July 02, 2010
Local jobs lost as Brush prison closes
Jesse Chaney, Brush News-Tribune staff writer
High Plains Correctional Facility will close down after the state takes the remaining inmates away from the Brush prison today.
Most of the employees at High Plains Correctional Facility will lose their jobs after the state removes the last remaining inmates from the Brush women’s prison today.
“We have already notified our staffs that most of them unfortunately have to be laid off for now,” said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Houston, Texas-based Cornell Companies, Inc., which owns the Brush prison.
The local facility normally employs 83 people, Seigel said, but management has left about half of the positions vacant in anticipation of the closure. “In the last few months we haven’t filled positions, knowing this was going to happen,” he said.
Three of the roughly 40 current employees will remain on staff to maintain the facility and prepare for any potential new business, but the rest of the workers will lose their jobs, Seigel said.
Cornell has offered to transfer some of the employees to company facilities in other areas, he said. At least 10 of the employees have accepted jobs at a Cornell prison in Hudson, but workers are reluctant to take jobs any farther away.
“We’re still working on trying to find positions as much as possible for people,” he said.
The closure of the facility will also result in a loss of revenue for the city of Brush, said city Finance Officer Joanne Gosselink.
The city will lose roughly $22,000 in annual income it received for processing the prison’s payments from the state, she said. In addition, the city will no longer receive revenue from sales tax on purchases made by the inmates, she said.
“We’re hoping that something comes back in there relatively soon,” she said.
The inmates housed at High Plains Correctional Facility were placed at the private prison through a contract with the Colorado Department of Corrections.
State officials are moving inmates from the Brush facility to various state prisons due to a decline in the number of female prisoners throughout Colorado, Seigel said.
The Brush prison can house up to 272 female prisoners, but Seigel said the facility’s inmate population has been declining.
Cornell will maintain ownership of the Brush facility, and company officials are currently exploring potential ways to put it back to use, he said.
The facility might be converted to a male prison or house inmates from other states if the Colorado Department of Corrections will not use it for female inmates in the future, Seigel said. “It’s always a long-term process,” he said. “It doesn’t happen quickly usually.”
If Cornell officials are able to secure a new operating contract, they might offer to again employ the Brush prison workers who lost their jobs, Seigel said.
The Brush facility opened in 2003 and became High Plains Correctional Facility when Cornell took ownership in 2007, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Located on 22.5 acres of land in northeast Brush, the medium-security prison has more than 5,000 square feet of vocational space, more than 300,000 square feet of outdoor recreational space, a computer lab, 15 classrooms, an indoor gymnasium, a football field, a quarter-mile asphalt track, and a regulation-sized soccer field, baseball field and volleyball court.