Colorado’s not home to the federal private prisons the DOJ plans to close

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The GEO private detention facility in Aurora that houses non-citizen detainees for immigration and asylum cases. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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The GEO private detention facility in Aurora that houses non-citizen detainees for immigration and asylum cases. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado isn’t home to any of the 13 private prisons the U.S. Department of Justice announced plans to phase out Thursday.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said the Federal Bureau of Prisons should either not renew or substantially reduce its contract with companies running private prisons in California, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Yates told The Washington Post all of the contracts would come up for renewal over the next five years. Company-run prisons are not as safe or efficient as facilities managed by the government, she wrote in a memo.

Mother Jones drew attention to the problems in private prisons earlier this year with a widely read exposé by a reporter who went undercover as a prison guard.

 

Following Thursday’s news, two of the nation’s major private prison operators The GEO Group Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America took a huge hit on the stock market.

GEO operates the Aurora Detention Facility in Aurora. The facility holds immigrants and likely won’t be impacted by the deputy attorney general’s orders since it’s overseen by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. The center declined to comment on the situation.

Colorado’s three private prisons also won’t be affected because they are monitored by the Colorado Department of Corrections and not the federal government, said department spokeswoman Laurie Kilpatrick.

The governor’s office would have to approve the shutdown of any private prison in Colorado, Kilpatrick said.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper OKed the private prison in Kit Carson to be closed. Other prisons are still operating in Colorado Springs, Las Animas and Olney Springs.

Hickenlooper’s office didn’t immediately comment on the DOJ’s announcement.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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