DENVER - The Legislature would have more flexibility in setting per diem inmate rates for private prisons under a bill introduced in the Colorado House.
Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, who introduced HB1363 with House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder, said the bill is needed so the Colorado Department of Corrections may have more say in programs that private prisons should offer inmates to help the state reduce recidivism.
McFadyen is an outspoken critic of private prisons who often has said private prisons are in the business of housing inmates and don't care if they re-offend.
She said current practice gives private prison companies the maximum per diem rate without regard to the services they actually offer.
"The intent is we want more programmatically intense programs, especially for parole," McFadyen said. "We need to work harder making sure that we do have the programs available to reintegrate those inmates into society."
McFadyen said the bill, which is scheduled to be heard today in the House Judiciary Committee encourages private prisons to help the state reduce recidivism.
She singled out one such private prison company as Cornell, which operates the Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs. Cornell specializes in programs designed to help inmates make the transition from incarnation to freedom, and it seems to be working.
McFadyen said the Legislature should reward companies such as that with a higher per diem so other private providers will see the benefit to offering similar programs.