Maxed Out

Shipping inmates to private prisons is Colorado's cheap solution to overcrowding and violence. But so far, it's cost plenty.

"These people are being bartered at $51 a day," she says. "There's something ethically wrong with that." Private prisons, she notes, have no financial incentive to help a prisoner succeed in becoming a productive member of society; their profit margin depends on filling beds.

It's essentially the same argument that prison reformers make: If state prisons committed more resources to education, job training, drug and alcohol treatment and other efforts to keep offenders from returning, they might have less need of the private operators.

But within the DOC, ad-seg is all the rage. In addition to CSP, the department has turned over 220 beds at its massive Sterling prison to administrative segregation and is in the process of converting the Centennial Correctional Facility to all ad-seg, all the time. And if that isn't enough, there's still room for the budget-minded traveler at Tallahatchie, though it's filling up fast.

Anthony Camera
Matthew Romero
Matthew Romero

"They know that if they present it as a public-safety issue, they can get away with it," Susan says, "when what they're really trying to do is save a few bucks."

For related stories visit our "Crime & Punishment" archive.

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muhutdafuga topcommenter

Didn't the worst president in modern history say the privatization would be all happy, happy, joy, joy?  This is just one of the many many many many failures of reaganomics.