Department of Corrections
COMMITTEE ON CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
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03:16 PM -- Department of Corrections
Mr. Aristedes Zavaras, Executive Director, and Mr. Karl Spiecker, Director of Finance and Administration, both of the Department of Corrections, presented two FY 2010-11 requests and the department's five-year projection of need. Director Zavaras explained that the department's main goal is to manage risk, and that in order to succeed in managing risk the department strives to put the right offender in the right bed, and provide him with the right resources. Director Zavaras continued his presentation by discussing the rate of decline in the prison population during the first few months of FY 2009-10. He next addressed the newly implemented early release program and said that the decrease in the corrections population is not a result of this new program. He explained that the early release program does partially address the department's need to find savings in its budget, but more importantly the program is evidence-based and possible because offenders have been provided with the right resources, including major support at the time of their release.
Director Zavaras continued to discuss the early release program. He said that the department typically releases about 900 prisoners a month and that the additional parolees released pursuant to the early release program are a small fraction compared to the total number of parolees. Director Zavaras next addressed the growing incidence of violence in state prisons. He said that in the last nine years, the gang population in the state's prisons has increased about 88 percent, and that as of November 30, 2009, prison personnel have identified about 9,500 gang members and gang affiliates among the prison population. Director Zavaras continued to provide the committee with information regarding the increased incidence of violence in the state's prisons and responded to a question regarding available beds for close-custody offenders.
Discussion ensued about how to share the content of Director Zavaras' presentation with a wider audience. Director Zavaras told the committee that public safety will remain the department's top priority and reiterated that the early release program was a department plan before the advent of an economic recession. Discussion turned to the savings realized because state personnel served as general contractor for the Colorado State Penitentiary II High-Custody Expansion project.
Mr. Spiecker presented two FY 2010-11 requests including: 1) Colorado State Penitentiary II, High-Custody Expansion (COP Project); and 2) Correctional Industries -- Miscellaneous Small Projects. Mr. Spiecker also gave a brief overview of the department's five-year projection of need and explained that this plan may change in future years because of the slowing growth rate of the prison population. Senator Bacon reminded the committee that federal dollars will be spent to refurbish the State Capitol Cafe and that Colorado Correctional Industries will be responsible for reupholstering and/or replacing the furniture. Mr. Spiecker responded to several questions regarding Corrections Expansion Reserve Fund (CERF) revenue earned for capital projects pursuant to House Bill 07-1040, which eliminated refunds for cash bonds paid by defendants that are subsequently deported.
Discussion continued about CERF revenue earned pursuant to House Bill 07-1040.