Colorado officials will close a $184-million high-security prison open just 18 months and two-thirds empty, reports the Los Angeles Times. The 316-bed prison at Canon City is the fourth Colorado correctional facility ordered closed in the last three years because of a dwindling prison population. At its peak in 2009, the inmate population was 23,220. As of February, it had dropped to 21,562. A decrease of 900 more is expected by June 2013.
Adam Gelb of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Center on the States said about half the states wre making efforts to reduce prison populations. Other states and the federal system still show increases. Colorado corrections director Tom Clements said the state was part of a seismic shift in attitudes about the wisdom of locking up nonviolent offenders for long periods. If alternatives are well implemented and include good supervision, repeat offenses can be cut by 30 percent and the cost is about one-tenth of the $30,000-a-year average for housing a prisoner, Gelb said.