Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | prison | population | trends | Colorado

Prison Population Trends in Colorado Since 1994

By    |   Thursday, 11 Feb 2016 02:39 PM

The 1990s were trying in Colorado, with prison populations growing faster than the national average. The Denver Post attributed this growth in the '90s to the "Tough on Crime" mantra in the '80s. In fact, the residual effects of this decade were felt until 2010, when Colorado saw its prison population numbers start to decline.

“Among 26 states where prison population declined in 2010 and 2011, Colorado's 3.7 percent decrease was the sixth-highest. Colorado now has the 21st-highest incarceration rate in America, at 430 inmates per 100,000 citizens, higher than California, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice,” The Denver Post reported.

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On the heels of this good news in 2010, the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice compiled a study titled, “Correctional Population Forecasts.” The study showed the potential prison population continuing to drop through 2018, optimistically to rates lower than 2005. This figure would put the prison population in Colorado under 19,000, something the state would like to see come to fruition.

The study shows that in 2010, the prison population declined 1.4 percent, while 2011 showed a decline of 1.09 percent, leaving prisons with 22,610 inmates. If the study proves accurate, this would leave Colorado’s prisons with 19,041 inmates in 2018.

This study and that optimism help explain why Colorado felt comfortable enough to close three state prisons before 2013 after the state had 7,500 fewer inmates than anticipated.

“We think that is a really, really big deal,” Roxanne White, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s chief of staff explained to the Denver Post in 2013.

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Of course, having fewer inmates and fewer prisons means the state should be able to save money in the corrections part of their budget. The article explained: “The savings to Colorado taxpayers will vary significantly with the state's choices on what to cut. Not sending an inmate to a private prison saves the state about $20,000 a year. Closing the Fort Lyon prison in Las Animas saved nearly $27,000 per inmate. Shutting down one wing at the Trinidad prison has saved $5,800 per prisoner.”

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The 1990s were trying in Colorado, with prison populations growing faster than the national average. The residual effects of this decade were felt until 2010.
prison, population, trends, Colorado
Thursday, 11 Feb 2016 02:39 PM
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