With more than 900 beds, the Centennial Correctional Facility is ready to welcome inmates with the most severe behavioral problems.
It's taken years to get the prison up and running, after lawsuits plagued its early development. Construction was finally able to begin in 2007, and cost $169 million dollars.
Several steps were taken to save money on construction of the massive prison, including the development of special inmate cells. Smaller and lighter weight than traditional cells, they could fit more on a floor than before and with less stringent foundation requirements.
Inside each cell, inmates have access to a monitor where they can view their own case files, browse the law library, and even watch television if their behavior is adequate.
The maximum security prison is designed for offenders with the worst behavioral problems. "Individuals who come into this setting do what we call in the system, earn their way into this facility. It's by their behavior as opposed to what their crime was," explains Aristedes Zavaras, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
None of the inmates will have access to the others, and Zavaras says this will make other prisons all over the state safer for inmates and staff.
Despite being direly needed, according to Zavaras, the prison will only be using a third of its capacity. It will house 316 inmates in one of its sections. The room for growth of offender population is something Zavaras says is sadly inevitable.
Fifteen inmates per day will begin arriving at Centennial on September 1. This will continue until they have all 316 beds full.