The second-biggest employer in the Colorado town of Walsenburg, the Huerfano County Correctional Center, is set to lay off 188 employees and close its doors April 2, reports the Denver Post. “The economy of this town is zilch. The prison closing down is going to hurt,” said Joe Kancilia, who owns a gun and furniture shop. Walsenburg is one of many small Colorado towns where privately run prisons drive the economy. Many states, including Colorado, are cutting their contracts with private jailers.
Corrections Corporation of America announced it would close the Walsenburg prison after Arizona said it was withdrawing all of its 700 inmates from the facility. Yesterday, the last inmate was to climb aboard a bus headed for a newly constructed state-owned prison in Arizona. The Huerfano prison will remain closed until CCA enters a contract with Colorado – or with another state overflowing with prisoners and enough money to ship them to Walsenburg. Colorado’s prison population is declining for the first time in decades and the state will fill its own prisons first. CCA is seeking a new contract but doesn’t have any prospects yet, spokesman Steve Owen said.