In a surprise turn of events during a Denver City Council vote August 5th, seven members of the city council voted not to renew contracts with two private prison companies. Before the vote took place, only Councilwoman Candi Cdebaca was expected to oppose the renewal, but six other councilors voted against renewal totaling seven votes. The two companies who have lost their contracts, CoreCivic and GEO Group, operate six different halfway houses in Denver. The council voted against renewal due to a poor national reputation. The question remains about what will happen with the facilities operated by these companies since their contracts have already expired. CoreCivic and GEO Group mainly operate prisons utilized by ICE. Many of the councilors held the position that supporting companies who operate ICE facilities promotes the wrong ideals and moral values. A representative from the Colorado ACLU stated that it is time to stop supporting for-profit prison companies.

This effort to continue prison reform in Colorado is a continuation of recent changes made to the rights of parolees and others who have been arrested. In the facilities operated by these companies reside 500 detainees who will either be moved to another prison or be placed on parole immediately. This decision will come from the Colorado Department of Corrections and could affect the lives of many ICE-detained immigrants and their families. On top of these 500 people, another 200 people are scheduled to be released with no halfway house for them to go to. The decision to vote against renewal is said to have been a moral one by the council, and for those who did vote for renewal they did not strongly sympathize with the prison giants. In the coming weeks the Department of Corrections, mayor’s office, and the parole board have a tough decision to make regarding the fate of these 500 people currently in these halfway houses.

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Colorado LawDenver City Council Sends Private Prison Companies Packing