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A felon shortage?

Brief by Central Staff

Corrections – June 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

It might appear that way in Park County, where Civigenics, a private jail operator, said it wasn’t getting enough state prisoners to turn a profit and so it was pulling out of Park County.

The county built the jail a few years ago, and contracted with Civigenics to operate it. A few cells are reserved for county prisoners, while Civigenics planned to make most of its money by housing overflow prisoners for the state Department of Corrections.

But DOC hasn’t been sending enough prisoners, a Civigenics official told the Park County Commissioners on April 17, and so Civigenics gave its 180-day notice that it was terminating its contract with the county. The county still has 14 years of payments on the $4 million bond passed to build the jail.

Although Civigenics mentioned increased DOC prison capacity as a reason for the shortage of felons, rumors indicate that there’s really no shortage of prisoners — it’s that the state DOC had some problems with the jail’s operations, and was boarding its prisoners elsewhere when possible.

Civigenics used to manage the new Teller County jail in Woodland Park before the sheriff there terminated the agreement and assumed jail management himself.

Whether there are — or are not — enough felons to supplement new facilities has become a national topic, and will no doubt play a part in future discussions on building or upgrading Chaffee County’s jail.