Fremont County: Home to 7,955 inmates and counting

Colorado is home to more than 25 state prisons – more than a third of them in rural Fremont County in the south-central part of the state.

With 12 state and federal lockups in the sparsely populated county, inmates who are classified from minimum security to maximum security are incarcerated in the state’s greatest concentration of prisons.

Each Fremont County institution varies security and purpose. For example, one state-run prison houses only women inmates and a pre-release center. On the federal level, Florence is also home to the only super max facility in the country. Its residents include Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, shoe bomber Richard Reid and al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

According to Fremont County officials, half of the jobs in the area deal with the corrections industry. All of the state prisons in the county are in Cañon City, the most populous city.

A new 900-bed state prison — the Colorado State Penitentiary II — is also expected to be completed by 2010, bringing the number of prisons in Fremont County to a total of 13.

Here’s a complete run-down of Fremont County’s prisons:

State prisons

East Cañon Correctional Complex in Cañon City:

The four-unit complex includes:

        • Arrowhead Correctional Center: A minimum-restrictive security facility for inmates.

Beds: 494

        • Four Mile Correctional Center: A minimum-restrictive security facility.

Beds: 499

        • Skyline Correctional Center: A working camp that uses inmate labor for correctional industries.

Beds: 249

        • Pre-Release Center: A facility specializing in transitioning inmates back into society. Includes life skills training.

Beds: Unknown

Centennial Correctional Facility: A high-security lockup for male inmates.

Beds: 336

Colorado State Penitentiary: A maximum-security prison for male inmates who are classified as being the most violent and disruptive.

Beds: 756

Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility: A medium-security facility and the department’s oldest prison. Also holds inmates in transition and houses an infirmary that serves all state lockups in Cañon City.

Beds: 936

Colorado Women’s Correctional Facility: A high-security prison for female inmates with violent crime convictions and sentences lasting more than a year.

Beds: 224

Fremont Correctional Facility: A minimum- to maximum-security prison for male inmates.

Beds: 1661

Under construction:

Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City: A maximum security facility that is in construction and estimated to be completed by 2010.

Expected bed space: 948


Federal Prisons

The Florence Federal Correctional Complex

Beds: 2,800+


The three-unit complex includes:

        • Florence Federal Correctional Institution: A medium-security prison for inmates.

        • Florence United States Penitentiary: A high security lockup. Recently the site of a yard riot that left 2 inmates dead and others injured.

        • Florence Supermax: A maximum security prison for those deemed by the federal government to be the most dangerous inmates in the nation, including those convicted of terrorism and gang violence.


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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at

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