A riot at a company-run prison in southern Colorado has reignited the debate over private lockups, says the Denver Post. More than 3,500 prison beds in Colorado are managed by companies, nearly 20 percent of the state’s prison capacity. “It’s a real question for me,” said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, whose district includes eight prisons. “Are we sacrificing safety for cost, and is the cost really cheaper?
The Crowley County Correctional Facility, near Olney Springs, is owned and run by Corrections Corp. of America, a Nashville, Tenn.-based company that is the largest private-prison company in the country. CCA is the sixth-largest corrections system in the U.S., trailing the federal government and four states. The company manages 66,000 beds in 65 facilities stretching across 20 states and the District of Columbia. Four of those prisons are in Colorado. Company spokeswoman Louise Chickering said or riots can happen in any prison, public or private. In recent months, CCA has been in the news for incidents at two of its prisons. In May, a riot at a facility in Watonga, Okla., left two inmates critically injured after hundreds of prisoners with baseball bats, fire extinguishers, and two-by-fours fought one another and guards. Earlier this month, a female inmate at a Nashville prison died after suffering a skull fracture while in her cell. Four CCA employees are under investigation in her death.