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Proposed bill bars out-of-state prisoners

McFadyen pushing for policy regarding state’s for-profit prisons
James Bouknight
Daily Record Staff Writer
Feb 11, 2005

Spurred by an inmate riot this summer that caused substantial damage to a for-profit prison in Crowley County, state legislators have introduced a bill that could bar Colorado’s for-profit prisons from accepting prisoners from out of state.

In a report detailing events leading to the July 20 riot, the Colorado Department of Corrections determined the disturbance ensued soon after 198 inmates were transferred from the state of Washington and that inmates had informed prison officials before hand that correctional officers could be attacked after the inmates were relocated to the Crowley facility. The for-profit prison is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.

House Bill 05-1212, proposed by House District 47 Rep. Liane “Buffie” McFadyen, would bar out-of-state inmates from Colorado prisons, excluding a few specialized circumstances.

“It’s not a radical concept,” McFadyen said, pointing to a similar statute adopted by Utah. “It’s a reasonable approach to public safety and taxpayer savings.”

McFadyen has been an outspoken critic of for-profit prisons.

The bill would “put Colorado back into control of what criminals reside in our state,” she said.

She disputes the corrections department’s assertion that the use of corporate prisons saves taxpayers money and says that for-profit prisons are less safe than state run facilities.

Events at the Crowley County facility are prime evidence for her case, she said, emphasizing the state provided emergency personnel, specialized prison-riot response teams and other services to the private for-profit company.

Any criminal charges against out-of-state-prisoners will cost Colorado even more to move those cases through the justice system, McFadyen said.

“When they go to court, we’re going to pay those charges,” she said. “Had they not been here, we wouldn’t be facing those costs.”

Inmates from different states are not always treated alike, creating conflict.

In its report, the Department of Corrections determined inmates convicted in this state are paid less than those from Wyoming and Washington that were being held at the facility. Inmates from Colorado are paid $18.60 per month compared to as much as $60 per month for out-of-state inmates, and this difference, among other factors, may have contributed to an escalation of violence at the facility, the report said.

Aside from a questionable safety record and unproven savings for taxpayers, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Brandon Shaffer, said for-profit prisons are morally questionable.

“Private prisons create an incentive to put more people in prison so those companies can turn a profit,” Shaffer said. “It creates the wrong kind of incentive.”

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