CANON CITY — Some badly needed administrative segregation prison space will open up Wednesday, helping to relieve a backlog of dangerous prisoners and beef up security for the Department of Corrections.
DOC officials on Wednesday dedicated the state's newest $162 million prison. Formerly referred to as Colorado State Penitentiary II, the prison is now officially a part of neighboring Centennial prison at the East Canon Prison Complex.
Although the new prison consists of 948 administrative segregation beds, just one tower, which will house 316 inmates, will be opened. Because of budget constraints, there are no immediate plans to open the other two towers.
"On Sept. 1, we will start getting 15 inmates a day," said Lt. Chris Barr, intelligence supervisor for the prison. “We will be taking 150 inmates off the state-wide administrative-segregation waiting list and another 166 inmates from Colorado State Penitentiary."
The freed-up bed space at Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City will go to mentally ill prisoners, where eventually all 361 beds will be filled by mentally ill inmates, Barr said.
"It is all about having the right inmate in the right bed with the right programs," said Ari Zavaras, DOC executive director. "These are difficult economic times and we always need to be prudent with the resources we are given.
“We know this was a very difficult decision for the Legislature way back when it was first approved and more recently when they agreed to fund the opening of one tower. They knew the issues we were facing — it is about safety for the inmates and the staff," Zavaras said.