The nation’s largest private prison operator has agreed to state-mandated reforms at its four Colorado prisons 14 months after a riot tore through its facility in Olney Springs, Co., reports the Rocky Mountain News. Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America signed new contracts with the Colorado Department of Corrections in September that address problems uncovered after a riot by 300 inmates.
The privately run facilities house about 3,300 of the state’s more than 21,000 inmates. The new contract requires increased staffing levels at the facilities, better staff training and emergency preparedness, increased medical and mental health services for inmates, improved food standards, and state takeover of inmate financial accounts. While some of those issues were not direct causes of the 2004 riot, all have been cited as trouble spots that may have fed the discontent that erupted into violence and destruction. Inmates ransacked two cellhouses and prison offices, destroyed furniture, smashed doors and windows, and set dozens of fires, one of which burned down the prison greenhouse. The Department of Corrections found that the prison had only 33 uniformed officers supervising 1,122 inmates and that some officers had been on the job two days or less.