prisons

Support for our series Private Prisons: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

Around when I was setting up a trip to Australia to report on a private prison there, things were not looking good for the industry in my home state of Colorado. Politicians were talking about phasing them out entirely. And the GEO Group, a private prison company, announced it would close its one Colorado prison, amid concerns about staff shortages and lack of services for inmates. The state’s head of corrections was talking about the need to move away from prisons that are “stark and idle places without purpose [or] hope.”

But over on the other side of the world, there was Ravenhall, a prison run by the Australian subsidiary of that very same company, GEO. And everything about it flew in the face of the narrative I was hearing. 

Support for our series Private Prisons: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

When architect Kavan Applegate was designing Ravenhall, he made sure to include things like native plants, a playground, meeting rooms with nooks to display local artifacts — even an outdoor fire pit where people could gather on special occasions. The goal, he says, was to help people “feel positive” and “embrace the opportunity for change.” 

But Ravenhall is not a yoga retreat. It’s a prison — Australia’s largest, in fact. And it’s run by the GEO Group, a private prison company based in the U.S.

Support for our series Private Prison: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a nonprofit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

It was the early 2000s, and the largest prison in Idaho was run by the private company Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA. The state had also started sending prisoners to a private facility in Texas run by GEO Group.


Support for our series Private Prison: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

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Support for our series Private Prisons: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

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As states in the Mountain West and beyond debate the merits of private prisons, Colorado is considering a bill that would look at ways to phase them out. 

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In his latest budget proposal, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis requested $7.2 million to begin transitioning the state away from private prisons. A big part of that plan was to close the Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center in Colorado Springs. It’s a medium security facility run by the GEO group, one of the largest prison companies in the country. 

There’s wide variability in state policies about what care to give to women who are pregnant and behind bars. That’s according to a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative, a research and advocacy organization focused on mass incarceration.

“Women's populations in prisons have been growing faster than men's for quite awhile now,” said Wanda Bertram, a spokesperson with the Prison Policy Initiative. “So it's a good time to start looking at how women's experiences differ from men's while they're inside.”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the state of Idaho must provide sex reassignment surgery to inmate Adree Edmo.


Any day now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule on the case of Adree Edmo, a transgender women currently in prison in Idaho. She sued the state for sex reassignment surgery and won. The state appealed and now the 9th Circuit’s decision on her case could have implications not only for her but for transgender inmates across the West and potentially the nation.  

Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

A recently published article in The Nation magazine alleges potential human rights violations have taken place at the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, also known as Supermax or ADX. The 18-month investigation by Brooklyn-based investigative journalist Aviva Stahl found inmates held in a certain unit there had been force-fed and barred from sharing their stories with the outside world.

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A bill is making its way through the statehouse that would allow judges to reexamine the cases of juveniles sentenced to life without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that it is unconstitutional for minors to have no possibility of parole except in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Thursday Newscast, 10/15/15, 5:32 PM

Oct 15, 2015

Newscast for Thursday, October 15, 2015, 5:32 PM:
 

Whole Foods says it will stop selling products made by a Colorado prison labor program after a protest against the practice at one of its stores in Texas.  The company says the products should be out of its stores by April 2016, if not sooner. Whole Foods says it has sold tilapia and goat cheese produced through the Colorado Correctional Industries program in Canon City since at least 2011.

Prison reform advocates have likened the program to indentured servitude, citing low wages. 

Thursday Newscast, 8/20/15, 5:32 PM

Aug 20, 2015

Newscast for Thursday, August 20, 2015, 5:32 PM:

  • According to a new state study, Colorado has a significant shortage of hospital beds for people suffering from mental illness and has increased needs for people behind bars.
     
  • A 3.9 magnitude earthquake shook Las Animas County last night, with an epicenter about 24 miles west of Trinidad.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Past the razor-wire fences, beyond huge metal gates, behind thick walls, you’ll find one of the most unique dairies in the country. The Four Mile Correctional Center in Cañon City, Colo., is home to what could very well be the country’s largest herd of domesticated water buffalo – buffalo milked for their rich, frothy milk.

At the Four Mile dairy, inmates run the milking parlor, not a farmer in overalls. And it’s not black and white cows dotting the landscape, instead it’s water buffalo with big, curved horns.