Fewer inmates means Colorado may close more prisons

From the article: “Colorado’s prison population is falling so quickly that state officials are once again considering closing prisons — a tough discussion given that prisons are often big employers in the counties where they are located…Colorado is already at 7,500 fewer inmates than it once expected in 2013 and has closed three state prisons.”

I am amazed that Colorado has had such success, given that other states that have purposefully worked to reduce their populations (like Ohio) have been stumped.  According to the article, the state’s felony rates have dropped by a third.  The state has also passed legislation allowing inmates to earn more time off their sentences for good behavior.

Of course, as the article states, closing prisoners isn’t a win-win – or even easy.  The article mentions the loss of jobs for the counties in which the prisons are located, but my experience has been that the true issue comes with the combining of prison populations and the shifting of staff.  In this case, it appears that some of prisons were private, so those staff may have just been out of luck.  In Ohio, closures of prisons result in system-wide “bumping” of staff, as staff have the ability to bump into positions by seniority.  Inmates are generally unhappy with the changes, but it’s the staff who are generally truly disgruntled.  I haven’t seen a lot of news coming out Colorado, so they must have figured out the secret for how to close prisons effectively.

Read more here.
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