Outsourced Inmates Coming Back To Colorado

Nearly 500 state inmates who have been serving time in Oklahoma due to prison capacity problems in Colorado will be returning to in-state facilities in the next four weeks, according to an official with the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Almost a year and a half has passed since the inmates were first transferred to the privately run North Fork Correctional Facility in Oklahoma.
“We didn’t have the bed space in Colorado at the time we transferred the inmates out of state, and now we have expanded bed space here in Colorado,” said department spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti, who noted that 120 inmates are being transferred today.

All remaining inmates are expected to be transferred from Oklahoma in the next four weeks.

“When returned, some will go to state facilities and some will go to private facilities. They’ll all be back in Colorado,” Sanguinetti said.

In October, state lawmakers and department officials toured the Oklahoma facility amid inmate claims of slow mail, unreliable phone service and problems experienced by visiting family members.

“It’s a big hardship on the families to get over to Oklahoma to visit their loved ones,” said Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, after the tour. “I would say the general population probably doesn’t have much empathy for such a situation simply because the idea of ‘They committed a crime, they got to do their time.'”

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 erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.