As a result of a slow crime rate throughout Colorado, one member of the Joint Budget Committee, a board of reviewers that analyzes state government departments, predicts the state may see fewer private prisons in years to come.
The crime rate has dropped three times in the past five years, with an 8 percent decrease in incarcerations since 2008. According to the Colorado Department of Corrections, the current capacity of Colorado prisons are declining despite what analysts predicted would be a large crime rise by 2013.
â€œIn our prisons we are actually seeing a decline in the number of inmates, and this proposal continues to invest in anti-recidivism programs because they are working,â€ said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.
Coloradoâ€™s 20 private and four public correctional facilities and centers have seen a slow drop-off in capacity and a gradual increase in releases of adults in the last few years; 10,803 inmates were released in 2008, while 8,954 were released in the 2004-2005 fiscal year.
This is due to lower crime rates, along with Ritterâ€™s 2009 anti-recidivism programs that emphasize rehabilitation, alternative sentencing and more effort to find housing once released.
â€œReally the most important thing for them coming out is housing and a job,â€ said Patrick Brodhead, the analyst of the corrections division of the JBC.
The abundance of beds has called for prisoners from Alaska to move to Hudson, Colo.â€™s private Hudson Correctional Facility last year. Coloradoâ€™s Womenâ€™s Correctional Facility in Canyon City shut down last year due to the staggering decline in female inmates.
Gov. Ritter released the 2011-2012 budget to the JBC this past Wednesday and discussed its effect on the corrections system.
The staff cut is a statewide initiative to slash $10 million in general funds requests to offset the Colorado rising deficit.
A 2 percent personal services cut is expected, which will potentially decrease 120 personnel from the system.
Ritter will also continue the 2.5 percent increase of state employees portion paid to the Public Employeeâ€™s Retirement Association to save $19.6 million for the state.
Brodhead said there are no other predicted cuts to corrections, but the state legislature could cut more if needed.
Crime Beat Reporter Rachel Childs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.