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Solid Future Forecasted for SD 5 Prisons

October 2nd, 2013

Filed under Home Page, In The News

A national research firm recently presented the findings of a study examining the Colorado prison system to a legislative panel. The study specifically focused on the ability to meet correctional housing needs in the near future. This study is important for rural communities like Delta and Buena Vista because shifting prison populations have the potential to impact corrections employees and neighboring communities.

Colorado has followed a national trend of falling prison populations for roughly the past five years. This decrease is due, in part, to statutory reform, fewer arrests and lower crime rates. The shrinking population left prisons with more vacant beds than was expected just a few years ago. Some observers expressed concern that these vacancies could lead to prison closures or layoffs for employees. As of 2012, Colorado employed just over 3,700 correctional staff employees. Since many of our state’s correctional facilities are in rural areas, any layoffs have the potential for a disproportionate negative impact upon small communities.

The state commissioned a national research firm, CNA Analysis & Solutions, to study Colorado’s prison system. The study’s researchers recommended that all of the nearly twenty five facilities continue to operate at current capacity. The research indicates that the recent decrease in inmates will slow down. While projections vary, the consensus opinion is that inmate populations will not only level off but likely increase slightly over the next five years due to Colorado’s increasing population. However, the study’s prediction of a modest inmate rise is not a result of higher crime rates. As our state continues to grow, we should expect our need for correctional housing to follow suit.

This spells good news for Senate District 5 communities like Delta and Buena Vista. The facilities in those communities, Delta Correctional Facility and Buena Vista Correctional Complex, are among others in a category called Tier 2. The research found that these facilities are among the best suited to meet the projected increase in housing needs. One projection even calls for reopening 350 beds in Buena Vista by 2018. Both Delta and Buena Vista facilities jointly employ about 275 people and are excellent candidates for potential expansion. At this time, the system is stable and no immediate changes are planned.

Correctional facilities function as an key economic pillar in our rural communities. Inmates serve an important role in local industries such as agriculture and firefighting, and inmates also benefit from the dedication of the community at the prison facility. I truly understand the deep impact that job security has on each and every employee’s family, friends and local economy. That is why I am encouraged by the study findings that show facilities like Delta and Buena Vista are not in jeopardy of closing; instead, they are likely to serve an even bigger role in the near future. This spells a bright forecast for our rural economies– and families. I will continue to vigilantly monitor any proposed prison changes and vigorously fight to protect the interests of all SD-5 residents.

Solid Future Forecasted for SD 5 Prisons

A national research firm recently presented the findings of a study examining the Colorado prison system to a legislative panel. The study specifically focused on the ability to meet correctional housing needs in the near future. This study is important for rural communities like Delta and Buena Vista because shifting prison populations have the potential to impact corrections employees and neighboring communities.

Colorado has followed a national trend of falling prison populations for roughly the past five years. This decrease is due, in part, to statutory reform, fewer arrests and lower crime rates. The shrinking population left prisons with more vacant beds than was expected just a few years ago. Some observers expressed concern that these vacancies could lead to prison closures or layoffs for employees. As of 2012, Colorado employed just over 3,700 correctional staff employees. Since many of our state’s correctional facilities are in rural areas, any layoffs have the potential for a disproportionate negative impact upon small communities.

The state commissioned a national research firm, CNA Analysis & Solutions, to study Colorado’s prison system. The study’s researchers recommended that all of the nearly twenty five facilities continue to operate at current capacity. The research indicates that the recent decrease in inmates will slow down. While projections vary, the consensus opinion is that inmate populations will not only level off but likely increase slightly over the next five years due to Colorado’s increasing population. However, the study’s prediction of a modest inmate rise is not a result of higher crime rates. As our state continues to grow, we should expect our need for correctional housing to follow suit.

This spells good news for Senate District 5 communities like Delta and Buena Vista. The facilities in those communities, Delta Correctional Facility and Buena Vista Correctional Complex, are among others in a category called Tier 2. The research found that these facilities are among the best suited to meet the projected increase in housing needs. One projection even calls for reopening 350 beds in Buena Vista by 2018. Both Delta and Buena Vista facilities jointly employ about 275 people and are excellent candidates for potential expansion. At this time, the system is stable and no immediate changes are planned.

Correctional facilities function as an key economic pillar in our rural communities. Inmates serve an important role in local industries such as agriculture and firefighting, and inmates also benefit from the dedication of the community at the prison facility. I truly understand the deep impact that job security has on each and every employee’s family, friends and local economy. That is why I am encouraged by the study findings that show facilities like Delta and Buena Vista are not in jeopardy of closing; instead, they are likely to serve an even bigger role in the near future. This spells a bright forecast for our rural economies– and families. I will continue to vigilantly monitor any proposed prison changes and vigorously fight to protect the interests of all SD-5 residents.