Canon City Daily Record
After years of waiting and building, one tower of the expanded Centennial Correctional Facility is ready for its first round of inmates. “There’s a lot of history with this from lawsuits to being our own supervising agent on the project,” said DOC Executive Director Ari Zavaras on Wednesday at the dedication ceremony. “There are a lot of things that went into it.”
The expansion, which was originally built under the name Colorado State Penitentiary II, is a high security prison. When the facility is fully open, it will house 948 administrative segregation inmates.
The one tower that is currently opening — no plans are yet in place to open the other two towers — will house 316 inmates by Sept. 30. Beginning Sept. 1, the facility will begin accepting 15 inmates a day through the end of the month. About half the inmates, 150 will come from the statewide administrative segregation wait-list and 166 will come from the Colorado State Penitentiary, making room for that facility to house the system’s mentally ill inmates.
The expansion’s opening has been bumped several times throughout the past seven years — most recently because of funding issues during the state’s budget crisis, which would have prevented staffing it.
This spring, the General Assembly approved $10.8 million to open the tower. As a consequence, the state’s only boot-camp prison program for adult inmates, located in Buena Vista, has been closed, saving the state almost $1 million.
Ground was broken on the facility in August 2007 after lengthy court battles challenging legislation signed by then-Gov. Bill Owens authorizing the construction in 2003.
Attorney General John Suthers said the opening was overdue and that adequate high security beds are absolutely essential for the safety of everyone — inmates and officers — in Department of Corrections.
The expansion, Suthers said, is a “much needed addition to the Colorado Department of Corrections.”
“We will all be a lot better off with this facility,” Zavaras said. “We have a very solid program in place. This is an essential tool.”
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.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Canon City Daily Record