WALSENBURG —The possible closing of the private prison and loss of almost 200 jobs have leaders in this small, close-knit town voicing fear about the impact the shutting down could have on a tenuous economy.
When Mayor Bruce Quintana heard last month the news that the second largest employer in Huerfano County may close, he said he was in disbelief and immediately concerned about the future economy of the town and county.
Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates the Huerfano County Correctional Center, announced last month that it will suspend operations at the prison in April.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other state officials are phasing out all out-of-state beds, including the use of the Huerfano facility, where 700 Arizona inmates are housed. The contract with CCA is set to expire March 9.
As a result, CCA will be closing the Walsenburg facility, which employs a staff of 188. Approximately 75 of the prison employees commute to the Walsenburg prison from Pueblo.
Of the remaining workers, about 90 reside in Walsenburg and Huerfano County, with others commuting from Trinidad and Colorado City.
Soon after the announcement of the closure Allan Cramer, a spokesman for the facility, told The Pueblo Chieftain that the next step, beginning in March, is to start the process of transporting Arizona inmates back home.
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.
Thursday, February 11, 2010