Nolin Renfrow, a former Department Of Corrections (DOC) official and subject of a state audit is under scrutiny for helping a private corrections business obtain a 14 million-per-year contract for a proposed prison in Ault, Colorado.
It has also been discovered, that while serving as a director of prisons, Renfrow took part in breaking up a prisoner’s work strike in 2003.According to an article written by Ann Imse for the Rocky Mountain News, a recent state audit discovered that a prisons offical may have violated the law:
Renfrow helped Geo win a $14 million-per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison it proposed building in Ault. Renfrow helped Geo write its bid and spoke with Ault officials on Geo’s behalf, said officials and Renfrow last spring.
The audit said the official may have violated two state laws. One prohibits state employees from providing paid assistance to anyone to win state contracts or economic benefits.
The other prohibits activities that constitute a conflict of interest with their duties as state employees.
The DOC is starting an investigation according to the article, but there are also troubles with what Renfrow has previously said:
He also said then that the state attorney general’s office had ruled that his work on the deal was not a conflict of interest.
However, the audit found no evidence that he requested or received the required state approval for his outside work.
In June, Rep. Buffie McFadyen (D-Pueblo) raised questions over Renfrow’s role in the bid process, by sending a letter to the Legislative Audit Committee:
But Renfrow denied having any role in the bid request, saying he ran operations for existing prisons. He said the bid was handled by DOC’s purchasing section.
“I saw the (bid document) the same day everyone else did. I had to sign in and buy a copy of it.”
Renfrow also said his new work – as a prison consultant – was cleared by the attorney general’s office. “They said it’s not a conflict of interest.”
Now, news archives also show that Renfrow participated in breaking up a prisoner’s work strike in 2003 when daily pay for their jobs was cut from $2 a day to 60 cents, due to budget cuts.
From a Denver Post article in July of 2003 :
The strike began July 1, the first day of new pay rates for prison workers. The inmates objected to their pay – which they use to buy soap and other hygiene items – dropping from between 40 cents and $2 daily to 60 cents a day.
“A lot of inmates realized there probably isn’t a lot of public sympathy for pay cuts if the staff was getting laid off too,” Renfrow said.
Informants told prison officials that the biggest pocket of strike support was at Sterling, Renfrow said.
Starting at 3 a.m. July 1, three shifts of prison cooks at Sterling refused to go to work for the lower rates. Officials put about 1,100 maximum- and medium-security prisoners in lockdown.
Prisoners got cold meals, were kept in their cells and at first didn’t get to shower.
Officials identified 16 strike leaders and moved them to Colorado State Prison, a maximum-security prison in Ca