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Colorado State Prisons
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Difference Between Colorado Prison and Federal Prison

What is the Difference Between Colorado Prison and Federal Prison?

Colorado prisons refer to all state prisons within the state and are different from federal prisons. Federal prisons operate under the Federal Bureau of Prisons jurisdiction, while Colorado state prisons operate under the Colorado Department of Corrections' authority. The federal government funds the Federal Bureau of Prisons while Colorado state prisons are supported by tax revenues.

Another significant contrast between federal prisons and Colorado state prisons is the type of crimes an inmate must have committed before incarceration in any of the two prison types. An individual guilty of a federal crime is imprisoned in federal prison. Variably, a person guilty of a state crime serves jail time in a Colorado state prison. Federal crimes include kidnapping, carjacking, identity theft, credit card fraud, tax evasion, electoral fraud, and espionage. It also consists of crimes committed on federal properties or involving federal officers. Immigration and custom violations are federal crimes. Any crime committed against the Colorado State Statutes is a state crime, including rape, burglary, murder, arson, and robbery. Time spent in federal prisons is usually longer than that spent in state prisons. Also, while it is commonplace for inmates in state prisons to have parole after serving some parts of the sentences, inmates in federal prison hardly have this opportunity and must serve out full jail time.

The Colorado Prison System

The Colorado prison system is an organization of all state-owned prisons and some privately owned prisons under the Colorado Department of Corrections' jurisdiction. An essential office in the Colorado prison system is the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center. This office is responsible for deciding which of the numerous state prisons is fit for a convict.

Prisons are categorized based on the security level, and there are three main categories; minimum, medium, and maximum security prisons. Minimum security prisons are usually for inmates convicted of non-violent crimes, primarily white-collar crimes, and are not considered to be physically dangerous to anyone. Medium and maximum security prisons house more serious offenders who are physically violent and have more security personnel and more restrictions enforced. Inmates in minimum and medium security prisons have more skill acquisition and job opportunities in the facilities, unlike those at maximum-security prisons.

Below are the 20 state-run prisons in the state of Colorado:

  • Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (Ordway)
  • Arrowhead Correctional Center (Cañon City)
  • Buena Vista Correctional Facility (Buena Vista)
  • Centennial Correctional Facility (Cañon City) (Maximum Security)
  • Colorado Correctional Center (Camp George West)
  • Colorado State Penitentiary (Cañon City) (Maximum Security)
  • Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility (Cañon City) (Medium Security)
  • Delta Correctional Center (Delta)
  • Denver Reception & Diagnostic Center (Denver)
  • Denver Women's Correctional Facility (Denver)
  • Four Mile Correctional Center (Cañon City)
  • Fremont Correctional Facility (Cañon City)
  • LA Vista Correctional Facility (Pueblo)
  • Limon Correctional Facility (Limon)
  • Rifle Correctional Center (Rifle)
  • San Carlos Correctional Facility (Pueblo)
  • Skyline Correctional Center (249 inmate capacity) (Cañon City)
  • Sterling Correctional Facility (2545 inmate capacity) (Sterling)
  • Trinidad Correctional Facility (500 inmate capacity) (Trinidad)
  • Youthful Offender System (Pueblo)

The Colorado Department of Correction provides addresses and contact information for all of these facilities electronically. Members of the public can get information on inmates in the state prison using the find an offender feature.

About 20,000 Colorado inmates are in Colorado state prisons, with a much lesser percentage held in federal prisons located in the state. According to the National Institute of Corrections, the Colorado prison system ran on a budget of $922 million in 2018.

It is possible to donate food and money to an inmate in the Colorado state prisons. However, for the safety of the inmates, parties cannot donate food items directly. Parties can send money and food through the inmate care package program for the state of Colorado. The same inmate care package program helps to deposit money into an inmate's account.

How to Lookup an Inmate in Colorado

Interested persons may locate an inmate in either a federal prison or a Colorado state prison via the online locator. Requestors will be required to put in details like the inmate's first and last name. Also, an individual who intends to find an inmate in federal prison can use the Federal Bureau of Prisons' online locator. The Colorado Open Records Act regulates the amount and type of information found in an inmate's records, including date of birth, sex, assigned facility, and release date. To obtain a Colorado inmate record, the requesting party may be required to query the prison facility where the inmate is held.

Colorado County Jails

County jails in Colorado are local holding facilities used to detain offenders for a short stay. Until the court passes a verdict for release, offenders are usually held in county jails to await trial, transfer to prison or serve time for probation. In Colorado, 57 of the 64 counties operate a jail facility except for San Juan, Ouray, Delores, Mineral, Hinsdale, Phillips, and Kiowa counties, which are in contract to utilize other county jails. The county government or a Sheriff oversees the affairs of the county holding facility. According to the Colorado general assembly's overview of county jails, county jails and the Department of Corrections work hand-in-hand to house inmates to avoid overcrowding. The daily population for counties is approximately 2 to 938 offenders and an overall inmate capacity of 5 to 1,753.

According to the first quarterly collection in 2020, in Colorado, departmental reports and incarceration statistics show that the number of inmates in every county jail peaked at 11,667. The incarceration data for quarters 2, 3, and 4 are 8423 inmates, 7169 inmates, and 9,083 inmates. Parties seeking to look up inmates currently in detention in Colorado must know the county of arrest and proceed to visit the county's Sheriff's department in person. Sometimes, inmates' details are accessible online, and interested individuals must provide the full name and other required information about the offender.

Persons who want to donate to an offender currently serving time in jail can utilize any approved payment companies. Payments can be made to incarcerated individuals via a debit or credit card online or on the phone. Requestors can also visit the company's physical locations to process a donation. However, the rates for payment vary according to the choice of payment mode.

Members of the public can visit inmates by mailing a duly completed visitations form to the same facility and pay heed to the strict schedule and the dress code authorized by the state. For children under the age of 18, the parent or guardian must sign the visitation form on behalf of the minor. Infrequent Visitors must fill a particular form and follow the mailing process. These forms are available online.

How Does the Federal Prison System Work?

Federal prisons are under the jurisdiction of the United States of America, in contrast to state-run prisons and county jails. Under the Department of Justice's administration, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is responsible for caring for and accounting for incarcerated persons who have violated federal laws. There are 64 federal prisons in the United States of America sparsely located in different states around the county. The Federal Bureau of Prisons further branches prisons into several categories such as;

  • Federal correctional institutions
  • The United States penitentiaries
  • Private correctional institutions
  • Administrative facilities
  • Federal prison camps
  • Federal correctional complexes
  • Former federal facilities

With exceptions to military holding facilities and immigration detention centers, The United States penitentiary is a facility with maximum security and high-grade technology as perimeters and fences. The facility contains many inmates and operates the highest staff to inmate ratio in the country. The USPs (United States penitentiary) are located in Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Kansas, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, and Mississippi. Federal Correctional Institutions (FCIs) cater to work and treatment programs to ensure mental and emotional balance before reintroducing the convicts into society. FCIs operate on medium security with no electric perimeters or detection systems.

Nevertheless, the staff to inmate ratio is high with better internal control. Most FCIs in the country are particular to a gender. However, there are a few mixed institutions. All federal prisons in the United States of America can be located either by name, state, or electronic map.