CANON CITY - 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.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Sunday, October 25, 2009