With 350 beds available Terry Maketa needs to make this work release facility a transition point for people returning from prison homeless to El Paso County. DOC could pay for their bed space until they can get established in the community and then begin to pay their way.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office was able to kill two birds with one stone. They were able to open up a new jail and have it pay for itself.
The new jail is located in the downtown Colorado Springs area on Tejon St.
The building used to be a maximum facility prison. Three years ago, it was shut down for safety reasons. It has now been converted into a minimum security prison for work release inmates.
Tuesday was the grand opening.
"We really just pumped new life into an old building," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.
Since the building was a jail, there was already a lot of material like beds, showers and steel bars that came into good use.
"Beds were pulled out saved and refurbished. We saved all the stainless steel shower units too," said Commander Mitch Lincoln with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
The county was also able to gather more than two-million pounds of steel which was sold for about $68,000. All of that money was put back into the project.
"Jail overcrowding is a serious issue here in El Paso County," said Jim Bensberg, El Paso County Commissioner for the 5Th District.
The work release prison will be able to hold 350 inmates. A huge help for the county's swelling cells. "We saved probably hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor," said Sheriff Maketa. That's because inmates did most of the work. They helped construct a jail many of them will be serving time in.
It saved the county a total of a quarter of a million dollars.
"They're still functioning members of society, paying their taxes and keeping their families afloat. So, it's a win, win for the whole community," said Commissioner Bensberg.
Inmates will be allowed to come and go for work. Even though the inmates are low risk inmates, they'll still be under constant surveillance.
"They want to see these inmates put to good use, instead of being warehoused," said Commissioner Bensberg.
The project cost 4-million dollars. But each inmate pays 22-dollars a day. County officials say they'll make 2-million dollars a year which covers the cost to run it plus a little extra.
Colorado Springs Gazette