http://www.denverpost.com/ci_2245799...e-more-prisonsColorado's prison population is falling so quickly that state officials are once again considering closing prisons — a tough discussion given that prisons are often big employers in the counties where they are located.
"It looks like the whole system should be shrinking," said state Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, at a recent legislative hearing where Joint Budget Committee members discussed the decline in inmates and a consultant's ongoing study of which prisons should be closed or repurposed.
Part of it is because of marijuana legalization, but it is also because of a smarter approach to dealing with crime.
The state's felony crime rate dropped by a third from 2002 to 2011, Clements said. Possible reasons for that include reductions in punishment for marijuana-related crimes, successes of youth and gang-intervention programs, and an aging population that has resulted in fewer young people getting in trouble.
In addition, Clements, who became the state's corrections chief under Hickenlooper, brought a very different attitude from his predecessors, Wilson said. Parole and probation officers are giving second chances for minor infringements, like a single failed drug test or failure to show up for an appointment. Those offenders are not being sent back to prison.