Inmates at Colorado’s Park County Jail soon will wear bracelets bearing bar codes similar to what you might find in Wal-Mart, says the Denver Post. A prisoner becomes a commodity the moment he walks into this “for-profit” county jail. The price tag: $45 a day. “You always hear that government should be run like a business,” Park County Commissioner Leni Walker said. “Well, that’s what we’re trying to do.” Park County officials believe that by charging Denver, Boulder, and Larimer counties to hold their prisoners, Park County can pay for housing its own felons and make a $1.5 million annual profit. Although many Colorado jails take outside prisoners to offset costs, Park County is the only public jail in the state touting itself as a for-profit enterprise. “I don’t think there is another jail in the country that is offsetting costs like we do,” said Captain Monte Gore of the Park County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials from other counties are skeptical. “I don’t think you can make money off of a jail,” said Lt. Stanley Bishop, who administers the Teller County Detention Facility in Divide. The county hired a marketing person to lure inmates from other counties. The jail still has 20 empty beds. The experience of other counties hasn’t deterred Park County. It has already brought hundreds of inmates into the rural mountain community, which is hurting for jobs. In the four years since Park County took over administration of its jail from a private company, it has virtually erased a $1 million expenditure from its $20 million budget. Two thirds of the 119 inmates are state or federal prisoners, or inmates from 11 other counties. When the expansion is completed in 2005, the jail will hold up to 260 inmates.