GOV. BILL Ritter's administration is trying to devise a way to open at least part of the brand new Colorado State Penitentiary, a mothballed prison near Canon City much needed for its high-security features.
Ari Zavaras, director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, revealed last week that, despite a tight state budget, the Ritter administration recognizes the dire need for more high-security beds. The state has to find a way to separate hard-core violent convicts from other inmates.
"Violence in the prisons has been escalating for quite a while," Mr. Zavaras told The Pueblo Chieftain. "We have not built a high-security bed since 1999."
Construction on the new penitentiary, located in the East Canon Complex, will be completed this summer. But the governor has put staffing it on hold because the state cannot afford to hire the estimated 500 work force to operate the new 948-bed prison.
The prison, dubbed CSP II, is designed structurally to house high-risk convicts, who also can be segregated 24 hours a day from other inmates. Mr. Zavaras said a partial solution may be to open just one of the three 316-bed towers sometime this year and to wait until the state budget picture brightens before opening the remaining 632 beds.
We support the Ritter administration's quest for at least a partial answer to prison violence that is intensified by an inadequate number of high-security beds. The state must place a premium on public safety, including in the prisons.
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.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010