Colorado has moved a step closer to solving its desperate need for more prison space, deciding that two bids for new private prisons are “potentially acceptable,” the Rocky Mountain News reports. The two companies are Corrections Corp. of America and The Geo Group, formerly Wackenhut. Colorado is trying to buy more cell space to house 1,000 more prisoners each year. Tough sentencing laws are sending more people to prison for longer periods. The state has fallen behind on construction and it now expects to run out of cell space by this fall.
For now, the Department of Corrections will double-bunk prisoners, crowding them in a way that raises the risk of rioting. The state sought bids from private prison companies to house 2,250 additional male inmates and 750 more women. For the more urgently needed men’s prison, Colorado wants the first 750 beds open by February 2008, just 21 months from now. The next 750 must be ready six months later and the final group a year after that. The contract should have been awarded in April. Now, the state has asked CCA and Geo, two of the five bidders, to provide more details by June, squeezing the time frame further.