The Colorado Department of Corrections is the principal department of the Colorado state government that operates the state prisons. It has its headquarters in the Springs Office Park in unincorporated El Paso County, Colorado, near Colorado Springs The Colorado Department of Corrections runs 20 state-run prisons and also has been affiliated with 7 for-profit prisons in Colorado, of which the state currently contracts with 3 for-profit prisons.
All prisoners entering the Colorado DOC system first go to the Denver Reception & Diagnostic Center (DRDC) before going to their assigned facilities; assignments are primarily determined by security level, and each facility can accommodate inmates of different security levels.
Currently, the state of Colorado has no designated death row. All prisoners with death sentences are given classifications of "Close", the highest custody designation possible. As of 2017, all prisoners with death sentences are located at the Sterling Correctional Facility. The execution chamber is located at the Colorado State Penitentiary. By state statute, executions take place there.
From the 1890s to the 1990s, the Colorado death row was located at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. The execution chamber was also located in this prison. In the 1990s the Colorado State Penitentiary opened. Previously state statute dictated that prisoners with death sentences were to be held at the administrative segregation facility at the Colorado State Penitentiary. In 2011 the State of Colorado moved its death row prisoners in order to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Nathan Dunlap, a death row prisoner. Dunlap had complained about the state's lack of outdoor exercise facilities at Colorado State Penitentiary. The Crowley County facility experienced two major riots involving Colorado and Washington state prisoners, the first in 1999 when operated by Correctional Services Corporation and the second on July 20, 2004, when owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, and involving Wyoming inmates as well.
Since the establishment of the Colorado Department of Corrections, 14 officers have died while on duty.
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