The penalties were recommended by a searing state auditor's report on the private prisons last year. The audit was prompted by a riot at the CCA prison in Crowley County in 2004. An inquiry found that CCA's staff-to-inmate ratio was one-seventh of a state prison's at the time. Only 33 uniformed officers were guarding 1,122 inmates. Staffing has improved since the fines were levied, said Alison Morgan, the state's supervisor of private prisons. CCA's Kit Carson County prison in Burlington, near the Colorado- Kansas state line, was fined $103,743 for leaving 701 required shifts empty in a 10-week period from Nov. 1 to Jan. 10, records show. That's about 10 people short per day over three shifts. The missing staff members were largely guards in various locations. On five shifts, the supervisor was missing, and on 44 shifts, there was no assistant supervisor. The fines could have been much higher. The state waived nearly $46,000 of penalties for October 2005 at the Kit Carson prison, saying it was unfair to enforce the contract only a few days after it was signed in September. Documents say state officials complained that in November, there were 435 cases in which employees did not sign out, making it impossible for state inspectors to know if the short-staffing had been even worse. CCA's Crowley County prison in Olney Springs was fined nearly $23,000 for leaving 157 shifts open in the same period. It, too, was given a reprieve for October's fines, which would have been $18,000.

September 10, 2003
A lawsuit making its way through the federal courts charges that the staff at a privately run prison in eastern Colorado allowed an inmate to die after they failed to provide him with needed medication.  Jeffery Buller’s medication cost only about $35 a month. But for some reason, when it ran out, Buller’s mother said his prescription wasn't renewed by prison staff, and he ended up dying.  Private prisons are a growing trend in this country as states try to keep costs down. Buller's mother believes that can have a fatal downside.  “I have not gotten a real explanation,” said Tamara Schlitters about the circumstances surrounding her son’s death two years ago.  Buller was serving time in the Kit Carson Correctional Center for sex assault. He suffered from a medical condition called hereditary angioedema and his files stated that he was to receive the drug Winstrol. Without this drug, his lungs could swell up and he could die. So the private company that runs the prison, Corrections Corporation of America, gave him the drug until several days before he was to be released. “They stopped giving him his medication because he was going to be released on the second of May,” she said. For ten days, Schlitters said her son suffered in his cell as his condition worsened, reportedly going to the medical counter each day asking for Winstrol. He was told they were out and was given another drug that didn't work. The day before he was to be released, he couldn't speak and he could barely breathe.  “He was observed by other inmates trying to force his own fingers down his throat in an effort to open up his own airway,” said Schlitters.  Buller died in the prison May 1, 2001. The coroner who examined his body found it was his untreated condition that killed him. Tamara's lawyers also found out that the manager of the prison's medical unit had been given an award from the company for keeping costs down.  Schlitters believes her son died as a result of overzealous cost cutting.  (9 News KUSA-TV)

March 25, 2003
A former inmate's mother has filed a lawsuit alleging her son died in prison because officials didn't want to refill his prescription.  Tamara L. Schlitters of Trinidad filed the federal lawsuit Monday over the death of her son, Jeffrey A. Buller, 26. He died at the Kit Carson Correctional Center at Burlington in 2001.  The prison is run for the state by a private company, Corrections Corporation of America. A woman answering the telephone at the prison said no one was available to comment on the lawsuit Monday.  Buller had hereditary angioedema, which can cause swelling in the airways of the throat, the lawsuit said.  He ran out of his prescription medication 10 days before his scheduled release on parole. Buller repeatedly asked for a refill and a doctor ordered it, but staff never obtained the medicine, the lawsuit said.  The suit alleges that prison officials didn't want to spend money on the medicine because Buller was about to leave the prison. It cost about $35 for a 30-day supply.  Buller had trouble breathing May 1, 2001, as he was packing for his release the next day and died, the lawsuit said.  He was in prison for a sexual encounter with an underage teenage girl when he was 20, said attorney David Lane, who filed the lawsuit for Schlitters.

February 8, 2002
Even before the January opening of a new 480-bed state prison in Trinidad, Colo., and a 127-bed detention facility in Akron, Colo., the four private, for-profit prisons in the state had 724 empty beds. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in Burlington, Walsenburg and Las Animas, Colo., had a total of 575 empty prison beds. Additionally, the private prison at Olney Springs, Colo., had 149 empty beds.   CCA acknowledged it has lost revenue because of the vacant beds. Last January, the private prisons had nearly 1,900 empty beds after the state transferred inmates to its new 2,447-bed facility at Sterling, Colo. It is state policy to keep as many state prisoners as possible in state prisons, rather than private ones. (Corrections Professional)

July 3, 2000
Colorado renews its contract with CCA despite sex scandals, a drug death and rioting.  The prison has been plagued by lawsuits from ex-employees, high-turnover and security breaches. (Denver Rocky Mountain News)

January through September 1999
Charges were made that up to 15 female guards and nurses had affairs with Colorado inmates during the first 9 months of operation of this private facility.

Lamar
Lamar, Colorado
Cornell

November 3, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Citizens voted Tuesday to change the city charter, which will now require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated in town. The measure also bars the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. The ballot measure passed 1,007 to 816. Plans to build a privately owned prison in town surfaced in 2003 and the issue has sparked a long fight. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, the group battling the prison proposal, have fought with city officials for the past three years and on Wednesday members said they were elated to hear the election results. "It's been a long and hard struggle - from lawsuits to protests - we are extremely happy that the citizens get to decide if there will be a prison located here," said Verdell Howard, CCL president. City Administrator Jeff Anderson said Wednesday that the people have spoken and he supports the outcome of the election. "I think we need to be very cautious before we ever approach this issue again." The fight to keep a privately owned prison from being constructed gained momentum last March when District Judge Douglass Tallman ruled against city officials who filed a lawsuit questioning the legality of a petition seeking a vote on the issue. City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court in August 2004 questioning if CCL's petition had more than one subject. Tallman ruled against the city, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. After months of fighting city hall, the petition was approved by the city clerk in April.

October 27, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Citizens opposed to a proposed private prison charge that the local economic development agency is misrepresenting a ballot question on the prison. An amendment to the city charter, which will allow citizens the right to vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated in town, will be on the ballot next week. In August, CCL turned in more than 300 signatures to the city clerk. Only 167 signatures were needed to put the issue on the ballot. On Nov. 1, voters will decide whether to amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Verdell Howard, president of CCL, said Wednesday she is requesting that District Attorney Mike Davidson investigate whether Prowers County Development Inc. has violated a campaign law. Howard alleges that members of PCDI are lying to the public about the measure in fliers and cards they are circulating. Colorado law permits any person to file an affidavit with the district attorney alleging that fair campaign statutes have been violated. Davidson said that by law, he is required to investigate and prosecute if necessary. Howard said that PCDI has violated the statutes by printing misleading information about the ballot measure. Members of PCDI say the proposed amendment is not just about the right to vote on a private prison. PCDI has been handing out fliers and cards that say, "Under the proposed change, any business large or small, looking to open in Lamar might have to go through a citizen vote." Lisa DeLancey, economic development director for Prowers County, said Wednesday that the measure could have a negative impact on attracting new jobs to Lamar and Prowers County. "We are trying to make people realize that a prison is a business and if you are having to put a vote to the citizens for this business then what other businesses are we going to make jump through the same hoop - there is nothing false about our claim," DeLancey said.

October 14, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
An amendment to the city charter, which will allow citizens the right to vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated in town, will be on the ballot next month. Plans to build a 500- to 750-bed private prison in town have been hotly debated since the project was announced in 2003. The estimated construction cost for the proposed prison is $40 million. It would employ 225 workers. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal, filed a petition seeking a vote on the issue last year, but their effort was held up when city officials filed suit questioning if CCL's petition had more than one subject. The lawsuit also asked if CCL has to first notify the city of intent to circulate a petition before it is submitted to the city. District Judge Douglass Tallman ruled against the city on both issues, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. After months of fighting city leaders, CCL's petition was approved by the city clerk in April. In August, CCL turned in more than 300 signatures to the city clerk. Only 167 signatures were needed to put the issue on the ballot. On Nov. 1, voters will decide whether or not to amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison, or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Members of a committee trying to recruit a privately owned prison to Lamar have said that although they remain firm in their resolve, they have decided to tone down their efforts. Lamar City Administrator Jeff Anderson said Thursday that the issue is currently at a standstill. He said the project has been compromised because of a series of events including last year's riot at the privately owned Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs.

September 27, 2005 Lamar Daily News
An amendment to the Lamar Home Rule Charter is on the November ballot. The amendment is designed to change the city charter to allow citizens the right to vote on whether a privately-operated prison facility can be constructed or operated within the city. The ballot measure, which will be mailed to active voters between Oct. 7 and Oct. 17, reads as follows: Referred Measure 2A: Amendments to the Home Rule Charter of the City of Lamar, Colorado concerning privately operated correctional facilities; and in connection therewith, requiring voter approval before any privately operated correctional facility can be constructed or operated within the CIty of Lamar, be recruited or promoted by City employees for the City of Lamar, receive funds from the CIty of Lamar, or receive water and wastewater services from City-owned water or wastewater utilities. A citizens' group, Concerned Citizens of Lamar, proposed the amendment after an ad hoc committee consisting of City Administrator Jeff Anderson, local business leaders and private citizens made public the pros and cons of a privately-owned prison facility operating in Lamar.

April 15, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
A group of citizens opposed to a proposed private prison have finally won the right to circulate petitions calling for a vote on the matter. After months of fighting city leaders, members of the Concerned Citizens of Lamar said Wednesday that the town clerk has approved their form of their petition calling for a citywide vote before any prison can be built or operated in the city. "We are happy to finally get this petition going," said Verdell Howard, spokeswomen for CCL. If the CCL collects the necessary signatures, the issue will be on the November ballot. The petition asks that the issue be decided as part of the November election rather than at a special election. "It will save the city a lot of money," Howard said. In August, city officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court challenging the legality of certain aspects of CCL's petition. The lawsuit also asked if CCL has to first notify the city of intent to circulate a petition before it is submitted to the city. A judge ruled in March against the city on both issues, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. Howard said that since the judge ruled in CCL's favor, the city has been cooperative in every way. Howard said that once CCL files a statement of intent to circulate a petition, the organization will then have 90 days to collect approximately five percent of the registered voters in Lamar or 168 signatures. The petition, which was submitted to the city again last month, would amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Howard said that the group will file a letter of intent and begin the signature-gathering process on Monday. "We will start gathering signatures right after we submit our letter of intent. We anticipate getting more than the required amount of signatures just in case," Howard said.

March 18, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The fight to keep a privately owned prison from being constructed here has gained momentum. District Judge Douglass Tallman ruled Monday against city officials who filed a lawsuit questioning the legality of a petition seeking a vote on the issue. The petition was filed by Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal. The defendants listed on the complaint were CCL members Verdell Howard, Wayne Stokke and Nancy Turner. City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court last August questioning if CCL's petition had more than one subject. The lawsuit also asked if CCL has to first notify the city of intent to circulate a petition before it is submitted to the city. Tallman ruled Monday against the city on both issues, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. The petition, submitted to the city Aug. 16, would amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Howard said that an issue of this magnitude should be put to a vote of citizens and CCL is excited about moving forward. "We are so elated with the judge’s decision - we are as excited as can be," Howard said. Howard, who was notified about the ruling Tuesday, said CCL members are just trying to exercise their rights under the state's system of direct democracy.
"The city disagreed with us, so they tried to stop us through intimidation but it didn't work," Howard said. Last month, members of a committee trying to recruit a privately owned prison to Lamar said that although they remain firm in their resolve, they have decided to tone down their efforts. Lamar Mayor Elwood Gillis said that the project has been compromised because of a series of events including last year's riot at the privately owned Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. Plans to build a 500- to 750-bed private prison in town have been debated since the project was announced in 2003.

March 17, 2005 Lamar Daily News
District Judge Douglas Tallman issued a ruling late yesterday finding that a petition submitted by the Concerned Citizens of Lamar (CCL) is valid. The petition seeks to amend the Lamar City Charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison could be built or operated in Lamar, or before the city could sell water or sewer services to a private prison or use city staff or resources in the recruitment of a prison. The CCL filed the petition last summer, seeking the election to amend the charter, but the Lamar City Council then filed an action in Prowers County District Court seeking a court opinion on whether the petition language violated the state's single subject rule in ballot initiatives. During oral arguments in the case in December, the two sides were at odds over whether the single subject rule applied to home rule cities, as well as to whether the language in the petition constituted multiple subjects. The filing of the lawsuit spurred complaints by the CCL that they were being sued for exercising their rights in the petition process, partially because of a clause in the original motion for declaratory judgment which could have allowed the court to award costs and fees, including any expert witness fees, to the city. The city claimed, however, that it was filing the court action to clarify the issue because the city would be faced with the burden of legally defending it if it were later challenged. In his ruling, Tallman noted that the single subject rule was intended to apply only to statewide issues, not to local or municipal issues, thus local issues are not required to conform to the single subject rule. "Had the legislature intended this requirement to encompass all initiatives, both local and statewide, it could have simply included such language in the enabling legislation," Tallman wrote. In a news release issued by the CCL this morning, Howard said she was happy with the decisions. "All we are trying to do is exercise our rights under Colorado's system of direct democracy," she said in the release. "The city disagreed with us, so they tried to stop us through intimidation."

February 24, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Members of a committee trying to recruit a privately owned prison to Lamar said Wednesday that although they remain firm in their resolve, they have decided to tone down their efforts. Lamar City Administrator Jeff Anderson said that the issue is currently at a standstill. Lamar Mayor Elwood Gillis said the project has been compromised because of a series of events including last year's riot at the privately owned Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. "That riot sparked an audit and a legislative review panel," Gillis said. Gillis said the committee has been receiving strong signals to step back and monitor the emerging changes in bed requirements, the potential changes in sentencing laws and the Department of Corrections funding for the coming fiscal year. Anderson said the decision to slow down efforts also gives the district court more time to look into a current lawsuit filed by the city asking for a ruling on the legality of a petition filed by prison opponents. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal, is seeking a vote on the issue and several related topics. City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court in August questioning if the petition has more than one subject. The case was brought before District Judge Douglas Tallman last December. He has not ruled on the matter.

December 17, 2004 Lamar Daily News
District Judge Douglas Tallman yesterday heard testimony in a Prowers County District Court action in which the City of Lamar is seeking a court opinion on whether a petition filed by the Concerned Citizens of Lamar (CCL) violates the state's single subject rule on ballot initiatives. The CCL filed the petition August 16 seeking an amendment to the Lamar City Charter that would call for a citizen vote before a privately owned prison could be built or operated in the community. But the petition seeks additional measures, including a citizen vote before the city could sell sewer and water services to a private prison located outside the city limits or before the city could use staff time or public funds in the recruitment or promotion of a prison. The city declined to approve the petition for circulation, however, after City Attorney Darla Scranton-Specht cited concerns that it may violate the state's single subject rule. The council later voted to authorize Specht to seek a declaratory judgment in district court - essentially an opinion from the judge on the issues.

December 17, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
Opponents of a proposed private prison packed a Prowers County courtroom Wednesday to protest the project. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal, is seeking a vote on the proposal and several related topics. However, city officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court in August asking for a ruling on the legality of the petition. The case was brought before Judge Douglas Tallman. He said that he will not rule on the matter until next year. Plans to build a 500- to 750-bed private prison in town have been hotly debated since the project was announced last year.

August 31, 2004 Lamar Daily News
The Concerned Citizens of Lamar has a submitted a response in Prowers County District Court to a legal action filed by the city of Lamar seeking a court opinion on the CCL's proposed petition calling for an amendment to the Lamar city charter. The CCL's proposed petition, submitted to the city August 16, seeks to amend the charter to require a citizen vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The petition also contains language prohibiting the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time in recruitment of a prison without a vote.  The Lamar City Council, however, voted to file the action in Prowers County District Court seeking a declaratory judgment as to whether Lamar is subject to the state's single subject rule for amendments, and whether the CCL's petition contains multiple subjects. The city also sought a stay in the ordinary five day time frame the city has to rule on the validity of the petition, and sought an opinion on whether the CCL must first file a notice of intent to circulate a petition before it can be submitted to the city. The city also requested the issue be heard before a jury.  In responding to the court action, the CCL's attorney, Stephen D. Harris of Colorado Springs, requested a speedy hearing as well as seeking summary dismissal of the city's action. A speedy hearing request would allow the Court to advance the issue on its calendar, and Harris requested the Court's earliest consideration of the issue.  Harris also seeks the Court to order the city clerk to issue a ruling in the August 16 petition immediately, saying the clerk has a right and responsibility to accept or reject on form only. 


August 27, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain

The fight over a proposed private prison has moved to the courtroom.  City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court seeking a ruling on the provisions of a second petition calling for a vote on the prison, filed by the Concerned Citizens of Lamar.  CCL, a recently formed nonprofit group, says that an issue of this importance should be decided by the voters.  CCL filed a second petition last week after its first petition was rejected in July, and after efforts failed to reach a compromise with the city that would have sent the measure to the ballot.  The defendants listed on the complaint are CCL members Verdell Howard, Wayne Stokke and Nancy Turner. Scranton-Specht said an answer to the complaint is due by Sept. 9.  "We are just a group of innocent people thinking that we have the right to petition our government, but we are finding out, I guess, that we don't have that right in Lamar," Howard said. "We will move forward from here."  (Pueblo Chieftain, August 27, 2004)

Las Animas, Colorado
CCA
February 8, 2002
Even before the January opening of a new 480-bed state prison in Trinidad, Colo., and a 127-bed detention facility in Akron, Colo., the four private, for-profit prisons in the state had 724 empty beds. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in Burlington, Walsenburg and Las Animas, Colo., had a total of 575 empty prison beds. Additionally, the private prison at Olney Springs, Colo., had 149 empty beds.   CCA acknowledged it has lost revenue because of the vacant beds. Last January, the private prisons had nearly 1,900 empty beds after the state transferred inmates to its new 2,447-bed facility at Sterling, Colo. It is state policy to keep as many state prisoners as possible in state prisons, rather than private ones. (Corrections Professional)  

Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center
Golden, Colorado
Youthtrack
January 1, 2003
Nearly two dozen juveniles housed at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center could face criminal charges after they barricaded themselves in the orientation building for about an hour Monday night.  The disturbance started about 11 p.m. when the boys began overturning bunk beds and breaking light fixtures.  The juveniles were housed in the 22-bed orientation building, one of the several dorm-style units.  While the campus is operated by the state, the orientation unit is operated by Youthtrack, a private company.  (Rocky Mountain News)

North Fork Correctional Facility
Sayre, Oklahoma
CCA

February 22, 2008 The Denver Channel
The Colorado Department of Corrections has sent two investigators to an Oklahoma prison to probe whether correctional officers staged ‘ultimate fights’ among prisoners and rewarded the fight's winner with a cell phone, corrections sources told CALL7 Investigators. The DOC inspector general's staff traveled this week to the privately owned North Folk Correctional Facility at Sayre, Okla., about 130 miles west of Oklahoma City, to investigate the complaint of ‘ultimate fighting,’ sources said. It was unclear Friday whether the details of the complaint have been substantiated. DOC Executive Director Ari Zavaras, in a phone conversation with CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski, confirmed investigators were sent out to Oklahoma. "There is an ongoing investigation and we do not comment until the investigation is complete," he told Kovaleski. The facility is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America and houses about 480 Colorado inmates on a contract basis. CCA also owns the Crowley County Correctional Facility, which came under DOC scrutiny in 2004 after a riot. The DOC report criticized the "lack of responsiveness" by private prison operators to state corrections officials. CCA also owns about 70 facilities nationwide, including four in Colorado. The Colorado facilities are Bent County Correctional Facility, Huerfano County Correctional Center, Kit Carson Correctional Center and the facility in Crowley County. DOC spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti declined to confirm any details but said introducing a cell phone into a correctional facility is a federal offense if it happened. CCA spokesman declined comment and directed questions to Sanguinetti.

October 28, 2007 The Daily Sentinel
Nearly 400 Colorado inmates being held at a Sayre, Okla., private prison have sued their prison warden in an attempt to return to Colorado. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, 34-year-old inmate Jeremy G. Gardner, a convicted thief, argues because his crime was committed in Colorado and he was convicted in Colorado, he should be imprisoned in Colorado. According to Beckham County, Okla., District Court records, at least 380 Colorado inmates have joined in his lawsuit against North Fork Correctional Facility Warden Fred Figueroa, filing nearly identical complaints with the county court between May 14 and Oct. 19. Colorado transferred 480 inmates, including Grand Junction man Stephen Dallas Peck, to the private prison in December 2006 and January 2007. Inmates’ families have since complained that the move was not only unfair but also hindered their abilities to help rehabilitate their relatives. Peck’s complaint, which mirrors that of his peers, argued he has committed no crimes in Oklahoma; therefore, he “has been deprived of all constitutional due process rights.” Peck argues that the contract the Colorado Department of Corrections entered into with the Corrections Corporation of America is illegal, and therefore moot. “(Figueroa) should be ordered to release the petitioner … due to his complete lack of authority to detain him,” Peck’s complaint states. Officials from the North Fork Correctional Facility could not be reached for comment last week. Beckham County Associate District Judge Doug Haught consolidated the inmates’ cases last week into a single case, “because the petitioners are located at the same confinement facility, and because of the similarity of claims, the court finds that consolidation is appropriate.” Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras, Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, are scheduled to visit the Oklahoma prison today and Monday. King and McFadyen have expressed interest in bringing Peck and his peer inmates home to Colorado. “With proper oversight, a private prison is a way of leveraging tax dollars, a way of having adequate bed space and so forth,” King said. “From a policy standpoint, that adequate supervision part, in my mind, means that those prisons are in Colorado, not in Oklahoma.”

October 15, 2007 Daily Sentinel
It has been months since Roger Peck has seen his son. A year ago, Peck and his wife, Millicent, twice a month were driving more than 400 miles from Grand Junction to see their son, 47-year-old Stephen Dallas Peck, at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. But when Peck and 479 other inmates were relocated in December and January to the privately owned North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., those visits ended. “It’s almost impossible for us to get to Oklahoma, and I’m sure we’re more capable than a lot of people that have loved ones in prison,” Roger Peck said. The retired couple said their contact with their son, who was sentenced in early 2004 to 18 years in prison for felony theft and methamphetamine possession, has become relegated to brief collect calls twice a month. The Colorado Department of Correction’s decision to ship its healthiest and best behaved inmates more than 300 miles southeast of Colorado’s closest prison in Trinidad, the Pecks said, is “completely opposite” the state’s goal of promoting prisoner wellness and reducing recidivism. “They skimmed the cream to start with. They took inmates who were in relatively good health and have no violent history and were not in there for violent crime,” Roger Peck said. “So they took the cream of the crop, so to speak, and sent them to this facility whose sole purpose in life is making money.” Without their support, the Pecks said, they fear how well their son will cope with his methamphetamine addiction, which also landed him in prison in 1997. Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said in an attempt to address some of the Peck family’s concerns, he and Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras are going to visit the North Fork Correctional Facility at the end of this month. King said after he met the Peck family earlier this year, he began to wonder if Colorado was abandoning its oversight responsibilities by shipping felons out of state. “I had some real concerns about us giving up our ability, in some ways, to have oversight of these people that are Colorado citizens,” King said. “Granted they’re felons, but they’re our felons, and we have a responsibility to make sure they’re doing their time in a safe environment.” King said “outsourcing our felons” removes them from the support network of friends and family they need to transition from their criminal lifestyles and addictions back to living normal lives. Zavaras said from a purely financial standpoint, private prisons — the six in Colorado and the North Fork Correctional Facility — are a cost-effective way to deal with Colorado’s exploding corrections population. According to Department of Corrections statistics, Colorado’s inmate population has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 13,242 inmates in 2006 to 22,424 inmates this year. Nearly 5,000 of Colorado’s inmates reside in private prisons. Zavaras said sending prisoners outside Colorado is neither ideal nor fair to the inmates, but it is necessary. “Managing prisoners out of state, quite frankly, is very, very difficult for us,” Zavaras said. “If we would have had in-state beds, we wouldn’t be out of state. We’re only there as a last resort.” He said there are plans to expand two existing private, in-state prisons. As soon as those expansions are completed, he said, “We will bring them back.” Zavaras said he plans to scrutinize the Sayre, Okla., prison during his and King’s Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 visits. He said during that time he will not only speak with Colorado inmates but look into the concerns of inmates’ families. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said that ideally Colorado would pull out of private prisons, whose missions are directly contrary to reducing recidivism. McFadyen, who has 12 state and federal prisons in her southern Colorado House district, said private facilities have no reason to attempt to reintegrate felons back into society. She said private facilities see felons as possible repeat customers, so they have no incentive to decrease recidivism. Removing inmates from Colorado, she said, is an even better way for private prisons to maintain demand for their beds. “Sending an inmate out of state is almost guaranteeing they’ll come back in the system because of the lack of support,” McFadyen said. “I don’t know how an inmate succeeds when they have no support from home.”

April 1, 2007 Denver Post
If Joe Nacchio ends up in the slammer, he'd better hope it's not one run by Corrections Corporation of America, though Qwest retirees just might feel particular glee at the thought of his working most of a day to pay for a roll of toilet paper. About 480 inmates from Colorado have been transferred to CCA's North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., since December, and they're finding that hard time is a lot harder in a prison run for profit. The inmates, all culled from state prisons based on their release dates, records for compliance and nonviolent prison histories, have been rewarded for their good behavior with lousy food, fewer visits from family members, limited access to phones, delays in mail service, a lack of access to Colorado law books and prices in the prison canteen that have been jacked up in some cases to three times those in Colorado institutions. "It seems like minor stuff to people outside of prison, but it's created a real powder keg," said Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Parents of inmates housed at Sayre have reported that a boycott of the commissary was organized as a prison protest, and when a guard was perceived to be harassing an inmate at lunch recently, the entire room stood in solidarity. They worry that tensions could erupt into a riot similar to what happened at the CCA prison in Crowley County in 2004. "The guys are really upset," said Tracy Masuga, whose son was transferred to Sayre in December. Among the recent price hikes at the canteen were: peanut butter that sold for $1.48 in January now going for $2.34, AIM toothpaste jumping from $1.45 to $2.23, raisin bran going from $2.99 to $4.75, and a 25-watt light bulb going from $1.20 to $3.69. In Colorado state prisons, peanut butter is $1.80, AIM toothpaste 95 cents, and banana nut granola (the closest thing to raisin bran on the commissary list) is $2.11. Toilet paper sells for 70 cents a roll in Sayre compared with 44 cents at state-run prisons. "This might not seem like much, but we're talking about people who make literally a dollar a day," said Ann Aber, an attorney with the Colorado Public Defender's office. "It's arbitrary and inexplicable exercises of power like this that can create a really incendiary situation." Alison Morgan, chief of private prisons for the Department of Corrections, said a team from Colorado visited the Sayre facility this month and talked to about 200 inmates. Complaints about the price hikes were rampant, she said, but she insisted that the prisoners' concerns were being addressed. "The warden is looking at the commissary list and has reduced prices for about 40 items, including the price of light bulbs," she said. Steve Owen, spokesman for CCA, said that after a brief drop in purchases from the canteen around March 9, sales have returned to normal. Gary Golder, director of prisons for the DOC, said CDs of Colorado statutes are on order for use in the Sayre prison library, but delivery by the vendor has been delayed. Problems with phones, mail service and other issues will be resolved, Morgan said. As for the food, which was described as inedible by inmates two months ago and resulted in many of them reporting significant weight loss, Morgan describes it now as "fabulous." "The previous food-service manager was fired." State Rep. Buffie McFadyen said she has heard some of the complaints, and while she is concerned, focusing on things like commissary prices and phone service ignores the larger issue. "They shouldn't be there at all," said the Democrat from Pueblo West. "Sending inmates out of state is almost guaranteeing a 100 percent recidivism rate," said McFadyen, who has eight state prisons in her district. "We're taking the inmates with the best track records within our system and punishing them by sending them out of state away from their families. When inmates don't have that support system in place to help them re-enter society, it almost guarantees failure." McFadyen said this is all part of the private-prison system's business plan. "High recidivism rates ensure profits for their stockholders," she said. "There's no incentive to do what's best for inmates. They profit by having them come back into the system." Owen called such criticism "completely false." "We invest a great deal in innovative programs to rehabilitate inmates," he said. "We consider ourselves professionals." CCA receives $54 per day per Colorado inmate. The cost to keep comparable inmates in state institutions is $77 per day, Morgan said. Even at 30 percent less per inmate, CCA has delivered impressive profits to shareholders. The company racked up $105.2 million in net income in 2006. How do they do it? "The private-prison industry makes its money out of bodies and souls," McFadyen said.

September 16, 2006 The Gazette
The Colorado Department of Corrections is preparing to send as many as 1,000 inmates out of state — probably to two private lockups in Oklahoma — to alleviate crowding in state prisons. Alison Morgan, head of the DOC’s private-prison monitoring unit, would not discuss the department’s timetable for moving the inmates. Last month, she visited two Oklahoma prisons, the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton and the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, and she is in negotiations with the companies that run them. “Going out of state is inevitable,” she said Friday. The DOC has been warning lawmakers for months that it will soon run out of space, the result of longer sentences, a growing population and a multiyear budget crisis that canceled building projects. New private prisons to hold 3,776 inmates have been approved, and officials this year expressed optimism to the General Assembly that they could handle the state’s caseload by double-bunking inmates and finding unused space until the new prisons are built. It will be the first time since the mid-1990s that Colorado has sent a large number of inmates out of state. In 2004, 121 high-security inmates with gang affiliations were sent to a prison in Mississippi, but officials brought them back a year later after they were involved in a riot there.

October 13, 2003 Nearly 1,000 criminals were hauled away from here this summer, all of them incarcerated convicts, never to return. It pained nearly everyone to see them go. The exodus from this remote western Oklahoma town took with it about 225 jobs and a third of the government's revenues after a furor over the cost of inmates' phone calls led to the closing of a prison. "It's a huge blow," said Elaine Barker, the city clerk. With the prisoners gone, the operating budget this year has been chopped by a third to $2.7 million, Ms. Barker said. Plans for a new City Hall have been halted indefinitely. The city has put off renovating an old building for the Police and Fire Departments and constructing a 60-unit apartment complex to relieve the acute housing shortage. Hiring has stopped. One of five water department jobs has been cut. With nothing to build, the city construction manager has been let go. The job of economic development director has been eliminated. The city had budgeted for a full-time treasurer to succeed the part-time treasurer, who retired, but now Ms. Barker has inherited those duties. After a heady run of rebuilding and face-lifting, Sayre, about 120 miles west of Oklahoma City, is at a dead stop, all because of the collapse of its primary economic engine: a five-year-old, $35 million, red-roofed, gray-walled, privately run medium-security prison, the North Fork Correctional Facility. Over the summer, the prison management company, the Corrections Corporation of America, sent the 989 inmates, all from Wisconsin, to another of its facilities, 100 miles northeast of Sayre. Now the state-of-the-art prison in Sayre languishes in its prairie-grass setting. Sayre's travails arose from the loss of commissions it had received on prisoners' collect, long-distance telephone calls home to Wisconsin. Their families each paid about $22 for 20 minutes. Sayre collected up to 42 percent, and the contractor, AT&T, took the rest. For the fiscal year that ended in June, Sayre's share amounted to $656,000, close to the entire city budget in the years just before the prison opened. "We got ourselves into a situation where we were unable to control the outcome," Jack W. Ivester, the mayor and a lawyer, said. "Looking back, there were a couple of road signs that we missed." Sayre, population 4,114 before the inmates left, is one of about 200 rural communities in the nation, many ravaged by population declines and the loss of farms, factories and mines, that brought in prisons to bolster their economies during the 1990's. Swallowing fears about the proximity of criminals, the towns tapped into a growing population of prisoners and a shortage of prisons in many states. "To my mind," Jack McKennon, the city manager of Sayre, said two years ago while the town prospered, "there's no more recession-proof form of economic development." But in some states, growth in the number of prisoners has stalled, and some are opening new prisons so they won't have to send inmates elsewhere. Burned, Mr. McKennon says now, "It's just like a manufacturing plant that says they're going to move to China or Mexico." For a couple of years, Wisconsin pressed the corrections company, based in Nashville, for lower telephone rates. But the company, which had no say about the contract that would not expire until next November, deferred to Sayre and AT&T. City officials say that they tried to renegotiate it but that AT&T declined. "The rates we charge are no higher in Oklahoma than anywhere else," a spokesman for AT&T, Kerry Hibbs, said. The corrections company, faced with losing its contract to house the Wisconsin prisoners, moved the men to its prison in Watonga, Okla., where it holds the telephone contract and can meet the Wisconsin limit of about $8 for a 20-minute call. Sayre officials said that six and seven years ago, during the discussions about building a prison, no one — not they, the corrections company or the state of Wisconsin — raised doubts about charging inmates much higher rates than consumers pay. The fees were high, Ms. Barker said, "but in defense of the city, the contract was in place when Wisconsin signed the contract with C.C.A. to house their prisoners here." Still, Mayor Ivester said, "when Wisconsin prisoners went to Sayre, we started getting complaints." "When we received those complaints," he continued, "we conveyed them to AT&T, and that's where I think the problem was. AT&T was inflexible. On two occasions, the city went to AT&T and said, `You need to accommodate the rates with the complaints from Wisconsin.' "In both cases we were rebuffed," the mayor said. "The answer was no. A third time we went to C.C.A. and said, `We've tried. You talk to them.' C.C.A. experienced the same inflexibility we did." Bill Clausius, the spokesman for the Wisconsin prison department, said the state repeatedly pressed the corrections company to bring rates down to $1.25 to connect and 22 cents per minute, well below the Sayre rate of $3.95 to connect and 89 cents a minute. Mr. Hibbs at AT&T said: "We find it hard to believe that they would shut down the prison over telephone rates. We had no interest in shutting the prison down." Ms. Barker said, "AT&T wanted us to buy out the contract for a price of $850,000, which was way above our means." With the corrections company looking more and more determined to move the men, AT&T let Sayre out of the contract in late June at no cost to the city and washed its hands of further business here. In a statement then, AT&T said, "We wish Sayre well in finding a new phone service provider for its prison and hope that the facility and accompanying jobs will be saved." But by then Wisconsin and the corrections company had had enough, and the vans to Watonga were rolling. "Everyone tried to get those rates lowered," said Louise Green, vice president for marketing at the corrections company. "It was not done." Sayre and the corrections company, both with big stakes in the prison here, are seeking a new customer. Once they have one, Sayre could resume collecting water and sewer fees from the prison and a sales tax from the prison commissary but much less from the telephone calls. To avoid another closing, Ms. Barker said, "we're negotiating with different phone companies, and we've got some really nice proposals." Mostly, though, they would be nicer for prisoners. "It would cut our income tremendously," she said. (The New York Times)

Pueblo Halfway House
CCSI
May 3, 2013 www.koaa.com

PUEBLO - Using trash bags and cardboard boxes, around 60 men living at Pueblo's Community Corrections Services Incorporated packed up their belongings Friday morning and moved to another facility to serve out their time. "All they did was gave them a bags and said pack up, yous are leaving," Denise Sierra said. Her son was serving a sentence CCSI and she said the suddeness of the move jarred her. "They should tell the community what's really going on, everybody needs to know." Former Pueblo City Councilman Al Gurule has owned CCSI for 27 years. He's turning 70 in a few weeks and told us it was time to move on. He decided not to renew his contract with the state when it expires June 30. "I wish that we could've had a pizza party or something, you know, on the way out, but it doesn't work that way with parole officers," Gurule said. The timing of the move is curious. Back on April 1, offender Jamie Salazar walked away from the facility. According to the arrest warrant, witnesses told the police the 32-year old Salazar got drunk and raped and beat his girlfriend three times that day. Deonte Smith of CCSI reported Salazar's escape and a warrant was issued. Salazar was taken into custody after returning to facility the next morning. Salazar had been serving an 8 year sentence for a domestic violence conviction in El Paso County and a 3 year sentence for a drug possession conviction from Las Animas County. Gurule said the closing of the facility and the rape aren't connected. "I would say that, you know, there's always security issues, you know, but there's nothing that we egregious or anything like that from my perspective," he said. The Colorado Department of Corrections issued the following explanation regarding the CCSI closure. Al Gurule, the owner of Community Corrections Services (CCSI), Inc has worked cooperatively with the Division of Criminal Justice within the Department of Public Safety, the Colorado Department of Corrections and Probation Service within the Judicial Department regarding the operational issues at the facility. With the operating contract set to expire June 30, it was determined that the best option for public safety and offender management was to move the residents to other community settings as soon as that can be arranged. In cooperation with Mr. Gurule and his staff at CCSI, the residents of CCSI were all moved this morning, May 3, 2013 to other community programs. CCSI is one of three community corrections programs in Pueblo. The state agencies involved were the Department of Corrections, the Colorado State Judicial Department Probation Services, and the Division of Criminal Justice. "Community corrections is an importance piece of the criminal justice system. It provides a meaningful alternative to prison for individuals who are able to work and live in the community, but still need a higher level of supervision and accountability," said Jeanne Smith, Director Division of Criminal Justice, Department of Public Safety. "CCSI has filed an important role for Pueblo and the rehabilitation of offenders. Mr. Gurule and his staff have been dedicated to this effort for many years." Salazar is being held on $150,000 bond at the Pueblo County Jail. He is expected to appear in court on Monday.

Phoenix Center
Adams County, Colorado
Avalon Correctional Services Systems Inc.
May 23, 2002
Adams County will approve a new community corrections contract, despite one commissioner's concern about the escape of a sex offender from a halfway house. Commissioner Marty Flaum balked at approving the contract last week after learning that John Martinez, 19, had walked away from Phoenix House. Martinez was being held for attempted sexual assault on a minor and attempted menacing. Flaum said a sex offender belongs in prison, not in a halfway house. After the meeting, Flaum said he will vote to approve the new contract with the Colorado Department of Corrects, which provides $120,000 to keep several inmates in halfway houses who are making the transition from prison to freedom. But he is still convinced the Martinez case was mishandled. Even if Martinez thought the girl was 16, there is still the matter of waving the knife at the girl's father, Flaum said. "This guy probably isn't going to commit another sex offense -- he's going to stab someone," Flaum said. Of 29 prisoners who have walked away from halfway houses in Adams County this year, 24 have been caught, Phoenix House director Samantha Novatne said. (Rocky Mountain News)

May 16, 2002
Adams County commissioners balked Wednesday at approving a contract to put more offenders in a private community corrections program that lost a convicted child molester. Since July at least 29 inmates have walked away from facilities operated by a local subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Avalon Correctional Services Systems Inc., according to county records. The last straw for Adams County Commissioner Marty Flaum was news that John Martinez, convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child, walked away Monday from Phoenix Center, the company's male facility. "We get these all the time," County Commissioner Marty Flaum said of the notice that Martinez had fled. "I don't know how many of these I read. What are we going to do to lock these people up?" The news came as commissioners were preparing to approve a $120,000 contract with the Colorado Department of Corrections to house additional inmates at the company's facilities who are making the transition from prison to freedom. Flaum asked that the contract be pulled from the agenda. Instead, commissioners will call a study session on community corrections, probably next week. (Rocky Mountain News)  

Pueblo
Pueblo, Colorado
GEO Group
March 6, 2007 Greeley Tribune
Saying GEO Group Inc. can't be trusted, a Pueblo lawmaker asked state officials Monday to rescind a contract with the company to build a private prison in Ault. Plans for the prison, which would house 1,500 inmates and would be built east of the railroad tracks along U.S. 85, has stalled on two fronts. Ault leaders decided they would not approve the facility until the public voted on it, and GEO wants to change its contract to ensure payment for its beds. Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, a vocal critic of private prisons, said Monday that the proposed change and other issues regarding GEO's integrity should negate the Ault contract. “Anybody living in Ault should be concerned that a company that would bid this way on a contract might have a business in their town," she said. Philip Tidwell, spokesman for the town group Coalition Against Ault Prison, said residents hope no one else bids on the Ault prison if GEO's contract is rescinded. "We just do not want any private prison, whether it be GEO or Cornell or anyone else," he said. A spokesman for GEO did not return calls seeking comment. McFadyen said the company is attempting to do the same things in Ault that derailed plans for a GEO facility in Pueblo. In 2003, GEO won a contract for a 1,100-bed, pre-parole and parole revocation facility in Pueblo, and after almost four years of delays, the state pulled the contract last fall. The company never broke ground on the facility. "The state of Colorado was held hostage for four years waiting for those beds," McFadyen said. The delays included zoning issues in Pueblo and GEO's attempt to obtain guaranteed payments on 90 percent of its beds, regardless of whether the beds were occupied. That is something state leaders have opposed and which may even be impossible because of state laws, McFadyen said. Now, GEO is trying for guaranteed bed payments in Ault, she said. "You have to question the integrity of the 2006 bid," she said. "If past performance is an indicator, I suspect we will be in the same place we were in 2003 in Pueblo." McFadyen said Ari Zavaras, the new director of the Department of Corrections, told her he is opposed to bed guarantees. Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan told the Associated Press that Zavaras will review McFadyen's request and decide how to respond. The story of Ault's possible prison goes back to late 2005, when Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for the Department of Corrections, started working with GEO on a bid for a private prison. Renfrow is under investigation for using state sick leave to obtain the Ault contract on behalf of GEO. On Monday, Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government, a watchdog group, filed an open records request about the Ault bid. "We do not feel that the public's interest was put forth in the procurement of this contract," said Chantelle Taylor, spokeswoman for the watchdog group. A state audit found Renfrow's business activities "arguably present a conflict of interest and result in a breach of ... the public trust." That breach, coupled with GEO's attempt to change its Pueblo contract by adding the bed-payment guarantee, should have prevented the company from getting the Ault bid in the first place, McFadyen said. Tidwell agreed. "One thing the state should recognize is (GEO) did not operate fairly," he said. "They hired an insider knowing he worked for the state. In my mind, GEO has shown itself to be not a company that operates fairly in the state of Colorado.

January 31, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is taking over the probe of a retired state prison official who stands to be paid $1 million for helping a private prison company win a state bid. Nolin Renfrow, former state prisons director, openly became a consultant to the Geo Group and helped it win a $14 million- per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison proposed in Ault. A state audit said Renfrow began the work for Geo while still on the state payroll. It also said that he is to collect a $1 million fee if the prison is built. State employees are prohibited from providing paid assistance to anyone to win state contracts or economic benefits. State law also prohibits activities that constitute a conflict of interest. Ari Zavaras, who became prisons chief with the new administration several weeks ago, said he asked the CBI to take over the investigation to "overcome the perception that it won't be a thorough investigation." Renfrow said Tuesday, "I understand why he would do that, and I just hope it comes to quick resolution." The Department of Corrections had been investigating. Its report was to have been given to prosecutors if warranted. Zavaras said he is letting the CBI decide whether the probe will become a criminal investigation.

December 16, 2006 The Gazette
State prison officials have canceled a contract for a new private prison in Pueblo, a move that casts doubt on how much Colorado will be able to rely on private prisons while it copes with a crowding crisis. The GEO Group, which was awarded a contract in 2003 to build the Pueblo pre-release prison, has also been contracted to build and operate a prison in Ault, in northeastern Colorado. But the same issue that doomed the Pueblo project — the company’s insistence it be guaranteed nearly full occupancy — could derail the latter prison, because GEO is making a similar demand. “If GEO’s going to demand a bed guarantee, they need to leave the state,” said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, a Pueblo Democrat and leading critic of private prisons. “It is not the job of the Colorado taxpayers to ensure profits for this corporation.” The Pueblo prison was delayed repeatedly: by zoning issues, by a legal challenge from a prison-reform group and by several revisions to the plan by GEO. But the final impasse began this summer, when the company asked for a 90 percent minimum occupancy guarantee for the prison, which wasn’t a condition of the original proposal and was opposed by Department of Corrections officials. Private prisons are paid a daily rate per inmate by the state, currently $52. Last month, the DOC denied a contract-extension request, and on Thursday informed the company that it was canceling the contract. “Ground has not broken, and GEO has given no indication when, or even if, it plans to commence construction,” DOC executive director Joe Ortiz wrote. “Our patience cannot be infinite.” The department is facing an acute crowding problem. Years of canceled prison-construction projects and steady growth in court caseloads have created a shortage of prison beds. The DOC this week began shipping 720 inmates out of state, a temporary solution until new beds become available. With only one state prison under construction, Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City, the DOC this year awarded contracts to three companies to build prisons for 3,776 inmates. The GEO Group’s proposed 1,500-bed prison in Ault is a major part of the plan. Alison Morgan, head of private-prison monitoring for the DOC, said the department still expects GEO to follow through on its proposal in Ault. “We are treating the Pueblo facility and the Ault facility separately. We have from Day 1, and we will continue to do so,” Morgan said Friday. However, GEO is making the same demand for guaranteed occupancy for the Ault prison. Asked whether the DOC is still opposed to a guarantee, she said, “It is a policy decision to be addressed by the new administration (of Gov.-elect Bill Ritter) and the General Assembly.” The local community isn’t even sure it wants a prison. Ault’s town board last month passed an ordinance requiring voter approval for the prison. No election date has been set. McFadyen said she doesn’t believe GEO ever intended to complete the Pueblo prison, and she doubts the company’s ability and will to follow through in Ault. “We’ve been set back three years in our planning,” McFadyen said. “I think that kind of delay is unacceptable, and we’ll learn from this experience and not allow another contract to drag on for three years.” A call to a spokesman in the company’s Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters was not returned Friday afternoon. An audit requested by Mc-Fadyen regarding the bidding process for the Ault prison was released this week. It showed that a top DOC official set up a consulting business to help GEO win the bid while he was employed by the state. Because the DOC is based in Colorado Springs, the office of 4th Judicial District Attorney John Newsome will receive the results of the investigation and determine whether any law was broken. Morgan said the DOC will issue a new request for proposals for a pre-release prison.

December 16, 2006 ABC 7 News
The state has cut off negotiations and rescinded a contract with developers planning to build a private prison in Pueblo. Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Joe Ortiz sent a letter Friday to the GEO Group, ending six months of negotiations. The letter cites numerous delays and unresolved issues and says the department has run out of patience with the developers. The Florida-based GEO Group had been working for about four years to build the 1,000-bed prison near the Pueblo Memorial Airport industrial park. Construction never got under way. The prison would have been for pre-parole prisoners and prisoners who had seen their parole status revoked. GEO bought about 36 acres for the facility last year, but negotiations with the state broke down over the company's demand that the DOC guarantee 90 percent occupancy and grant a 30-year contract. GEO operates private detention centers in 15 states and one Canadian province as well as in South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom. The Pueblo facility is one of two the company was planning in Colorado. The company's Web site also indicates GEO in 2003 was awarded a contract to develop a 1,000-bed immigration detention facility in the Denver suburb of Aurora. A DOC spokeswoman says the department will put the Pueblo proposal back up for bid, with no promise the facility will still be built in Pueblo.

December 14, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A three-year effort to build a private prison facility at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park appears to be dead after the Colorado Department of Corrections and the prison company reached an impasse over guaranteed occupancies. On Tuesday, reports said that the DOC was working with the attorney general's office to draft a letter to the GEO Group that essentially kills the company's plans to build a 1,000-bed pre-parole and parole revocation facility on 36 acres east of the city. GEO officials said Wednesday they had not received any letter from the DOC, but also didn't express much confidence a deal could be struck for the facility. "We have been in negotiations with the Department of Corrections, but we don't have any contract signed and at this time it does not appear there will be one," said Pablo Paez, director of communications for the Florida-based company. Paez confirmed reports from November that the company was asking for a minimum occupancy guarantee for the facility and also confirmed that the company was planning to go to the city of Pueblo for help to build the prison. ± PLEASE SEE PRISON, 2APRISON / continued from page 1A ± "We needed the guarantee to secure the lowest capital cost through tax-exempt bonds," Paez said Thursday. "We would get those through the local municipality." State Rep. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who has been a vocal critic of the private prison industry, and state Rep. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, wrote a letter to the city in May warning against using public funds to build the facility. "I think it's very positive that the city of Pueblo is not going to risk its credit rating on this project," McFadyen said Wednesday. Officials from the DOC were not available Wednesday to comment on whether the letter had to do with the occupancy guarantees, or the result of an audit suggesting former Director of Prisons Nolin Renfrow may have broken the law by helping GEO secure DOC approval to build a 1,500-bed facility in Weld County, prior to his retirement in January. Paez said GEO had no contact with Renfrow before March. Last month, DOC spokeswoman Kathy Church told The Pueblo Chieftain that talks between the company and the DOC over Pueblo's facility had stalled over the minimum occupancy guarantees and had reached a critical point. "They need to either understand our position and accept it or back out completely," Church said last month. Church told The Chieftain that the DOC couldn't make any guarantees without knowing how much money it had to spend. That money depends on what the joint budget committee decides. McFadyen wondered Wednesday why those guarantees weren't part of the original agreement when DOC solicited bids for the Pueblo project. "If the DOC negotiated additional terms with GEO, they would be the only private prison company to receive such treatment and that's wrong," McFadyen said Wednesday. "I think this goes to the point of how committed they were to coming to Pueblo in the first place." The plans to build the facility started in 2003 when GEO, then Wakenhut Corrections Company, proposed building the prison on the West Side. Those plans eventually shifted to the airport and the city approved a controversial agreement with GEO to build a 500- to 1,000-bed facility. A year ago, GEO bought the property at the airport from the city for $296,800. GEO's original plan was to build a 750-bed facility at the airport, but got Planning and Zoning Approval in May to expand the facility to 1,000 beds.

December 14, 2006 Denver Post
Results of an investigation into former Colorado prisons director Nolin Renfrow's conduct in office will be turned over to a district attorney early next year, the Department of Corrections' inspector general said Wednesday. Michael Rulo, who has been the agency's inspector general for seven years, said his office has been cooperating with state auditors on the probe. On Tuesday, the auditors announced that a "former senior- level official" of the Department of Corrections launched a prison-consulting business in August 2005, five months before he retired from the department Jan. 31, and helped a private company land a state prison contract. State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who requested the audit, identified the official as Renfrow. The auditors found that while still employed by DOC, Renfrow began working to assist prospective bidders in developing proposals to his department for a private prison. With his assistance, a company identified as the GEO Group was awarded the contract for a 1,500-bed private prison at Ault. Auditors noted that state employees are barred by law from outside employment that creates a conflict of interest, and from helping people to win a contract with their agency for a fee. Renfrow couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. Rulo said the results of his office's investigation will be turned over to El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome, probably in January. The Department of Corrections is based in that county. Rulo said a decision on whether to file charges will be a "collaborative process" with prosecutors. Kristen Holtzman, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said that Renfrow never contacted the attorney general's office to ask whether his consulting business while still a DOC employee constituted a conflict of interest.

December 13, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A former top official for the Colorado Department of Corrections may have broken the law when he helped a private prison company win a state contract earlier this year, an audit revealed Tuesday. Though the report conducted by the state auditor doesn't name him, the audit centered on Nolin Renfrow, former director of prisons for DOC. It even calls on the department's inspector general to further investigate the matter and, if warranted, refer it for possible prosecution. The audit, which was requested by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, showed that before Renfrow retired in January, he had been working with a Florida-based private prison company, GEO Group, to land a DOC contract to build a 1,500-bed prison in Weld County. That project is expected to cost an estimated $100 million, for which Renfrow was to get a 1 percent fee - or $1 million - for helping Weld County get the contract, the audit said. In 2003, GEO, which is based in Baca Raton, Fla., was awarded a contract to build a 500-bed, prerelease prison near Pueblo Memorial Airport, which still hasn't been built. Renfrow's replacement, Gary Golder, says the department currently is working with the Attorney General's Office on a letter to GEO that effectively would revoke the 2003 bid and end the Pueblo project. Though the audit did not find any evidence that Renfrow disclosed confidential information to GEO to help it win the Weld County bid, he may have violated state laws, personnel rules and department regulations regarding outside employment, the audit said. Neither Renfrow nor GEO officials were available for comment. The audit found that prior to Renfrow's retirement on Jan. 31, he filed articles of incorporation for a private prison consulting firm, Patriot Business Solutions, in August 2005. "Public records and interviews indicate that the former employee began actively working on behalf of his prison consulting business as of November 2005," the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided documentation showing that the employee requested or the department approved the former employee's outside employment." The contract was awarded to GEO in June, along with a separate contract to Corrections Corporation of America to expand two of its existing private prisons - in Bent and Kit Carson counties - by 720 beds. DOC time sheets also showed that Renfrow "used a combination of annual, sick and holiday leave" to remain on extended paid leave from November 2005 until his retirement date, the audit said. "Neither the department nor the former employee provided evidence that (Renfrow) received the express consent of his attending physician or appointing authority to engage in outside work activities," the audit said. "As a result, we question the former employee's use of about 240 hours of paid sick leave benefits valued at about $14,000." McFadyen began to question Renfrow's involvement immediately after GEO won the contract. The Pueblo West lawmaker, a longtime critic of private prisons, questioned why such a company would be awarded a new bid before it had made any progress on the Pueblo prison. McFadyen also questioned why the department was even considering a GEO request, which was made after winning the bid, to give it a written guarantee that the new beds would be filled, something the state has never provided to any of the five other existing private prisons in the state. "I am still questioning the Colorado Department of Corrections as to why GEO was allowed to bid another (project) when they have not performed on the original 2003 project," McFadyen said. "GEO Corporation is demanding that the state issue a mandatory guarantee of filling beds. It is not the responsibility of Colorado taxpayers to ensure the profits of this corporation. "There's no question that we're being held hostage by GEO Group when other (private prison) vendors probably would like to come in and bid those contracts," she added.

December 13, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
A retired state prison official stands to be paid $1 million - and possibly face criminal charges - for helping a private prison company win a state bid while he was still working for the state. A state audit released Tuesday cited a possible conflict of interest. The audit does not name the official, but the audit was aimed at Nolin Renfrow, former state prisons director. And the document describes work he openly undertook for the Geo Group. Renfrow helped Geo win a $14 million-per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison it proposed building in Ault. Renfrow helped Geo write its bid and spoke with Ault officials on Geo's behalf, said officials and Renfrow last spring. On Tuesday, Renfrow did not return a call for comment. The audit said the official may have violated two state laws. One prohibits state employees from providing paid assistance to anyone to win state contracts or economic benefits. The other prohibits activities that constitute a conflict of interest with their duties as state employees. The audit cleared the official of using insider knowledge to help Geo win the bid. But it said that if the prison is built, Geo will pay the official a $1 million fee. The official started working as a consultant on the deal before he retired this year, the audit said. During his final three months on the job, the official used six weeks of sick leave, valued at $14,000, without any proof that he was sick. The Department of Corrections has launched an investigation as a result of the audit. If warranted, the department will refer its findings to local prosecutors, said Gary Golder, Renfrow's replacement as state director of prisons. Golder said the laws cited by the auditor do not carry specific penalties. He speculated that if charges are filed, they might be for malfeasance or official misconduct. When the audit began in June, Renfrow told a reporter he had run operations for existing prisons and that he had no role in writing the state's bid request that he later helped Geo win. He also said then that the state attorney general's office had ruled that his work on the deal was not a conflict of interest. However, the audit found no evidence that he requested or received the required state approval for his outside work.

December 12, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
The state Department of Corrections is seeking $500 million to build new prisons for more than 5,000 more inmates over the next five years. The request for new spending is being driven by a huge increase in prisoners and rising financial demands from private prisons. One, the Geo Group, is demanding a $1 billion revenue guarantee before going ahead with two prisons that it is under contract to build for Colorado in Pueblo and Ault. Prisons chief Gary Golder said he is waiting for the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Bill Ritter to decide whether the state should provide any such guarantee. Meanwhile, a former state prison official, Nolin Renfrow, is being investigated for working on behalf of Geo to win the second of those private prison contracts while still a state employee. Golder said the results of the administrative investigation may be referred to prosecutors for possible criminal charges. He wasn't sure what could be charged. He said it might be considered malfeasance. Renfrew stands to be paid $1 million by Geo for his work if its second prison in Ault is built. But meanwhile, the state is moving to yank Geo's first prison contract, for Pueblo, because Geo has still not broken ground.

July 20, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
With political contributions totaling more than $100,000, Sheriff Dan Corsentino is easily the most prosperous among local candidates, according to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Pueblo County clerk. His Democratic party challenger, Kirk Taylor, reported contributions of just less than $20,000. Corsentino also received $2,500 from the GEO Group, the company proposing to build a private prison in Pueblo; $2,000 from two executives of Spillman Technologies, a company that manufactures law enforcement computer software; and several contributions totaling $16,250 from the DeRose family and associated businesses.

May 11, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
In a contentious meeting, the Pueblo Planning and Zoning Commission continued a hearing on the development plans for a private prison near the Pueblo Memorial Airport. GEO Group, the company that plans to build the facility, submitted a new plan for the building that doubles the size and the number of beds at what it characterizes as a pre-parole and parole revocation facility, where most of the inmates would be serving the final few months of their sentences. GEO already owns the land, and the original contract with the city allows the company to build a 1,000-bed facility. But commission members Rod Johnson and Jean Latka objected to what they characterized as a substantial change from the original 500-bed facility the board approved last September. "I'm sorry this got approved to begin with," Johnson said Wednesday. "And I believe it's destined to come unwound. Mark my word, this is going to be trouble. No one is happy about it and now they want to double the size which is something we can't control. I think it is a mistake." The commission voted 4-2 to continue the item to next month's meeting. It's official reasons were to get more input on matters of the building's architecture, lighting, parking, water use, road improvements and landscaping. But the delay is as much about giving area residents and others who voiced opposition to the original project a chance to have their voices heard. Johnson initially moved to extend it for those reasons, but withdrew his motion after it was determined that the commission could focus only on issues relative to the actual site plan for the building. Prior to Johnson's first motion, he said he had a conversation Wednesday with someone in law enforcement who did not know the project was before the commission. Based on that testimony, GEO's representative, Frank Lauer, asked that Johnson recuse himself from the vote to continue. Johnson did not do so. Much of the discussion focused on the doubling of the facility's size and beds. But the Planning Commission has no authority over that. Council has already approved the project. The zoning is in place and GEO has already purchased the property from the city. From a bureaucratic standpoint, the project has been approved. The only thing left is an endorsement of the new site plan. Commission Chairman David Lytle and City Council representative Gilbert Ortiz voted against the continuance.

May 10, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
THE JURY is still out on construction of a private prison in Pueblo, but one thing is certain: By no means should the city even entertain the idea of issuing municipal revenue bonds to finance the project. Two area legislators Ñ Rep. Buffie McFadyen of Pueblo West and Sen. Abel Tapia of Pueblo Ñ recently sent a letter to City Manager Dave Galli, warning against the use of public funds for a private company. Rep. McFadyen hit the mark when she said the city’s credit rating would be at risk if the firm, GEO, were to default. Mr. Galli said the city has made no commitment of public funds, although it has had informal discussions about how GEO will pay for construction of a prison. That’s not nearly good enough. Members of the City Council must rule out completely the notion of financing a private prison. Nip it in the bud, right here and now.

May 7, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
The company planning to build a private prison at Pueblo Memorial Airport has a new design for the facility, but state lawmakers are more concerned with the company's ability to pay for it. Last September, GEO Inc., formerly Wackenhut, won approval of its development plan for a 700- to 1,000-bed facility to house inmates finishing the last few months of their sentences. At the time, the Pueblo Planning and Zoning Commission approved a 100,000-square-foot facility on 40 acres of land near Pueblo Memorial Airport which GEO bought from the city. GEO has also cleared regulatory hurdles with the Federal Aviation Administration to build the facility. However, the original design has been altered and under the city's zoning codes, GEO must come back to the commission with any changes to the facility, said Jerry Pacheco, city land use administrator. "The original plans had one, big rectangular building," Pacheco said. "This one has pods and wings to it." It also pushes the limits of what is allowed under the original agreement. Pacheco said the facility will have 1,024 beds, but the size of the facility has nearly doubled. GEO will have a full presentation at the commission meeting Wednesday. Last September, construction was expected to be completed this winter. It seems clear that won't happen, but state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, and state Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, are concerned about the possibility GEO may come to the city for financial help to build the prison. The Pueblo lawmakers sent a letter to City Manager David Galli on May 2 warning that using public funding, particularly revenue bonds, to help the private company build its prison is a risky proposition. "Under no circumstances should revenue bonds or any other municipal bonds be issued for private business operators," the letter said. McFadyen is an outspoken critic of private prisons, but she said Friday her concern has more to do with the potential damage to the city's credit rating. "What happens if they default? It literally puts the city's credit rating in the tank," McFadyen said. It would also put state lawmakers in an awkward position, she said. "As vice chairman of the joint budget committee and the vice chairman of the capital development committee, we have the most direct contact with the state's budget and capital concerns," McFadyen and Tapia wrote. "If for some reason the state of Colorado cannot or chooses not to appropriate funds for this facility and the bonds go into default, the city of Pueblo and our constituents carry the burden." Galli said this week that the city has made no commitment to use any public funds to help finance the prison, though there have been informal discussions about how the company will pay for it. Galli said if the discussions move into any formal phase it is likely they will take place in executive session, but the City Council will have to bring any decision it makes to a public hearing.

March 1, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
In other matters, council members approved without comment a lobbying contract for former U.S. Rep. Ray Kogovsek. Kogovsek will be paid $2,500 a month plus travel expenses to represent the city in Congress and help city officials meet with federal officials. Kogovsek, who recently quit lobbying for Pueblo County, also represents the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District for $5,000 a month to work on federal water issues. He also represents several other Colorado water groups. The city had previously employed Kogovsek as a lobbyist, but Kogovsek had to drop the $5,000-a-month contract when the city's water issues conflicted with those of the conservancy district. City Manager Dave Galli said he didn't see a problem with Kogovsek's ongoing work for the private prison company GEO Group Inc. The company wants to build a private prison at the city's airport industrial park. Galli said there was no conflict of interest because council already approved all the prison related issues.

January 14, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
GEO Group Inc. hopes to have its new 700- to 1,000-bed prison completed at Pueblo's Airport Industrial Park by mid-2006, if the permit and construction process stays on schedule, a company official said Thursday. The private prison company is awaiting word from the Federal Aviation Administration that its plans to build the prison at the east end of the industrial park will not conflict with the operation of the city airport. As the location became controversial, GEO Group changed its intended site to the airport industrial park. City Council entered into a contract to sell 34 acres of the park to GEO, contingent upon the company getting the necessary approval from state and federal agencies.

August 11, 2004
A vote on the proposed construction of a private prison will not be included on the November general election ballot.  Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a nonprofit group, had asked that the issue be put to a vote of the people.  Plans to build a private prison in town have been hotly debated since the project was announced last year.  Concerned Citizens members presented a position statement on what they would like to see on the ballot to City Council on Monday.  City Administrator Jeff Anderson said Tuesday that council considered adding the issue to the general election ballot if the two groups could agree on the language, thereby making it unnecessary for the citizens to circulate a petition on the matter.  However, after the group presented its case, council came up with its own proposed ballot language, which was drafted by the city attorney. A proposal for a joint referendum was on the Council's agenda, but there was no motion to move it forward, so the idea died.  (The Pueblo Chieftain)

August 9, 2004
The Federal Aviation Administration is raising questions about Pueblo's plan to put a prison next to the city's airport.  FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer says the plan is unprecedented. Since 9-11, airports have been especially secure facilities. As the escape of convicted sex offender Robert Dana from Canon City, and last month's prison riot in Crowley County prove, prisons are dangerous.  A nationwide review could find no other prisons in such close proximity to an airport.  Groundbreaking for the privately-operated prison could be held in October.  (KOAA)

April 9, 2004
The city of Pueblo has conceded that an ordinance passed by City Council last year, zoning a lot at the airport industrial park for construction of a private prison, is invalid.  "We discovered some deficiencies in the procedures of the ordinance," said City Attorney Tom Jagger. "We felt there was no reason to take the court's time to challenge this."  The city intends to begin the zoning process anew in the near future, Jagger said.  The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, a nonprofit prison watchdog group, filed a lawsuit against the city last year seeking to prevent construction of a proposed private prison at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park.  The coalition asserted in the suit that the city's actions to provide land to WCC, the private company seeking to build and operate a prison here, were done without following the city's zoning protocol or the state's open-records law, which requires advance notice of public meetings.  District Judge Scott Epstein, with the blessing of both the city and the coalition, ruled the ordinance that zoned the site earmarked for the prison invalid, leaving only the open-records questions in the suit to be resolved. The suit is set for a two-day court trial before Epstein on May 6-7.  Alison Maynard, the Denver lawyer representing the coalition, said the city's admission that the zoning ordinance was invalid constitutes a victory for her clients.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

January 8, 2004
The company looking to bring a private prison to the Pueblo airport industrial park is in a holding pattern.  WCC can't set a timeline for construction of the prison until a court case challenging the city's sale of land to the company is settled, said spokesman Ken Fortier.  "Really, until those issues are resolved, I can't provide any timeline," he said this week.  The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, a nonprofit group that advocates prison only as a last resort, sued the Pueblo City Council in October in an attempt to stop WCC from taking control of the land upon which it plans to build the prison.  The council voted 7-0 last year to sell the company a 34-acre lot at the eastern end of the airport industrial park, in spite of protests from nearby business owners and neighbors. WCC plans to build a 700- to 1,000-bed prerelease facility on the site.  The suit claims that City Council violated the open meetings law by going into executive session without specifically publishing that the land deal for the prison would be discussed.  ( Pueblo Chieftain)

October 30, 2003
The lawyer for an accused killer wants a chance to question officials about the county jail's medical and mental-health care system.  Chief Public Defender Doug Wilson claims their testimony would reveal proof of wrongdoing in the awarding of the jail's medical contract to a Pueblo company. Wilson also believes the testimony would bolster his argument that his client, James Orcutt, has received inadequate care while in jail awaiting trial, violating his civil rights.  Orcutt, 36, faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree assault against an at-risk adult in connection with the alleged beating death of 74-year-old Primitivo "Pete" Sanchez in September 2002. Orcutt remains in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.  Wilson is seeking dismissal of the charges against Orcutt or alternative relief, such as a reduction in charges or the judge's refusal to admit evidence at trial of Orcutt's behavior in jail.  Wilson based the request on allegations that Orcutt was given the wrong medication, and sometimes none at all, by the jail's contract medical staff from Management Team Solutions.  Wilson alleges in the motion that Management Team Solutions is more concerned with its bottom line than the care of inmates at the jail.  He raised questions about whether the company came to hold the jail contract through unscrupulous means, and said the anonymous witness he'd put on the stand would testify that officials at Management Team Solutions were privy to bids submitted to the county for consideration by other companies before submitting theirs.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

October 9, 2003
A watchdog group filed a lawsuit Wednesday against City Council seeking to stop a private prison firm from taking control of land the city plans to sell it.  The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, a nonprofit group that advocates prison only as a last resort, claims City Council violated Colorado's open meetings law and local zoning ordinances when it committed land at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park to private prison giant WCC, according to Pueblo District Court documents.  Joining the coalition as plaintiffs bringing the suit are two couples who live near the proposed prison site: Nick and Tawnya Stringer and Steve and Linda Wilson.  The suit was filed by lawyer Alison Maynard. It alleges council sidestepped the state's open meetings law by convening in executive session during a June 30 work session without making specific mention in its agenda that the land transaction involving the prison would be discussed.  Also cited as a violation of the Sunshine Law was a letter to WCC vice-chairman Wayne Calabrese, which was signed by each council member and dated July 1. It stated that council authorized city administration "to take all action necessary and required" for WCC to acquire the lot at the industrial park. The suit points out that no public meeting of the council was ever publicized for that date, as the law requires.  Maynard said during a telephone interview from her office in Denver on Wednesday that council could have avoided the court challenge by following state and local protocol for the actions it has taken.  "The open meetings law is a very simple law," she said. "If they don’t comply with it, they’re toast. That’s what the law says, and they know it."  The suit also attacks a recent zoning change to the affected lot that would allow government use of the land. It alleges that proper protocol was not followed to bring zoning in line with the anticipated use of the land.  According to Maynard, the suit seeks to void actions taken at the meetings that are being challenged, and to uphold the zoning status that forbids government use of the lot in question.  "Pueblo City Council has demonstrated a pattern of conducting public business behind closed doors and ignoring the opinions of Pueblo residents," said Stephen Raher, co-director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. "The laws that were designed to ensure open process in government have been flagrantly violated and the people of Pueblo have been shut out of this process."  City Attorney Tom Jagger said he was not familiar with the suit, and declined to comment on the issues it cited.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

October 8, 2003
A prison-reform group filed suit Tuesday to stop the state from issuing $305.6 million in bonds to build a high-security lockup in Cañon City and a university medical facility in Aurora.  The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition filed the action in Denver District Court, claiming lawmakers violated the state constitution by not placing the issue before voters.  The accusation was denied by legislators and by Gov. Bill Owens.  "We're confident the state has the legal authority," said Owens' spokesman Dan Hopkins, adding the matter had been reviewed by lawyers for the governor, the legislature and the attorney general.  The coalition, which advocates substance-abuse treatment and mental-illness treatment over incarceration, has been highly critical of the state's prison policies, but attacked both construction plans because they were included in the same bill.  "It's a blatant attempt to rob Colorado voters of their constitutional right to approve or reject government debt," said Stephen Raher, co-director of the Colorado Springs group.  The coalition says the bonds, or certificates of participation, violate the TABOR Amendment, which places strict taxing and spending limitations on governments.  Attorney Paul Grant, who filed the suit, added that the "pairing of the prison and the (medical) project is a classic example of legislative logrolling - combining two very different proposals in one bill in order to collect enough support for both to pass."  "It's 'You vote for mine; I'll vote for yours,' " he said. "This kind of political maneuver is exactly what the single-subject clause was meant to prevent."  (Rocky Mountain News)

September 24, 2003
A private prison planned for Pueblo should be operational in two years, the director of the Colorado Department of Corrections reported Tuesday.  Joe Ortiz, whose department has a contract for the 500-bed pre-parole center, said Wackenhut Correctional Corp. of Palm Beach, Fla., is ready to proceed with the private prison construction at Pueblo Memorial Airport industrial park.  Pueblo City Council recently approved the airport site, previously rejecting Wackenhut's first choice of a parcel of land near Pueblo Boulevard and 24th Street.  "It's my understanding it's still very much a 'go,' " Ortiz said, alluding to local controversy over neighborhood opposition to both the Pueblo Boulevard and industrial park sites.  Ortiz was asked about the timing of the pre-parole center during a hearing of the legislative Interim Committee on State Government Expenditures.  The interim committee is chaired by House Speaker Lola Spradley, R-Beulah, whose district includes several Fremont County prisons.  "He (Ortiz) is kind of the intake. He takes what the courts give him," Spradley said in response to several legislators' requests for his recommendations for reducing the prison budget's rate of growth.  Ultimately, prison sentencing laws are made by the Legislature and applied by judges, not by the Department of Corrections.  Ortiz covered many points, including plans to use private prisons even more in the future because they cost less than state-run prisons.  The Department of Corrections will save money, he said, with the additional 500 private beds in Pueblo, as well as a similar 500-bed prison to be built by another firm in Colorado Springs.  ( Pueblo Chieftain)

August 29, 2003
Pueblo County commissioners agreed Tuesday to pay $ 6,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from an initial meeting about bringing a private prison to the city.  Members of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, who opposed the prison, sued the commissioners for not giving notice to the public of an Aug. 8, 2002, meeting at which the prison was first discussed.  The county will pay the group $ 6,000 for its attorneys fees and costs, according to County Attorney Dan Kogovsek.  Kogovsek said the meeting actually was called by the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. and held at PEDCo's offices. County commissioners were invited, along with City Council members and about 50 local businessmen and women.  Because at least two commissioners attended the meeting, and it contained discussion of public business, notice of it should have been given to the public, Kogovsek said.  (Pueblo Chieftian)

August 27, 2003
Despite harsh criticism from economic development officials, City County voted Monday night to ask voters to extend and redirect part of the city's half-cent economic development sales tax.  Critics were not convinced. Several former council members and former members of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. testified during the public hearing that council will be "killing the goose that laid the golden eggs."  "You're killing the incentives that bring jobs," said John Verna, a PEDCo member and former council member. "How many of you are paid-up members of PEDCo?  PEDCo officials, past and present, were already unhappy with council for approving the construction of a private prison in the airport industrial park.  Several speakers Monday said that and the sales-tax question show that council isn't friendly to economic development.  (Pueblo Chieftian)

August 18, 2003
ON JULY 1, all seven Pueblo city councilmen signed a letter to Wayne Calabrese, vice chairman and president of WCC, stating it was City Council's "official intent to annex, sell, and transfer Lot 69 (at Memorial Airport Industrial Park) to WCC upon terms and conditions mutually acceptable to the City of Pueblo and WCC." On the evening of July 23 Council convened a public hearing on the annexation - a hearing that spilled over to the early hours of July 24. The hearing ostensibly was to get public reaction to the "proposed" annexation and sale to WCC, which plans to build a privately operated pre-release prison in Pueblo. But back on July 1, the Council letter stated: "Upon signing this letter, the City Council is hereby authorizing and directing the City Administration to take all action necessary and required to effect the sale and transfer of Lot 69 from the City of Pueblo to WCC, including, but not limited to, negotiating and drafting an appropriate contract for sale and purchase of Lot 69 and instituting proceedings for the annexation of Lot 69 to the City of Pueblo." In other words, this was a done deal as of July 1, as far as the Council and administration were concerned. Those who testified at the public hearing more than three weeks later were talking to deaf ears. This was an insult to all who came to testify in good faith. Those ears should have listened. For example, Dave Cardinal, one of the founders of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., warned the councilmen of the dangers inherent in placing any kind of prison at the Industrial Park. He spoke of the problems PEDCo and the community faced when this city had a bad reputation around the state and nation. "It was hard for me to believe the negative things our competitors said about us when we were competing against them," Mr. Cardinal testified. "Most of them were not true, but to a company not familiar with Pueblo, they were easy to believe. "It only takes a few subtle negative remarks by the competition and we are off the site selection list and we never know why. I can just hear the competition saying, 'Pueblo, yes they have good incentives and a nice Industrial Park. I hear they even have a state-of-the-art prison in their industrial park.' "Those types of negative comments can do us serious harm with prospects, and we have no way to combat such remarks. Don't think that doesn 't happen in the cutthroat business of economic development." Mr. Cardinal's forewarning was justified. A few days after Council officially approved the annexation so that the prison would pay city taxes, a sizable company interested in a vacant building at the Airport Industrial Park broke off talks when its top officials were told that, yes, a prison was planned for the park.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

August 18, 2003
Pueblo City Council members said Wednesday that a July 1 letter they sent to WCC did not mean that a later public hearing and vote on allowing a private prison at the airport industrial park was merely a formality.  The seven councilmen signed the letter to the prison company, which in part said: "This letter represents the Pueblo City Council's official expression of our intent to annex, sell and transfer Lot 69 (at the airport industrial park) to WCC upon terms and conditions mutually acceptable to the City of Pueblo and WCC.  "Upon signing this letter, the City Council is hereby authorizing and directing the City Administration to take all action necessary and required to effect the sale and transfer of Lot 69 from the City of Pueblo to WCC, including, but not limited to, negotiating and drafting an appropriate contract for sale and purchase of Lot 69 and instituting proceedings for the annexation of Lot 69 to the City of Pueblo."  City Council held a public hearing on the annexation July 23 and approved it at the end of the meeting, after midnight on the morning of July 24.  It could be interpreted that the July 1 letter indicates that the council had decided well before the hearing to annex the land and sell it to WCC for the prison.  Past and current PEDCo officials have criticized the council for allowing the private prison to be built at the airport industrial park. They fear the prison will turn off businesses who might consider moving to the park in the future.   (Pueblo Chieftain)

August 4, 2003
Two former economic development leaders on Thursday charged Pueblo City Council with hurting the airport industrial park's chances of attracting new business. The two also said the city should start looking for new sites for business parks.  Dave Cardinal, who helped start the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., and Rich Golenda, a former councilman and longtime PEDCo board member, said putting a private prison at the airport park is a terrible mistake.  Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to annex a parcel at the industrial park into the city for a prison. They also voted to sell the 34 acres to WCC, a prison company that wants to build a 700- to 1,000-bed prison at the site.  Cardinal and Golenda testified at Monday night's public hearing on the annexation, telling City Council not to kill the city's golden goose.  The two men said they've helped bring many businesses to the industrial park and it was never easy. Pueblo already lacks some of the amenities that Colorado Springs or Denver have for luring companies, they said. Putting a prison in the park will make it impossible to persuade business officials to consider moving to the industrial park, they said. Golenda likened council's decision to how the Romans poured salt on the fields and rubble of Carthage after they destroyed it, making sure the city could never use the land again.  "That's kind of what City Council has done to economic development at that site," Golenda said.  Said Cardinal: "They felt like they knew more than PEDCo.  "We've got 20 years experience between us recruiting companies to Pueblo," Cardinal added. "Pueblo has had to overcome a lot of negatives. We've had to fight and struggle to to get every single industry."
Several council members said before their vote that communities like Aurora, Colorado Springs and even San Antonio, Texas, have private prisons that haven't hurt economic development.  "But people are clamoring to go to Colorado Springs. People are clamoring to go to San Antonio," Golenda said. "No one's going to call Pueblo and say 'I want to come there.' "  The former PEDCo officials think PEDCo and the city should find another spot for luring prospective businesses. They said there are spots around Pueblo and in Pueblo West where businesses could be pointed.  But mostly, Golenda and Cardinal said they just wanted to speak out about the prison decision. "We've invested so many years and worked so hard, and so have a lot of other people," Cardinal said. "We can't just walk away."  Golenda repeated what he told City Council late Monday night, that it won't be the council members who ultimately live the consequences of their decision.  "That's the real tragedy of this," he said. "The community is going to have to live with difficulty of the aftermath."  (Pueblo Chieftain)

July 7, 2003
The city of Pueblo has offered WCC a plot at the airport industrial park for its proposed private prison. The city sent WCC a letter Wednesday offering a lot on the southeast corner of the park for sale to the prison company, although an asking price wasn't released.  City officials said they plan to negotiate a sale price with WCC next week.  WCC was turned down last week in its attempt to get the city to annex land west of the intersection of Pueblo Boulevard and 24th Street for a 700-bed prison. The medium-security facility would house inmates who are about to be released and those who violated their terms of parole.  City officials want the prison in or near Pueblo, but didn't think the 24th Street location was good because of nearby homes and the Pueblo Greenway Nature Center.  WCC officials have seen the industrial park site and like it, according to Assistant City Manager Dave Galli. The land is not in city limits, but the city plans to attempt to annex it later this month.  Even though they voted down the last WCC annexation 4-3, most of the City Council members said they'd like the prison and its 160 jobs here. Council members met in executive session Monday to talk about offering the land and reached an informal consensus.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

June 25, 2003
WCC has asked the state to allow it to look at other sites in Pueblo to locate a private prison, after its first choice was turned down by City Council early Tuesday.  After a long meeting, council by a 4-3 vote turned down WCC's first choice of land for annexation, 40 acres located just west of Pueblo Boulevard and 24th Street.  WCC Vice President Ken Fortier said Tuesday that the company would like to build a prison in Pueblo, but must get state approval to change its initial proposal.  "Pueblo is an ideal location for this procurement," Fortier said. "We would like to stay in Pueblo if we could."  WCC, formerly the Wackenhut Corrections Corp., won a state contract to build a 700-bed medium-security facility here to house convicts with little time left on their sentences and those who violated parole.  But a stream of city residents told council that they don't want a prison so close to the Nature Center and the Hyde Park neighborhood, and several said WCC doesn't pay enough and can't properly run a prison.  Though they voted the annexation down, council members said they want the prison and its estimated 160 jobs in the Pueblo area.  Councilman Al Gurule, who also opposed the annexation, said he didn't think WCC plans to hire enough people to care for the inmates. But, he said, he wasn't completely opposed to the prison.  Aguilera also joined Gurule in complaining that Pueblo's poor neighborhoods are always the areas targeted for controversial developments like prisons.  "If we tried to build this same development in Walking Stick or El Camino, there would be such an outcry that you wouldn't believe," Aguilera said.  WCC also is talking with Lamar about building a prison there.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

June 13, 2003
If city officials approve the annexation of the 70-acre site for its private prison this month, construction could start by fall, according to Wayne Calabrese, president of WCC, formerly the Wackenhut Corrections Corp.  He said wages would be competitive in order to attract and retain staff.  "We don't want to train people and have them leave for other jobs. A lot of attrition in the ranks isn't going to help us," he said.  WCC has indicated wages for entry-level corrections officers would be more than $22,000 a year - more than $11,000 less than what the state pays its starting officers.  ( Pueblo Chieftain)

May 30, 2003
City Council will hold a public hearing June 9 on annexing land for a private prison, the first of a few hearings required on the issue.  The June 9 hearing will deal only with whether the land proposed for the prison meets state annexation requirements, according to City Manager Lee Evett. The larger issue of the prison's compatibility with Pueblo won't be addressed by council until later in June when the council debates actually annexing the land.  Many city residents are opposed to the prison, especially residents of the West Side. While they can speak to council members at the June 9 meeting, council won't be deciding anything but whether the land can legally be annexed.  WCC, formerly the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, plans to build a 500-bed private prison on land near the intersection of Pueblo Boulevard and 24th Street.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

May 16, 2003
The state wants to expand the size of a private prison proposed for Pueblo to 750 beds from the original 500 beds, a spokesman for prison-operator WCC Corp. said Tuesday in Pueblo.  WCC released the economic forecast on Tuesday, the same day Fortier and other WCC administrators and workers were in Pueblo to hold an informational open house about the prison project.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

February 14, 2003
The company wanting to build and operate a private prison for the state still is interested in also helping Pueblo County get a new jail next door.  Wayne Calabrese, vice chairman and president of WCC in Palm Beach, Fla., said his company has an option on a site for both projects just west of Pueblo Boulevard near 24th Street.  To counter any neighborhood opposition to a prison, Calabese touted the potential economic benefits of the project to the community.  If things work ou, the company also would help the county secure financing for construction of an even larger jail that Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino's office -- not WCC  -- would run.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

November 22, 2002
Colorado Department of Corrections officials still are reviewing four proposals from private prison companies to build a new medium security prison, including a plan that would put a 500-bed, pre-parole prison on a site just west of Pueblo Boulevard and 24th Street.  WCC (formerly the Wackenhut Co.) is the company that wants to build the new prison in Pueblo, if given the contract by the state. The prison would sit on a 40- to 70-acre site, depending on whether Pueblo County officials decided to join in the project and have WCC build a 500-bed county jail that would adjoin the prison.  WCC operates private prisons in the United States, Great Britain and Australia. During the last session, the General Assembly passed legislation calling for the construction of a medium-security prison along the Front Range, with the condition that it be built and operated by a private prison company.  Pueblo County officials were approached by WCC in August to support the prison project and offered to build a new county jail at the same time. The commissioners said that having WCC build a 500-bed county jail would make it less expensive, although Sheriff Dan Corsentino has said that his officers would staff any new county jail, not WCC employees.  ( Pueblo Chieftain)

October 31, 2002
Roughly 90 people came to get answers from Pueblo County officials Wednesday night on how a private prison company, WCC, was able to get the commissioners' support to build a 500-bed prison just west of Pueblo Boulevard and 24th Street without first consulting the public. Commissioner John Klomp was the only commissioner at the forum, hosted by the local group, Better Pueblo. He sketched many of the details of the prison plan for the audience, many of whom were clearly opposed to the project. He emphasized that the state Department of Corrections will make the decision on whether WCC gets a contract to build the prison. The other speakers included Larry Odegard, state president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Stephen Raher, of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Odegard used his time to read a lengthy list of complaints and incidents involving WCC prisons around the country. AFSCME represents state employees and Odegard said it was clear that private prison companies make money by cutting their expenses on staff and inmate care and service. "This is a nasty company," Odegard told the audience. "I would urge the elected officials to make sure they know who they are getting in bed with." (Pueblo Chieftain)

October 30, 2002
Better Pueblo, a coalition of Pueblo-area labor, environmental and community groups, is hosting a public forum tonight on the plan by a private corporation to build a medium-security state prison just west of Pueblo Boulevard at 24th Street.  Better Pueblo also has invited representatives from WCC (formerly the Wackenhut Co.), which wants to build the new prison, as well as representatives from the Colorado Department of Corrections.  WCC ha submitted a bid to build a new 500-bed medium-security prison for the state that would house pre-parole inmates.  Pueblo County commissioners have endorsed the application in hopes that WCC will also be able to build a 500-bed county jail as part of the complex, although Sheriff Dan Corsentino has said county officers would staff the jail if built.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

October 22, 2002
A Colorado criminal justice reform group has filed a lawsuit in Pueblo District Court to erase the decision by the county commissioners last Sept. 4 to endorse the construction of a private prison and possibly a new county jail as well on land west of Pueblo Boulevard.  The group, called the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, claims the commissioners violated the state's open meetings law by making the decision to endorse the project by WCC (Formerly Wackenhut Co.) in an executive session that was closed to the public.    Stephen Raher, co-coordinator for the group, said the court should force the commissioners to withdraw their letter of endorsement for the WCC project, which would be a 500-bed, medium-security prison on 70 acres west of Pueblo Boulevard at 24th Street.  "The county has refused to reverse the actions they made in executive session.  Equally disappointing is the fact they have yet to schedule a public meeting on this topic," he said.  County Attorney Dan Kogovsek acknowledged that an Aug. 8 meeting with the WCC and members of City Council and the business community had not been advertised to the public or the media notified.  NO decisions were made at that meeting, however.  As for the Sept. 4 executive session, Kogovsek disagreed that the commissioners erred in deciding to give WCC a letter of endorsement at that non-public meeting.  "WCC was making a proposal to the county on providing a county jail as well as building a prison for the state and that discussion properly fell under the protection of an executive session," he said.  Kogosvek said the decision on the WCC project is out of the county's hands and rests with the Department of Corrections.  "It's not the commissioners who will decide whether the prison will be built in Pueblo," he said.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

September 27, 2002
Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino remains to be convinced that WCC, a private prison corporation, has improved its performance record at other jails it operates before he will support any plan to have the company build a new county jail here.   Corsentino said that news reports and other information about Florida-based WCC's jails in other states show there have been near-riots, stabbings and assaults that raise questions about whether the private company provides adequate staff and training at its prisons and jails.   "I have a list of concerns about the professionalism of the organization that need to be addressed, but I will have to be convinced they can do the job," he said Thursday.   WCC officials said they could answer those concerns, and said the 36 prisons and jails they operate in the United States are closely scrutinized because of the opposition to privatizing prisons by government-employee unions.   "This is a highly politicized issue because we are displacing workers who have typically been government employees," said Ken Fortier, WCC's regional vice president.   Corsentino is going with Commissioner Loretta Kennedy to meet with WCC officials next week in Florida to discuss the company's bid to the Department of Corrections to build a 500-bed, medium-security prison just west of Pueblo Boulevard and 24th Street. The prison would hold inmates about to be paroled.   The company is paying for the pair's travel and lodging.   WCC would build, staff and operate that prison for the state, and the company has also offered to build a new 500-bed county jail at the complex. Corsentino insisted earlier this week that his officers provide the staff at any new county jail.   Fortier said the company (formerly Wackenhut Co.) was willing to agree to Corsentino's terms, although WCC's business is to build and staff prisons, jails and detention centers.   "One of the big cost savings for (WCC) is in personnel expenses because we do not provide as generous a benefit package as government employees receive," Fortier said. "But if it is important to the county to use its own detention officers, we're willing to agree to that."   Corsentino elaborated on his concerns Thursday, saying they amounted to more than just a question of whose personnel guard the inmates. He said that WCC prisons in New Mexico, Texas and Florida - among others - had all had serious incidents in the past three years of inmates or guards being assaulted or killed. News reports available over the Internet show that three WCC officers at the Lea County Corrections Facility in Hobbs, N.M., were convicted last April of federal civil rights violations after beating an inmate at the jail.   Reports also said inmates attacked WCC guards at the Guadalupe County (New Mexico) Correctional Facility in April 1999, resulting in one guard's death. There were other incidents reported at WCC jails in Florida and Texas.   Corsentino said the problems indicate WCC may not have done adequate background screening on its staff or provided adequate numbers of officers or training in some cases. While the sheriff's department would provide the detention officers at any new jail, Corsentino said that those concerns are still valid if WCC is providing the prison staff in adjoining buildings.   "At the very least I would want some kind of role in who WCC hires and who is allowed to provide ancillary services inside that complex," he said.   Fortier said the company had experienced problems at some facilities, but said they were no different than the problems found in state- or county-run jails. He said the company had lost "a handful" of prison contracts since it began operation in 1987.   One reason WCC is willing to include a new county jail in the construction project is that gives its proposal an advantage in the eyes of state prison officials, Fortier said.  "In our experience, that's always an asset," he said.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

September 25, 2002
Pueblo County Commissioner Loretta Kennedy will travel to Florida next week to discuss the possible construction of a new Pueblo County Jail as part of a 500-bed state prison here.   Kennedy will visit WCC, which builds and operates private prisons. The company has proposed a prison just west of Pueblo Boulevard at 24th Street.   At their regular meeting Tuesday, the commissioners said one reason they have endorsed WCC's bid to build and operate a prison for the Department of Corrections is that the Florida-based corporation might be willing to build a new county jail at the complex, which would be located on 50 acres west of Pueblo Boulevard.   Kennedy, Klomp and Commission Chairman Matt Peulen said they would be unwilling to let WCC completely staff a new county jail.  Sheriff Dan Corsentino also will make the trip to WCC offices in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., next week. He said the staffing issue is fundamental.   "The state constitution gives the sheriff the responsibility of running the jail and I'm not going to give up that authority to any private company," he said. "I'm keeping an open mind about having (WCC) build a new jail, but there will be no discussion of having their employees provide the security."   All of the county's hopes for finding a cheaper solution to the problem of building a new jail hinge upon WCC getting the state contract to build the new medium-security prison. Last week, corrections officials said the bid process would remain open through the end of September. The contract award is supposed to occur in November.  (The Pueblo Chieftain)

August 30, 2002
One of the world's largest private prison corporations is putting together a plan to build a 500-bed, medium-security prison that would be located on the west side of Pueblo Boulevard at 24th Street. Officials from WCC (formerly The Wackenhut Corp.) made a presentation to Pueblo County and city officials Thursday at a meeting at the offices of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. The meeting should have been advertised to the public because of the elected officials involved, but neither the county or city gave the necessary notice. County Administrator Mark Carmel said the lack of notice was accidental. Councilman Ted Lopez Jr. said WCC wanted a letter of support from local officials, saying they were willing to consider the project and he was willing to go that far. Councilman Pad Avalos said he could foresee obvious problems with the plan. He said WCC officials made it clear that they could not be paying wages and benefits comparable to DOC employees. "I told them this is still a labor community and by privatizing this prison, they would be displacing better-paying jobs," he said. (Pueblo Chieftain)  

Pueblo Community Corrections Service
Pueblo, Colorado
October 25, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
The state is keeping a close eye on one of two residential community corrections programs in Pueblo, but not because of problems with inmate escapes. Two audits of Pueblo Community Corrections Service Inc., 1901 N. Hudson Ave., showed that the 65-bed facility was not following all the procedures it is supposed to and the state is working with the center to correct those problems, said Edward Camp, manager of the state Office of Community Corrections. A statewide audit of the community corrections program released last month showed numerous concerns with the entire program, including failure to track and capture escaped offenders. CCSI was the only center in Pueblo included in the state audit, but it had fewer escapes than others in the region, all of which have lower risk ratings. The state uses privately run community corrections facilities to house nonviolent offenders as a way of reducing overcrowding in prisons.
Though some are operated as nonprofit programs, the two in Pueblo are for-profit enterprises. Statewide, there were 3,985 escapes from 35 community corrections facilities between July 2003 and last February.

Pueblo County Jail
Pueblo, Colorado
Aramark, Management Team Solutions, TransCor

October 23, 2007 Pueblo Chieftain
A cook at the Pueblo County jail was arrested Friday for allegedly smuggling in drugs. Colleen Ann Frazier, 33, was arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and introduction of contraband. She is free after posting $15,000 bail Saturday. Frazier was the second person affiliated with the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department to be arrested in the same day. Deputy Joetta Iles was arrested under suspicion of attempted sexual assault and other crimes after she allegedly solicited a high-school girl over the Internet. Iles was a student resource officer at County High School. Iles was placed on unpaid administrative leave and posted $10,000 bail the same day. Frazier, who was working in the kitchen during dinner at the time of her arrest, had a white envelope containing 10 pills, five each of Vicodin and Percocet, Capt. Leide DeFusco of the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department said Monday. The envelope was found in Frazier's work apron following Friday's dinner, he said. "I don't know if she was selling them. I know she was distributing from the kitchen while she worked," DeFusco said, adding that the manner of alleged distributions was part of an ongoing investigation. He said more arrests could be likely. The sheriff's department teamed with the Pueblo Police Department narcotics unit on the investigation and arrest. Frazier, who lives in the 2000 block of West 11th Street, is an employee of Aramark Food, a private company the sheriff's department has contracted with for six years to prepare jail meals, according to a press release. Frazier and another unidentified Aramark employee had their security clearances revoked. Sheriff Kirk Taylor said he was pleased with the investigation and that the screening process for civilian kitchen staff could change. He also said the county's contract with Aramark will expire soon and food-provider bids will open in November.

October 21, 2006 The Pueblo Chieftain
The latest round of campaign finance reports on Pueblo County races reflect a trio of David-and-Goliath contests, at least in financial terms. In the race for sheriff, incumbent Republican Dan Corsentino has raised $133,500 and spent $100,000 as of last week. His Democratic challenger, Kirk Taylor, has raised $41,424 and spent all but $800 of it. Corsentino, who has been sheriff since 1990, had $49,000 in his campaign treasury a year ago and has raised more than $85,000 this year. His most recent report, covering contributions through Oct. 12, includes $1,000 contributions from Transcor America LLC, Aramark political action committee and Motorola PAC, as well as $1,000 each from local residents Keith and Sharon Swerdfeger, Daniel Montano, Thomas Rusler, Gary and Georgia Walker, Larry Mizel of Denver and Richard Lucibella of Oceanridge, Fla. Transcor is a large prisoner transportation company and Aramark is another large company, which has the contract for food service at the county jail.

April 6, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged health care for inmates at the Pueblo County jail was deplorable. The lawsuit, filed a year ago in U.S. District Court, sought a court order to have the U.S. Justice Department temporarily take over the jail's health-care services. In a six-page decision made public Monday, Judge Phillip Figa threw out the lawsuit on procedural grounds and did not rule on the merits of the allegations. He ruled that former inmate Kathleen Whittemore, who filed the lawsuit, did not show that she had exhausted her efforts to seek remedies through administrative procedures within the jail. Figa pointed out that federal law does not permit lawsuits about jail and prison conditions "until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." The lawsuit alleged that health care provided to inmates "fall(s) beneath standards of human decency." It sought a judge's ruling that the provided level of care violated inmates' constitutional right to be free from "cruel and unusual punishment." Whittemore said in a court filing she "begged every jail staff member with who (she) came into contact with that (she) needed medical attention, and that she was in pain." She also said her requests, oral and written, for medical aid were ignored. In her affidavit, Whittemore said jail personnel never told her there was a grievance procedure despite her continual requests for help, which she alleged were ignored. In a court filing, Losavio told Figa that three former employees of Management Team Solutions claimed in affidavits submitted to the judge that the grievance procedure was a sham. The ex-employees, Kari Novak, Stacy Mills and Tracy Mills, said that in reality no remedy is available to inmates with grievances because the written complaints are ignored or destroyed, according to Losavio.

September 1, 2004
Neither of two companies seeking to provide medical and mental health services at the Pueblo County Jail can meet the county's requirements.  The current provider, Management Team Solutions, bid the county's $900,000 maximum for next year, but said that won't pay for enough staff to guarantee that the county jail can keep its health-care accreditation.  The other bidder, Correctional Healthcare Management of Littleton, said it would provide care at accredited levels, but it would cost more than $1 million to do it.  A third group, Spanish Peaks Mental Health Services, was disqualified because it didn't offer medical services.  County officials decided Tuesday to negotiate with the two bidding companies later this week before recommending one to county commissioners for a three-year contract.  MTS told the county earlier in August that it was backing out of the existing $820,000 contract for the jail's medical and mental services, effective Sept. 28. MTS owner Rita DeHerrera said the jail's large population of inmates and the high proportion with mental problems made it too expensive for her company to continue the contract.  (The Pueblo Chieftain)

August 16, 2004
Pueblo's chief public defender says the company that has provided medical care for the Pueblo County Jail has petitioned the courts to free jail inmates facing costly care in order to pad its profits. Some inmates awaiting court dates, and those who've already been sentenced, have been set free by judges based on recommendations from the jail's medical staff that their care will be costly, court records show. Representatives of the company make no apologies for springing inmates to seek medical care outside the jail. They admit the company turns to judges to release inmates when their care is expensive, and they admit the company isn't waiting to exhaust the cap before doing it.
( Pueblo Chieftain)

August 6, 2004
Starting today, the county is asking companies to bid on a contract to provide medical and mental health services at the jail.  Management Team Solutions, which provided the medical and mental health services for the past two years, told the county last month that it is pulling out of the contract. The company's owner, Rita DeHerrera, said she couldn't afford to offer the required services, especially because of the increase in prisoners with mental problems.  (Pueblo Chieftain)

March 31, 2004
A class-action lawsuit filed Monday in federal court says that health-care services at the Pueblo County Jail should be taken over temporarily by the U.S. Justice Department.  The lawsuit filed on behalf of inmates states that the jai's health care "fall(s) beneath standards of human decency."  The lawsuit names Sheriff Dan Corsentino, the county government and the jail's health-care contractor, Management Team Solutions, as defendants.  (The Pueblo Chieftain)

November 29, 2003
The Pueblo City-County Health Department is forwarding the local public defender's concerns about jail conditions to the American Correctional Association, an association that accredits jails.  Heather Maio, the Pueblo health department's environmental health director, received the Board of Health's approval on Wednesday to pass on Chief Public Defender Doug Wilson's complaints about the jail.  Maio brought the issue to the board in light of the health department's recent jail inspection that mainly raised ongoing concerns about crowding in the facility, which was built for 189 inmates but usually houses around 500.  She also referred to a state health official's letter noting that the state does not have jurisdiction over a jail's medical services.  In the letter to the Pueblo health department, Judy Hughes of the state health department, wrote that medically related complaints may be passed on to the state board's licensing physicians and nurses, and two jail accrediting agencies - The American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare.  Maio received the health board's approval to pass on Wilson's concerns to the American Correctional Association, and to send copies of the letter to Wilson, Sheriff Dan Corsentino, and Management Team Solutions' (the company providing jail medical care) physician.  Maio said she hoped to speak with licensing board officials before deciding whether to contact them.  For some time Wilson has publicly decried the jail's conditions, citing deficiencies in medical and mental-health treatment, as well as its sanitary and safety standards.  ( Pueblo Chieftain)

Ridge View Youth Services Center
Arapahoe, Colorado
Miscellaneous
December 26, 2002
Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies captured three teenagers late Tuesday after an escape from a youth services center.  The juveniles had been free for about three hours before Deputy Chris George spotted them.  Roche said deputies don't believe the teenagers had any help in their escape.  The facility, at 28101 E. Quincy Ave., is not fenced but has security guards.  The staff quickly became aware of the escape and began a search, but lost the trio in the darkness and surrounding hills, McDonough said.  Personnel then notified deputies.  Ridge View is a 500-bed juvenile facility by the state, but it is privately operated by the Rite of Passage Schools based in Minden, Nev.  (Rocky Mountain News)

Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center
Canon City
Cornell
April 29, 2010 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An Alpharetta man was sentenced Thursday to three years and five months in prison for bilking a Colorado corrections facility project out of nearly $13 million. Edgar J. Beaudreault Jr. pleaded guilty in December to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In 2003, Beaudreault, 61, and San Diego co-defendant Howard Sperling tricked Cornell Corrections of California Inc. into transferring $13 million into an Atlanta account that was supposed to be an escrow account for the purchase price of a Canon City, Colo., facility under construction, court authorities said. Rather than having the escrow administered by a reputable bank, Beaudreault and Sperling wired the money to other accounts for their own personal use. Under the same contract, the two men and another defendant also were supposed to obtain a construction loan on behalf of the general contractor on the project, but didn’t. “These defendants were part of an elaborate fraud scheme that ironically involved the construction of a prison,” U.S. attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “They will now experience how business is conducted inside a real prison.” In addition to the federal prison sentence, Beaudreault is required to serve three years on supervised release and pay $5.4 million in restitution.

February 23, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
A Chicago man who pocketed $605,000 in construction funds during the building of a youth treatment facility here was convicted Friday of conspiracy and wire fraud. A federal jury in Atlanta found Robert B. Surles, 64, guilty of conspiracy and 15 counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to steal nearly $13 million from Cornell Co., which built the Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center in 2003. From Aug. 2003 to Jan. 2004, Surles, along with Edgar Beaudreault, 60, of Georgia, and Howard Sperling, 45, of San Diego, conspired to defraud Cornell of construction funds. Surles was to obtain a $12 million construction loan, but he and his co-defendants never obtained financing for the project and instead led the contractor to believe they had. The trio falsely represented that the funds were in an escrow account, but instead the money was transferred to other accounts. Although some money was used to get the construction started, the majority of funds was taken by the trio for personal purposes. The evidence at trial showed Surles took $605,000 of the funds, according to Patrick Crosby, public affairs officer for the United States Attorney's office in Atlanta. "This defendant fraudulently induced a company to transfer approximately $13 million into an ‘escrow account’ that turned out to be nothing but a piggy bank for the defendant and his co-conspirators," said Sally Quillian Yates, acting U.S. Attorney in Atlanta. "A federal jury was not fooled by the story he told when he testified and convicted him on conspiracy and multiple counts of fraud." Both Beaudreault and Sperling pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and testified against Surles. All three are awaiting sentencing for the crime and Surles is slated to be sentenced April 27.

August 15, 2005 Canon City Daily Record
Cañon City police charged 18-year-old David Allen June with attempted first-degree murder and attempted first-degree assault after an incident Thursday at the Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center, 700 Fourmile Parkway, in Cañon City. According to police reports, June, a resident at the center who has family in Penrose, lunged at staff member Laurie Nemcik wielding television chords. June allegedly tried to stab Nemcik in the neck with the prongs of the chords before being restrained by several staff members. Southern Peaks opened in August of 2004 as a treatment facility for adolescents in the region with behavioral or mental health issues. Six residents ran off from the campus during its first month of operation, but they eventually were caught. There have been a number of runaways and alleged assaults since, including a spate of nine assault arrests during the first week of March. In June, two teens were arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting another resident with a magic marker. Charges were later dropped against one of the defendants after the victim testified in the case.

October 29, 2004 Canon City Daily Record
It seems that the Cornell juvenile facility has had considerable startup problems. Does it really have that much economic impact on Cañon City? Would we be better off without this facility?
Cornell officials admit that the Fremont County facility (Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center) has had more problems than its fair share. Management has reacted with some terminations, transfers, demotions, additional staff training, slowing down intakes, moving out clients and establishing a community advisory committee.

October 8, 2004 Canyon Cafe
Recent escapes from the Southern Peaks Treatment Facility have local law enforcement and city officials, along with a growing number of citizens, concerned and looking for possible solutions. Since Sept. 29, seven students have escaped from the facility, located in the new Four Mile development off Highway 50.
While law enforcement officials are worried about the safety of the community and the strain on their budget, local citizens are beginning to worry about the placement of a new elementary school near the facility in the Four Mile Development. Rabe said that Sheriff Jim Beicker and Police Chief Dan Shull were willing to work with Southern Peaks to correct the problem. However, Beicker said he has not been contacted by anyone at Southern Peaks to help address the situation. “(Southern Peaks) has already been a burden on law enforcement and a safety concern to the community and it was not represented that way originally,” Beicker said. “It’s almost an unfunded mandate when the court orders me to transport these kids.” “I asked how many times do you expect law enforcement will have to come out there (to Southern Peaks), and he said ‘oh, once or twice a year.’ Well, they filled that quota in the first couple hours,” Beicker said. Florence Police Chief Mike Ingle picked up two of the escapees near a gas station when he noticed two suspicious looking teenagers, not knowing that anyone had escaped from Southern Peaks. “They’re filling up beds (in Spring Creek Youth Services Center). We’re only contracted for so many beds. That’s one of the reasons we can’t get kids in there sometimes, because they are filled with Cornell kids. Lisa Tauser, communications director for Cornell, a privatized corrections company that runs Southern Peaks, stressed that it is a treatment center for juveniles, not another jail like Fremont County residents are used to. “We don’t anticipate that kids are going to walk away, but I guess to an extent that is part of the life of this program,” Tauser said. “They’re not escaping, they are simply walking away from the facility. Tauser said that over time, as the staff is more properly trained, the incidents should decrease and they will not have to rely on law enforcement.

October 7, 2004 Daily Record
Four more juveniles have escaped from the Southern Peaks Treatment Center in east Cañon City after breaking a window Saturday night at the Cornell detention center, according to Cornell officials. The latest incident comes days after two escapees were caught Sept. 28 in Florence.

October 7, 2004 Daily Record
Two juvenile males, 16 and 17, who escaped from the Cornell Youth Detention Center in Cañon City, were apprehended at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday by Florence police officers.
"I was very concerned that we were not notified by Cornell that these people were even missing," Florence Police Chief Mike Ingle said.

October 7, 2004 Daily Record
The escape of two juveniles from the Cornell Youth Detention Center has caused the facility to rethink how it informs local law enforcement of such incidents.
"This incident made us aware that our policy for contacting local law enforcement needed to be changed," Cornell Director of Communication Lisa Tauser said. Cornell personnel reported the escape to the Cañon City Police Department, but the Florence Police and the Fremont County Sheriff's Office were not notified. The two offenders escaped through a window from Cornell's dormitory units Monday night. Cornell has confirmed there was another escapee, and a warrant has been issued.

October 5, 2004 Daily Record
In other business, the council:
— Discussed the effect of a spate of escapes from the newly opened Cornell juvenile detention facility on placement of the combined middle-elementary school at the Four Mile ranch. Havens said the city has little jurisdiction because "the placement of a school is usually a matter of right in all zones." Mortensen recommended the council draft a resolution to the school board stating "it's a bad idea to place a school near a correctional facility, such as Cornell." One of the primary concerns has been the lag time between when Cornell has discovered escapes and when law enforcement officials and the public have been notified.

October 1, 2004 KOAA
Three juvenile convicts are sitting in a Colorado Springs detention center after escaping from a new Canon City mental facility. The teenagers apparently broke out of the Cornell Southern Peaks Treatment Center and walked all the way to Florence, where police noticed their suspicious behavior and picked them up.
The Cornell facility has been open less than two months.

January 30, 2004
A subsidiary of Cornell Companies, Inc. (the "Company") executed an agreement in June 2003 to purchase a correctional facility to be built in Colorado – the Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center (the "Center") – upon completion of its construction. In late August 2003, in connection with the transaction, the Company deposited approximately $12.9 million of the purchase price (the "Funds") into an escrow account to assure the developer's construction lender of the Company's ability and willingness to purchase the Center upon completion. After funding the escrow account, and after repeated unsuccessful attempts by the Company and its counsel to obtain confirmation of the wire transfer and the interest accrued since the date of the wire transfer, the Company was informed in early December 2003, that (i) the bank purportedly serving as escrow agent claimed its signature to the escrow agreement had been forged and that the escrow agreement was not an obligation of the bank; (ii) the Funds were not held in an escrow account at the bank, but were held instead in one of the construction lender's bank accounts; and (iii) certain of the Funds had been released from such bank account prior to completion of the Center, in contravention of the terms of the escrow agreement.  The Company immediately began an investigation to locate the Funds and to determine the circumstances that resulted in their misappropriation. In the process of trying to locate the Funds and establish a valid escrow arrangement, the construction lender and the developer of the Center represented to the Company that the Funds were then being held in a bank in Florida which had agreed to be the escrow agent under a new escrow agreement. Subsequently, the bank in Florida confirmed to the Company that an account had been established with deposits totaling $12.9 million and that it was willing to serve as the escrow agent under a new escrow agreement. After executing a new escrow agreement with the Florida bank, the Company learned that the available funds in the new escrow account totaled only $5.0 million. The Florida bank later advised the Company that the remaining $7.9 million of deposits in the new escrow account had been deposited in the form of a check drawn on a foreign bank account. The foreign check, although deposited for collection, was never paid.  Accordingly, the Company initiated legal proceedings under theories of fraud, conversion, breach of contract and other theories to determine the location of and to recover the Funds. The Company has obtained temporary restraining orders freezing any and all financial accounts of the construction lender, one of its principals and certain other defendants identified during discovery. The frozen accounts include one of the construction lender's bank accounts which contains approximately $250,000.  The Company has learned in discovery that approximately $700,000 of the Funds was advanced to the general contractor to fund construction of the Center, and that approximately $1.6 million was advanced to the developer. Construction of the Center is ongoing and progress to date is within the agreed time schedule, but the ability to continue construction in the absence of a valid construction loan remains in doubt. The Company remains committed to the Center and is exploring possibilities for its completion.  Certain of the defendants in the lawsuit filed by the Company have represented to the Company on several occasions that up to $7.9 million would be delivered to the Florida bank restore the Funds, including a representation on January 23, 2004, that $7.9 million would be delivered on January 27, 2004. To date, no amount has been received as represented. As a result, based on current information, the Company believes its potential maximum exposure is approximately $7.9 million plus any attorneys' fees and costs associated with its investigation and the legal proceedings discussed above.  The Company is unable at this time to determine the ultimate outcome of this matter.  (Yahoo.com)

Tallahatchie Correctional Facility
Tutwiler, Mississippi
CCA
March 12 2006 AP
A group of Colorado inmates who started a riot at a private prison in Mississippi in 2004 so they could be transferred back to Colorado will force lawmakers to review their policy that allowed the Department of Corrections to ship troublemakers out of state. This week, The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on a measure (Senate Bill 23) prohibiting the Department of Corrections from placing state inmates classified higher than medium custody in private prison facilities located within Colorado or outside the state. The only exception would allow the governor to declare a correctional emergency and by proclamation authorize the department to place state inmates classified higher than medium custody in private prison facilities. Rep. Val Vigil, D-Thornton, said an audit last year revealed that the state had no policy on shipping high risk inmates out of state, and that other states have no uniform way they treat low, medium or high risk prisoners. “We had to decide whether we should change the practice or change the statutes. We decided to change the statutes,” Vigil said. The disturbance occurred a day after a similar riot at Crowley Correctional Facility, a private prison near Olney Springs, Colo. At Crowley, inmates rioted and set fires, destroying one living unit and extensively damaging four others. Both private prisons were operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which was criticized by lawmakers for not hiring enough employees at the Crowley facility. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said Colorado has a duty to protect its inmates, and the state can’t guarantee that when it sends them to other states which have their own rules. “One thing government has to do is ensure public safety. That includes inmates,” McFadyen said.

December 26, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Acting Public Safety Director Frank Lopez has ordered a prison system internal affairs investigation into a violent disturbance in a Mississippi prison earlier this year that resulted in injuries to two Hawai'i inmates. The incident at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Center began when 20 cell doors in a prison disciplinary unit abruptly opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17, releasing about three dozen Hawai'i inmates from their cells. The unit was reserved for particularly unruly convicts or prison gang members, and some of the inmates who emerged from their cells immediately attacked prisoner Ronnie Lonoaea in his cell, prison officials have said. Lonoaea was hospitalized after the attack with head and other injuries, and inmate Scott Lee, 25, suffered a broken jaw in the disturbance. Inmates used a telephone cord to tie shut the entrance to the Special Housing Incentive Program unit to keep corrections officers out, and Tallahatchie prison staff had to drop tear gas grenades from the roof to regain control of the unit about 90 minutes later. Hawai'i Department of Public Safety officials demanded a "high level" investigation of the incident, and Lopez said prison owner Corrections Corporation of America submitted a letter to the state outlining the company's findings. Lopez said the summary of the CCA findings suggested the doors opened because an officer accidentally pushed the wrong button. Prison officials have said a relief sergeant pushed the button that released the inmates, and both the sergeant and the captain responsible for overseeing the unit no longer work at the prison.

October 3, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
This tiny town has a slow feel to it. Some of that is a testament to southern graciousness, when people make time for one another. Some of it is due to a menacing apathy that festers when people are out on the street with nowhere to go. This community in the North Delta region, described in federal reports as one of the most depressed areas of the country, is where the Corrections Corp. of America built the 1,104-bed Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in 2000. The prison holds more than 850 Hawai'i inmates. The 325 jobs at the prison offer the best-paying work around, said chief of security Danny Dodd. CCA's starting pay in Tutwiler is about $8.40 an hour, considerably less than the $13.20 an hour for new corrections officers in Hawai'i, but Dodd said there is no shortage of applicants. There is significant staff turnover, which means the prison is often short-handed. Tutwiler resident Mary Meeks said her husband pulls double shifts at the prison as often as twice a week because people quit or don't show up for work. Some residents said they were led to believe the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility would hold only Mississippi lawbreakers, and were alarmed to learn the company was importing prisoners. Contract monitors last year described the Mississippi staff as young and inexperienced, and said most had never worked in a prison before. CCA requires five weeks of training, compared with eight weeks for Hawai'i corrections officers. According to monitoring reports, in the first six months after the Hawai'i inmates arrived, several employees were fired for smuggling cigarettes into the prison and having inappropriate relationships with inmates - a problem that has arisen at other Mainland prisons where Hawai'i prisoners have been held. Inmates complain about the medical and dental services at Tallahatchie, gripes that were confirmed last year when Hawai'i prison monitors warned CCA the prison was failing to meet National Commission on Correctional Health Care Standards because a doctor was there only eight hours a week to care for almost 1,000 convicts. In May, the monitors warned that dental services were insufficient because a dentist was available only eight hours a week, but the backlog of inmates waiting for dental care had been somewhat reduced when inspectors returned last month. CCA does not attempt to separate gang-affiliated prisoners, and inmates said keeping rival gang members in the same unit can be dangerous when things go wrong. There has already been one disturbance in a unit that houses gang members at Tallahatchie. On July 17, 20 cell doors in a SHIP unit popped open unexpectedly at around 2:45 a.m., freeing inmates. Ronnie J. Lonoaea, 32, of Hawai'i was severely beaten in his cell before guards released tear gas and restored order about 90 minutes later. Scott Lee of Hawai'i, who suffered a broken jaw in the incident, recalled how some prisoners in the unit frantically tried to close their jammed cell doors because they feared an attack by fellow inmates. A CCA investigation concluded the cell doors probably opened because a corrections sergeant hit the wrong control button. Komori said the sergeant and a captain who supervised the unit no longer work at the prison.

August 23, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
A prison sergeant who hit the wrong button probably is to blame for abruptly opening 20 cell doors in a Mississippi prison disciplinary unit last month, releasing about three dozen Hawai'i inmates and triggering a violent disturbance, prison officials said yesterday. Two prisoners in the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility unit were hospitalized after other inmates attacked them when the cell doors opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17. One of the inmates, Ronnie Lonoaea, remains in a Mississippi rehabilitative hospital with head injuries. After the doors opened, two inmates immediately began fighting and eight others rushed into a single cell to attack Lonoaea, prison officials have said. Other inmates used a telephone cord to tie shut the door leading into the unit in a makeshift barricade to keep prison officials out, according to a report on the incident. The Tallahatchie prison staff dropped tear gas grenades from the roof into the Special Housing Incentive Program, or SHIP unit, and regained control of the unit about 90 minutes after the cell doors opened, according to the report.

July 28, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
They're out of sight, but must not be out of mind. Hawai'i's overflow inmate population, housed at private prisons on the Mainland, remain our responsibility. And making sure they are treated humanely while serving their time must be our concern. That's why state officials are right to demand an investigation into the sudden opening of cell doors in the predawn hours of July 17 at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility that resulted in a riot. More than 700 Hawai'i inmates have been housed since last year at the Mississippi prison, owned by Corrections Corp. of America. Two inmates were injured in the fight. Kane'ohe resident Sandra Cooper, the mother of one inmate, has her doubts that an internal probe will be enough to bring out the truth about how the cell doors opened. She called on the FBI to do a thorough inquiry, and that indeed would be the ideal way to proceed here. There's precedent for the FBI to take jurisdiction in a case where inmates are brought across state lines. At the very least, an independent authority should drive the investigation, rather than the prison's private owners. And state officials here must continue to ride herd to see that the investigation proceeds to a satisfactory conclusion. In a separate prison issue, it's a relief to see that the state has decided to pull the plug on its contract with the troubled Brush Correctional Facility, a northeastern Colorado prison housing 80 women inmates from Hawai'i. Because of ongoing investigations into alleged sexual misconduct between staff and prisoners, it's imperative that the move be made as soon as possible, while allowing for careful scrutiny of the prisoners' next destination. The end-of-September target date for the move seems reasonable, assuming that the state maintain its careful monitoring of Brush in the meantime. These painful episodes clearly illustrate that housing inmates on the Mainland is merely a short-term response to our critical prison shortage here, and creates its own additional problems. Hawai'i must continue to: work toward expanded prison capacity in the Islands, where we can retain better control of conditions; strengthen the probation system to keep some first-time offenders out of prison; and work on preventive strategies aimed at stemming the tide in drug abuse, which fuels so much of the state's crime problem. Sending inmates to the Mainland is just a stopgap solution.

July 27, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
State prison officials said yesterday they are concerned about a security breach at a Mississippi prison that led to a disturbance among Hawai'i inmates and landed two men in the hospital with broken jaws.  The incident began when 20 cell doors in a unit at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility used to confine inmates with suspected gang affiliations popped open unexpectedly at about 2:30 a.m. July 17. About 35 of the 40 inmates in the unit left their cells and two of the prisoners began fighting, said Hawai'i Department of Public Safety spokesman Michael Gaede.
While corrections officers were preoccupied with the brawl, eight inmates rushed into a cell to attack another prisoner, Gaede said.

June 3, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The 120 Colorado inmates who are serving sentences in Mississippi are being treated inhumanely, according to one inmate. Officials at the Colorado Department of Corrections, however, say they are treated no different than inmates at the Colorado State Penitentiary. According to Colorado inmate Clark Flood, 40, who has been convicted of burglary, criminal trespass and escape charges, the inmates in Mississippi are being held in lockdown in what he described as "inhumane conditions." "They are not giving us property or nothing. It's just solid lockdown and it is ridiculous," Flood said.

February 5, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
A Hawai'i prisoner at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss., was returned to the prison yesterday after a suicide attempt. Convicted murderer Paul Ah Sing, 41, was rushed to the hospital Thursday after he apparently attempted to hang himself in his cell with a homemade rope. The state has a contract with the Corrections Corporation of America to hold about 700 inmates at the Tallahatchie prison because there is no room for them in Hawai'i prisons.

Officials at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility have promised to keep residents better informed about disturbances at the prison in the wake of last month's uprising by Colorado inmates. Residents near the prison complained they weren't told about what was happening at the jail during the July 21 riot when prisoners torched mattresses, clothing and a portable toilet. (Sun Herald, August 13, 2004)

August 2, 2004
Tutwiler prison officials say they will be adding more staff this week and will host a community meeting following a recent disturbance by unruly Colorado inmates at the private facility.  There are no plans to send the trouble-making inmates back to Colorado, as some residents have asked, said Louise Chickering, a spokeswoman for Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the prison.  She said the company also won't go along with a request by residents to create an alert system to warn them of future disturbances.  The first major disruption at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility will be discussed at an Aug. 12 meeting between Tutwiler's community relations advisory council and Warden James Cooke. 
Cooke said the additional staff is not a direct result of the disturbance.  "We will be getting more (inmates) from Hawaii,'' Cooke said. The facility now houses about 850 inmates, with a capacity of a little more than 1,000 inmates. There are about 120 inmates from Colorado, 690 from Hawaii and 40 from Tallahatchie County.  (Clarion Ledger)

Coahoma and Tallahatchie counties will pay local expenses involved in dispatching law officers to the uprising at the privately-run prison in Tutwiler.  Coahoma County Sheriff Andrew Thompson Jr. said his department alone spent about $400 on gasoline and overtime July 21.  Officers were called from the Coahoma and Tallahatchie sheriff's departments, Tutwiler and Glendora police departments, the Tutwiler and Tallahatchie County fire departments, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the State Penitentiary at Parchman.  Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America — the Nashville, Tenn.-based company that runs the prison — called the disturbance in which no one was injured "relatively small."  Owen said his company does reimburse local agencies that respond to prison riots "if the agency feels its resources have been severely tapped."  Finally, as the largest employer in the county, CCA pays its 260 employees — most of whom reside in Tallahatchie and surrounding counties — roughly $3.5 million combined annually.  (Clarion Ledger, July 26, 2004)

Troubles seem to keep mounting this month for the nation's largest operator of private prisons. Corrections Corporation of America suffered through two prison riots this week - one in Colorado and another in Mississippi. The uprisings follow a July 7 homicide at a Nashville facility, which is still being investigated, and a smaller uprising in Oklahoma.  The spate of bad news is providing fodder for critics of privately run prisons and prompting a slight drop in CCA's stock price. In the prison industry, no news is often good news.  "I think the idea of privately operated prisons is one that is still controversial," said Richard Crane, a consultant in the industry and former CCA attorney. "(Bad incidents) give those who are opposed to privatization something to beat their drum about."  Critics said the string of problems shows that privately run prisons are a bad idea, and that grouping prisoners from multiple states under the care of low-paid, often inexperienced guards will lead to trouble.  "Almost half of the employees in the facility have no experience whatsoever," said Ken Kopczynski, with the Private Corrections Institute Inc., an advocacy group opposing private prisons. "I just hope enough people will wake up to the bad idea of private prisons. It just goes against all the principles of democracy."  (Henry Herald, July 23, 2004)

Some Tutwiler residents are demanding an alert system and stronger security measures following Wednesday night's disturbance by 28 Colorado inmates at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility.  Tutwiler resident Lucinda Berryhill said she was "frightened not knowing" what was happening when she heard police car sirens and fire trucks on U.S. 49 heading toward the prison. Phone lines at the prison were busy and rumors of prison escapes were rampant, she said.  Currently, there is no system in place to alert residents when an incident is occurring at the facility and what measures should be taken.  "I'd send the troublemakers back,'' said Berryhill, who lives a half mile from the prison. They need to return immediately to Colorado, she said.  (Clarion Ledger, July 23, 2004)

A riot involving 28 Colorado inmates who escaped their recreation pens and set ablaze mattresses, clothing and a portable toilet triggered a lock-down Wednesday night at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility.  A more violent riot erupted around the same time a day earlier at another CCA prison in Colorado's Crowley County. Officials did not report a connection between the two riots.  Those involved in Wednesday's uprising were among Colorado's "worst" inmates shipped to the Tutwiler lockup in May. Booted from their home state after causing six riots during a three-month period, the prisoners instigated the most recent uprising during the first one-hour recreation break they had been given since entering the facility two months ago.  According to Louise Chickering, CCA spokeswoman, the incident started at 6:20 p.m. when one inmate broke the lock and chains on the segregated pen that held him and another inmate.  "Once he got it loose, the others assessed that they could, too," she said, explaining that 28 men broke out of their two-man pens and gathered into the main recreation yard.  Law-enforcement officials were called from the Coahoma and Tallahatchie counties sheriff's departments, Tutwiler and Glendora police departments, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman "as a show of force," Chickering said.  Prison officials said Wednesday that they didn't know yet why the inmates rioted, but one Colorado prisoner offered a possible clue in a letter sent to The Clarksdale Press Register this week.  Harrell King Jr. III wrote that more than 100 prisoners had waged a hunger strike recently to draw attention to their "case of brutality and mistreatment at this facility."  "Since coming to this facility, we have had inmates cutting their wrist, being beat, having to defecate in bags, on 24-hour lockdown and many other violations of human rights," Harrell wrote. "By the time you receive this letter, we will have not eaten in five days."  (Z Wire, July 23, 2004)

About 28 inmates from Colorado caused an uprising Wednesday evening at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, officials said.  The prisoners involved were recently shipped to the Mississippi facility to rid Colorado's crowded prisons of unruly inmates.  The disturbance occurred during the prisoners' recreation break about 6:20 p.m. and lasted about 30 minutes, said Louise Chickering, spokeswoman for the Corrections Corporations of America.  (Clarion Ledger, July 22, 2004)

May 23, 2004
The Colorado Department of Corrections violated a state statute by sending 36 of its most dangerous inmates to the Delta, said a prisoner-advocate group that might challenge the move in an attempt to bring the men home.  According to the statute, Colorado cannot permanently place maximum-security inmates in a private prison. But the three dozen men shipped to the privately run Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility near Tutwiler last week are classified as maximum-security, said Stephen Raher, co-director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, calling the move illegal.  Colorado officials countered that assertion, saying the men - many of whom are serving sentences for murder, rape and escape - are not maximum-security prisoners; they are "special management" inmates.  "We have yet to find one of these organizations or individuals who can substantiate any of these claims, except maybe for an isolated incident that may have occurred years ago," Owen said. "I would challenge them to prove any of these allegations."  (Z Wire)

The Villas (AKA: The Restitution Center)
Greeley, Colorado
Intervention Inc. (formerly run by Avalon and then temporarily by CEC)

July 8, 2008 Greeley Tribune
In the wake of a report revealing numerous problems with the Weld County community corrections program, Intervention Inc. has taken over operations of the program now named Intervention Community Correction Services. With the new name also comes a new facility at the Weld County Jail. Jim Greco, program director for Intervention Inc., said that all of an estimated 100 residents have been relocated and that the transition went smoothly. The prior halfway house at 1750 6th Ave. is still owned by Avalon Correctional Services Inc., and Intervention Inc. does not own a facility in Weld County. As a result, Intervention Inc. will rent three new jail pods from the Weld County Sheriff's Office temporarily for its operation. Greco said while the facility is a jail, it is never locked and clients are free to come and go as they please until their 11 p.m. curfew.

June 25, 2008 Greeley Tribune
Residents of Greeley's halfway house, The Villa, will move to the jail Monday with Intervention Inc. taking control of the community corrections services. Kevin Strobel, chairman of the Weld County Board of Community Corrections, said Intervention Inc. was awarded the request for proposal on June 4 in light of a reports detailing several problems in the operation of The Villa including sexual liaisons in what became known as the "Boom-Boom Room," and a tunnel that held weapons and drug paraphernalia. Community Education Centers, Inc. of New Jersey entered an agreement in May with The Villa's owners Avalon Correctional Services Inc. of Oklahoma to provide services until the end of the fiscal year on July 1. Strobel said Intervention Inc. does not have a facility in Greeley, and will rent three new pods from the Weld County Sheriff's Office temporarily to operate. Clients under CEC's supervision are to be transferred Monday to Intervention Inc.'s supervision at the jail. While the facility will be housed at the jail, 1950 O St., Strobel said it will not be locked and will operate as a community corrections facility separate from the jail. In the coming year, it is expected that either Interventions or Weld County will build a facility for the program. The Villa -- also known as The Restitution Center at 1750 6th Ave. -- is still owned by Avalon. The CEC is suing Weld County for awarding the contract to Intervention Inc. Strobel said the Weld County Board of Community Corrections deems Interventions an appropriate management company, and he expects the transition to be safe. The changes come based on Weld corrections officials' March request for new operators to bid on running the program. A Colorado Public Safety Report on The Villa cited several violations such as: Unqualified staff members, staff members having sexual relations with inmates, falsified drug tests and a lack of sufficient security.

April 30, 2008 Greeley Tribune
Greeley’s halfway house The Villa may change operation managers soon. The Villa -- also known as The Restitution Center --currently owned by Avalon Correctional Services Inc. of Oklahoma, could be taken over by Community Education Centers, Inc. The company is considering a management agreement with Southern Corrections Systems, Inc. who own Avalon, said Tiffany Smith, vice president of marketing and communications for Avalon, in an e-mail interview. Kevin Strobel, chairman of the Weld County Board of Community Corrections, said CEC is currently negotiating with Avalon to assume operations of all of Avalon’s five community corrections programs in Colorado, including The Villa. He anticipates the deal to be completed in a matter of days. Weld county community corrections board deemed CEC is a proper and safe operator, Strobel said based on their current operations of six facilities in Colorado. “They are a tested and trusted community corrections operator,” said Strobel, who added CEC’s management of The Villa would last through the end of the fiscal year in June. At that time the board of community corrections will choose a management company based on the RFPs, or Request for Proposals. CEC is expected to submit a RFP, Strobel said. Weld County Commissioners voted today to approve the management contract once it has been signed and approved by SCS and CEC, said Strobel and Smith. Upon completion of the Agreement, CEC will be responsible for meeting terms and conditions of all existing contracts with the 19th Judicial District, including staffing and day to day operations. And all employees at SCS facilities in Colorado would become employees of Community Education Centers, Inc. at that time, said Smith in the e-mail. The change comes in the wake of a Weld County corrections officials March request for new operators to bid on running the program. The RFPs were based on a Colorado Public Safety Report which cited several violations such as: Unqualified staff members, staff members having sexual relations with inmates, falsified drug tests and a lack of sufficient security. While a recent audit of the facility showed the staff has improved in several areas, the Weld board still requested the bids for a new operator for a community corrections facility.

April 17, 2008 Greeley Tribune
In an attempt to improve upon the services provided by The Villa halfway house in Greeley, Weld County corrections officials Wednesday sent out a request for new operators to bid on running the program. The RFPs, or Requests for Proposals, were sent out Wednesday to operators who have shown an interest in taking over the community corrections facilities in Greeley. If another company other than The Villa wins the proposal bid, the new facility will likely be moved to a former nursing home on East 18th Street. The new proposals are due May 15. The Villa community corrections facility located in east Greeley came under close scrutiny last year when several violations of policy were reported. Although a recent audit of the facility came back showing the staff has improved in several areas, the Weld board is still requesting bids for a new operator for a community corrections facility. The Villa -- also known as The Restitution Center -- is owned by Avalon Correctional Services Inc. of Oklahoma. The Colorado state investigation earlier this year showed several violations, including: « Unqualified staff members, « staff members having sexual relations with inmates, « falsified drug tests, « and a lack of sufficient security. In the first report, 79 percent of the areas investigated were rated as either "needs improvement" or unsatisfactory." The Weld County Board of Community Corrections then hired a monitor -- retired chief probation officer Mike Reade -- who spent 60 days observing The Villa and checking its efforts to improve the facility. His final report will show improvement during the 60-day inspection, but it also will recommend a new director of the facility. That report will officially be released next week, after The Villa has had time to respond to Reade's findings. Villa Director Matt Brucklacher said Wednesday that despite what the report states about him, "my staff has done an outstanding job of correcting the problems." Those corrections, according to Reade, include changes in operations, security and drug testing. "The Villa was a broken program," Reade writes in his final report, "and over the past five months, management has been putting the pieces back together." According to Sharon Behrens, administrative coordinator for Weld Community Corrections, The Villa also will be able to bid on the new contract for community facilities. She said this is the first time other contractors other than The Villa's owners have been sought for bids. The Villa already has suffered one blow from the state Department of Corrections. The facility's contract for a 45-day drug and alcohol program has been terminated for next year, which involves about half of The Villa's population. Administrators already have started cutting staff to handle the decrease in inmates and programs. Inmates required to complete drug and alcohol programs will be sent to either Island Grove Treatment Center or facilities outside of Weld County.

February 12, 2008 Greeley Tribune
After a state commission's scathing investigation into The Villa, a Greeley restitution facility, the Weld County Community Corrections Board will ask for offers from other private corrections facilities to possibly move into town and provide competition for The Villa. The Villa, also known as The Restitution Center, was the subject of a recent investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Safety. In its report, the state agency revealed numerous problems, including sexual contact between employees and inmates, a hidden tunnel with drugs and paraphernalia, and easily falsified drug tests by the inmates. Public Defender Kevin Strobel, chairman of the Weld community corrections board, said Monday the board knew of some problems at The Villa but not the full extent that were uncovered by the state investigation. "We've talked to The Villa directors about several problems in the past," Strobel said Monday. "But because of the investigation, we've now appointed a monitor to oversee their efforts for the next 60 days." The monitor is Mike Reide, a retired chief probation officer with Jefferson County. After 60 days, he will report to the community board about The Villa's progress. "If they can get their act together by then," Strobel said, "we might not need to bring in another correction facility." But the board already has submitted a letter asking other private corrections companies to submit ideas for a new program that could replace or compete with The Villa. Strobel said the board has often tried to get the administration at The Villa to correct the turnover problem with employees. In its report, the state said, "... in the fiscal year 2006, The Villa employed security staff members for an average of 6.6 months. The comparable statewide average was 23.1 months." It also stated case managers stayed on the job at The Villa an average of 25.7 months, while the statewide average was 39.4 months. ABOUT THE VILLA -- The Villa, 1750 6th Ave. in Greeley, is a halfway house in which inmates are housed in the old University of Northern Colorado dormitories but allowed to work in the community during the day. The Villa also provides counseling and drug rehabilitation programs. It is owned by Avalon Correctional Services Inc., an Oklahoma-based company that owns 14 correctional facilities, including four in Colorado.