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Study shows slower prisoner population growth, no recommendation for immediate prison closures

DENVER — Thursday, June 20, 2013 — The Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) announced today the preliminary findings of prison study called for in legislation passed last year by the General Assembly.


Those findings show the recent drop in the prison population is tapering off and the prison population will begin to grow slightly in coming years. Under this scenario, the State does not need to close additional facilities for the foreseeable future but still may if the scenario changes.


In the event that current inmate population forecasts fall short, the study recommends that the privately-run Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center in El Paso County be considered for closure. Other facilities recommended for possible closure include Rifle, Kit Carson, Fourmile and Skyline Correctional Centers.


In light of several years of declining prison populations, the State has closed several facilities and bed units. Approximately 3,200 beds in both public and private facilities have been taken off-line since 2009. House Bill 12-1336 last year directed OSPB to contract for a study of Colorado’s prison system. The study was conducted by CNA, a non-profit research group.


In anticipation of the release of the study, representatives from OSPB, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade hosted a series of meetings in prison communities throughout Colorado. More than 500 community members attended these meetings, which were held in Sterling, Burlington, Limon, Colorado Springs, Crowley, Las Animas, Trinidad, Pueblo, Canon City, Buena Vista, Delta, Rifle and Hudson. The meetings were held to discuss the State’s plan for appropriately utilizing state prisons and assisting communities which may be adversely impacted by changes in utilization or prison closures.


When complete, the Prison Utilization Study will provide facts regarding the age and mission of Colorado’s prison facilities, a baseline projection of how many and what level of inmates the State can expect to have and a recommendation of which facilities should be considered for closure if forecasts fall short. The study will also provide economic impact information for areas of Colorado with a prison.


CNA will complete its report by the end of June. In the coming months and as state statute directs, OSPB will work with the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) of the General Assembly to compose a five-year plan for the prison system.


The immediate next steps are for OSPB to take feedback and comments from stakeholders, including community leaders and the Colorado Department of Corrections. OSPB and the JBC will determine a schedule for completing the five-year plan. A different list of potential closures may be included in the five-year plan, but no decisions have been made at this time.


More information can be found on the OSPB website at www.colorado.gov/ospb.