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admin | Category: Check A Phone Number Location | 29.07.2014
The head of Colorado’s prisons was shot and killed last month by a former inmate who the Associated Press reports was erroneously released. If Highway 50 is known as the country’s loneliest highway where it cuts through the Nevada and Utah deserts, it also becomes the windiest in the forty miles between Pueblo and Canon City, Colorado, where miles of dusty brown plains end in snow-capped mountains in every direction. You also know you’re approaching Canon City, a community of about 16,000, when in addition to the signs advertising Big Daddy’s Diner, train rides to the world’s highest suspension bridge, the Royal Gorge and bargain hotel rooms, you also look to your left and miles in the distance see a group of somber gray buildings with what look like black slits from the bottom to the top. The risks and stress of working in the prison system are obvious, especially in light of the recent killing of Colorado DOC Director Tom Clements at his home north of Colorado Springs on March 19 by suspect Evan Spencer Ebel, a former inmate. From the miles of ranchland cut with canyons to the world’s highest suspension bridge in Canon City, which hangs 956 feet high and spans a quarter mile across the Royal Gorge, almost everyone you talk to either works for the prisons or knows someone who does.
Canon City was settled as a mining town in the midst of the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of the 1860s.
The KKK’s part in Canon City history is far from secret, with a large public archive at the town historical society and a recent course on the subject at one of the special senior courses for retirees at the town’s branch of Pueblo Community College. Continue driving on Highway 50 into town and you see the Home Depot on the left as you make your way into the outskirts of Canon City and the Fremont Correctional Facility next door, with the usual parade of neon hotel signs, chain restaurants, the ubiquitous Wal-Mart, Auto Zone, and Safeway as you go around a rotary and head down Main St, which is one part American Graffiti, one part Old West, and one part empty storefronts. With its barbed wire and watchtower visible from Main St., the medium-security prison employs 252 staff and has 816 inmates, with 120 others waiting for transfer to other state facilities. Built in 1871, six years before Colorado became a state, the prison began with three inmates. It’s easy to lose sight of the reality of actual prisoners being on the other side of that wall, though as Stacey Cline says, “We’ve got the best security system right here … There’s an active tower right outside my window.” Getting in my car outside the museum, I could hear voices on the other side of the wall topped with barbed wire, making this the most realistic museum exhibit I had ever visited. Obviously, prisoners aren’t always going to be content to make crafts or tend their own vegetable gardens or farm their own tilapia, or even train dogs (dogs live with inmates who keep them for a period and train them one-on-one), though these are useful state-funded programs.

It’s surprisingly easy to get so buried in the history of Canon City that you don’t see what’s right in front of you, that is, a working prison, and that the inmates (many of them) are here because they committed serious crimes, that this is in some ways a matter of life and death for correctional officers and other staff who go in and out of the prison each day. His daughter, who still lives in Canon City, recalls her father’s ability to shake off whatever had happened that day and just be a dad.
Her husband, who commutes to and from Canon City from Pueblo, uses the time to decompress and has made a commitment to regain his physical health, having lost nearly 70 pounds. Canon City is also trying to revive the downtown and lure developers to fund historic sites and new housing developments.
But though some would argue that the town might be better off without the prisons, it’s hard to imagine Canon City without them.
This is the East Canon City Prison Complex, a quick left turn off of Highway 50 as you’re approaching Canon City and the gateway to what is frequently called “the Alcatraz of the Rockies.
The Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Federal Bureau of Prisons are the largest and highest-paying employers, with the State’s salary for a correctional officer starting at $32,000, according to the 2013-2014 DOC projected budget. Last year an inmate at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility south of Pueblo killed one prison worker and wounded another. Like many small towns in the West transformed by mining and the loss of jobs in the vanishing railroad, farming, steel and ranch industries, Canon City has had to make its peace with change, whether this is opening its doors to tourists and developers or trying to attract new businesses. It’s a close-knit community with over 60 churches, a town park, many festivals throughout the spring and summer, world-class rafting, a winery at the Holy Cross Abbey—and the prisons. That’s when you realize that although you see the tourists boarding the Royal Gorge train or embarking on a zip line ride, the presence of the prisons and their separate world is very real.
The warden of the Territorial Prison, Rae Timme, who didn’t return calls for this story, has nonetheless inspired many of the officers to prioritize their health, as a member of CNN’s 2013 Fit Nation Triathlon team, headed by CNN medical correspondent Dr.

About 40 percent commute out of Canon City to Pueblo or Colorado Springs, according to Greer. It’s not just that they keep many families afloat financially, though their economic importance can’t be overstated. In the meantime, 45 miles south of Colorado Springs sits Canon City, home to seven of the state’s prisons. But unlike others, it has been shaped by its biggest employer—the Department of Corrections—and can never escape its shadow. The fallout has been that state corrections budget cuts have closed two of Canon City’s prisons and reduced the number of staff in others. For Life of the Law, Jill Rothenberg reports on this prison town–its history, its people, and the correctional facilities that touch all aspects of life there. A red train that used to be a kid’s ride on visiting day is painted with the name of the prison and still sits in the grass facing Highway 50. They would let someone go and they would commit another crime.” The Territory of Colorado went on to petition the federal government for a prison, with Canon City, Golden, Denver, and Boulder in the running. And across from the Royal Gorge Depot, the Cup and Cone is selling a lot of ice cream.  It’s clear that Canon City is a town trying to grow with the times and hang on to its historic past. As local lore has it, one of Canon City’s founders and the first sheriff of Fremont County, Anson Rudd, won the bid because of his support for Denver as capital of the state.

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