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the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility in Colorado

Fort Lyon Correctional Facility was a prison located in Bent County, Colorado that opened in 1929. It is most well known for its history of housing transgender inmates and providing constant medical care for inmates with chronic health conditions. However, in 2012 Fort Lyon closed and its inmates were transferred to other facilities in the state. The closure of this unique facility brought up many questions about the care and accommodations that should be provided to transgender and chronically ill inmates within the Colorado prison system.

Why Fort Lyon Housed Transgender Inmates

For many years, Fort Lyon Correctional Facility housed all of Colorado’s transgender inmates. Fort Lyon provided transgender inmates with a safe, supportive environment among other inmates with similar identities and experiences. The facility also had medical staff specially trained to assist transgender inmates with gender transition, including providing hormone therapy, mental health services, and other care. Housing transgender inmates together at Fort Lyon allowed them access to these targeted services.

Medical Care at Fort Lyon

In addition to serving transgender inmates, Fort Lyon was known as a facility that provided constant medical supervision and care for inmates with chronic health conditions. This included dialysis treatment, IV medications, cancer treatment, hospice care, and other intensive services that required specialist staff. Fort Lyon was equipped as a medical prison that could accommodate and care for inmates that needed around-the-clock care and monitoring.

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Fort Lyon’s Closure in 2012

In 2012, after years of declining prison populations in Colorado, it was determined that Fort Lyon Correctional Facility was too large and too expensive for the state to continue operating. With only about 600 inmates left at the facility by 2012, the cost per inmate was very high compared to other prisons. As a result, the state made the decision to close Fort Lyon entirely.

Transfer of Inmates to LaVista

When Fort Lyon closed in 2012, its inmates including transgender inmates and chronically ill patients, were transferred to LaVista Correctional Facility. LaVista had recently opened as a dedicated medical prison facility in 2010. Officials stated that LaVista would have the capacity and medical resources to take on all of Fort Lyon’s inmates and continue their care and programming. However, prisoner advocates expressed concern about how well LaVista could recreate the safe environment Fort Lyon had cultivated.

Impact on Transgender Inmates

The closure of Fort Lyon brought up many uncertainties around the treatment of transgender inmates transferred elsewhere. While LaVista did continue to house some transgender inmates, others were moved to general population prisons. There was concern from advocacy groups that transgender inmates would face harassment and discrimination at facilities not equipped to meet their needs. They argued prisons like Fort Lyon provided security, medical care, and peace of mind for this vulnerable population.

Future Options for Transgender Inmates

While nothing has replaced Fort Lyon since its closure, there has been ongoing debate about how to house transgender inmates in Colorado. Some argue dedicated facilities like Fort Lyon should be reopened to provide safe accommodations. However, budget constraints make this unlikely. Others have pushed for transgender housing units within general prisons, increased staff training, and strong anti-discrimination policies to protect transgender inmates in any facility. The discussion remains active as the state works to balance resources and the needs of this group.

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In summary, Fort Lyon Correctional Facility served the important purpose of housing and caring for Colorado’s transgender inmates as well as chronically ill inmates for many decades. However, state budget cuts and declining prison populations led to the facility’s closure in 2012. While the medical care was transferred to LaVista Correctional Facility, the decommissioning of Fort Lyon raised questions about ongoing care and safety of transgender inmates moved to general population prisons not designed with their needs in mind. As Colorado’s prison system continues evolving, the programs and protections provided at Fort Lyon could serve as an example of the accommodations transgender inmates require.


Where is Fort Lyon located?

Fort Lyon is located in Bent County in southeastern Colorado, about two hours east of Pueblo.

Why did Fort Lyon close?

Declining prison populations and state budget cuts led to the decision to close Fort Lyon in 2012. The state determined the facility was too large and expensive to continue operating.

Where were inmates transferred after closure?

Most inmates from Fort Lyon were transferred to the new LaVista Correctional Facility, a medical prison that could accommodate their needs. However, some transgender inmates were moved to general population prisons.

Does Colorado still house transgender inmates?

Yes, Colorado continues to house transgender inmates both at dedicated medical facilities like LaVista and within general population prisons.

What options exist now for transgender inmates?

Advocacy groups continue to push for accommodations like transgender housing units, strong anti-discrimination policies, and staff training to protect transgender inmates. Some argue dedicated facilities specifically for transgender inmates should be reopened.

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