DENVER - Colorado should begin serious talks about expanding some of its state-owned prisons, the head of the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee said Tuesday.
Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, is upset that private prison companies operating in the state incarcerate about 20 percent of all state inmates. He says with one company running four of the five private prisons here, they have too great a negotiating position and can dictate terms to the Legislature.
One such company, Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, is requesting a 5 percent hike in the per diem rate the state pays it or it will bar Colorado inmates from being housed in one of its facilities.Because of that, and years of emphasis on private prisons under former GOP Gov. Bill Owens in general, Buescher advised the Legislature's Capital Development Committee to give serious thought to funding some expansion proposals for state facilities that previously were rated low on its priority list.
And that includes Trinidad Correctional Facilities and a slew of others in Southern Colorado.
"This would force the state of Colorado to accelerate the construction of prison capacity," Buescher told the six-member CDC, which prioritizes construction projects for the Legislature. "On your list laid out as No. 61 (Trinidad), that could be a project that we have to accelerate in order to deal with this problem."
The Pueblo Chieftain