PRISON & DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
The Colorado Department of Corrections and Prison
In Colorado, while county jails in Arapahoe County, Douglas County and Denver County are operated by the county sheriff’s department, the state prison system is run by the Colorado Department of Corrections, often called DOC. The specific branch within DOC which deals with prison operations is called the Division of Prison Operations. This division of the Department of Corrections operates 19 state run prison facilities and contracts with 5 privately owned facilities.
Entry Classification of Inmates
When a person is sentenced to the Department of Corrections by a District Court Judge, they are generally taken to the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center “DRDC” for classification. Classification is done to ensure that the inmate has any necessary accommodation at their facility assignment for special needs. At the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center, inmates are evaluated for medical, dental, mental health, personal needs, academic, vocational, initial classification, and a custody level recommendation.
Next, the inmate will be taken to one of the state’s 24 facilities for long-term commitment. Until the inmate is granted parole release, or transferred to another facility based on changing needs and space availability, they will be held in this facility. Inmates generally have educational, recreational and therapeutic programs available in these facilities. Most of the inmates we’ve worked with prefer serving their sentence at a DOC facility rather than a county jail due to the free time, programs and community time offered. An inmate’s time is not so structured, and they are not locked down in their cells, as much at DOC facilities. Inmates can be located via DOC’s Inmate Locator.
Inmate Visitation in DOC
The Colorado Department of Corrections and Prison facilities generally permit in-person visits with relatives and friends, rather than the video phone and TV visits common to county jails in Jefferson County, Broomfield and Adams County. To visit an inmate in the prison system, the visitor must first complete a Visitor Application, and send the application to the facility to be visited. Visits are scheduled and visitors can’t just show up. They need to first be on an inmate’s visitor list and then schedule a visit with the facility. Those applying for a visit will be screened for any warrants and their criminal history. Sometimes, we have seen visits withheld from persons with felony convictions. Visit regulations, procedures and forms can be found HERE.
Inmates can receive personal mail and subscriptions from publishers to many publications which are not of a sexual nature or presenting security concerns. Incoming and outgoing mail will be inspected by DOC, and censored as necessary. It is helpful for an inmate to have money on their books to buy mail supplies.
Parole hearings will be provided persons based on their parole eligibility date, set by DOC. These hearings are generally public and input from victims is valued. The government will frequently advocate against release at these hearings, so it is useful to have a criminal defense attorney on the side of the inmate. You can see parole eligibility dates by looking at the inmate’s page on the DOC Inmate Locator.
Inmates sometimes obtain new charges based on conduct while in the Department of Corrections. The District Attorney or the Attorney General will prosecute these cases just like criminal offenses outside DOC. In other cases, inmates need attorney assistance at their Parole Hearing. The inmate must be smart, exercise their right to remain silent, and contact O’Malley and Sawyer, LLC at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect their future.