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ANCHORAGE - With the Goose Creek Correctional Center still three years from completion, Alaska is shifting 800 of its overflow inmates from a private prison in Arizona to one in Colorado.
Alaska Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt said the prisoners will leave the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., for the Hudson Correctional Facility northeast of Denver before the end of the year.
The state will be paying $59 per day per prisoner at Hudson, down from the $65 per day charge at Red Rock. That translates to roughly $1.75 million per year.
Schmidt said the Hudson prison beat other bids because of price and because its programs are similar to those planned for the $240-million prison under construction in Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Those services include substance abuse programs, anger-management classes, GED classes, parenting classes, and vocational and technical training. It will also have a re-entry unit to help prisoners make the transition back to society.
The prison contract went out to bid earlier this year. Two of the finalists were Corrections Corp. of America - which runs the Arizona prison - and Cornell Companies, a Texas company that Alaska already uses to run halfway houses in Anchorage, Bethel and Nome.
Charles Seigel, spokesman for Cornell, said the 1,250-bed Hudson prison is scheduled to be completed in the next few months. He said current plans are to house only Alaska prisoners there, but the facility is designed in such a way that it can easily separate prison populations.
The inmates heading to Colorado will be transported by air, with each $35,000 flight carrying 120 prisoners, Schmidt said.
Groundbreaking at the Goose Creek prison began earlier this year and inmates are expected to be added in the first half of 2012. It will have more than 1,500 beds for male prisoners.