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Under Lock & Key

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[Grievance Process] [Censorship] [Abuse] [Private Prisons] [Bent County Correctional Facility] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 79]
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CoreCivic Abuse Coverups

We have a lot of issues at this facility, especially with mail delivery delays (policy states the facility has 48 hours from arrival to deliver mail and 72 hours for packages; both can take over a week) and with unnecessary censorship. The Colorado Department of Corrections’ administrative regulations are clearly laid out regarding mail, but this facility often misinterprets or outright ignores those policies.

BCCF is a private-owned (CoreCivic) prison, and despite having a Private Prison Monitoring Unit (PPMU) assigned to monitor the facilities compliance, they more regularly choose to cover for the administration, for whatever reason, instead of holding them accountable in any way. In fact, the former head of PPMU at this facility recently “retired” from DOC and was hired by CoreCivic to a lucrative, high-ranking position (Chief of Unit Management) at this very facility. No potential for conflict of interest there, right?

The grievance procedure is a complete joke around here. Each step of a grievance can take up to 2 months to receive a response, although denying that any issues exist is hardly any sort of helpful response. By the time a DOC employee becomes involved, several months have passed and either they are lied to by facility staff, or they lie to the prisoner. Either way, nothing is done about any real problems.

In my 8+ years at this prison, I have experienced a variety of changes, including now having the third warden in that time frame. In the past year – about the time the current Chief of Security and Warden, and shortly thereafter, the PPMU/Chief of Unit Mgmt., arrived – the level of violence here has skyrocketed. During most of my time here this place had remained largely peaceful, if mismanaged to some degree, however, now that new “security protocols” have been implemented (such as creating two “compounds” from the one, making one dangerously understaffed compound the “High-security” compound), drugs have flooded this facility, despite all incoming mail being photocopied. We can’t even get photos from family anymore. The rest of Colorado DOC facilities are going through “normalization.” This private prison is only normalizing drugs, anger, and violence. With no programs and very limited rec, things will only get worse here.

I constantly encourage everyone around me who will listen to file grievances and write letters to public officials. Even if they do not solve issues in and of themselves, they create and build a record of the abuses at a particular prison, or in a state’s system. “Keep your copies!” Tell family and friends about all of the problems, change public opinion of “us” by being responsible, educated citizens who expect accountability from our government just like everyone else. When something is broken, government just pours more of its stolen money into the problem, never fixing anything (but getting more powerful in the process). We need to expose to the public what a waste the prison system is – in financial and human capital – and discourage anyone from supporting the expansion of such a broken system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade’s strategy. We should not have false illusions about reforming the system through grievances or exposure, but we also must come together and practice diligence and build our skills in fighting abuses. By doing so we can build towards real solutions.

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