Monteith Correctional Complex
Monteith opened in 1964 as a medium security state prison. It was named after James Monteith, a civil war soldier and Colorado pioneer. The facility has undergone population increases and expansions of housing units in recent decades to accommodate rising incarceration rates.
Location and layout
Monteith is situated just northwest of Canon City, CO on over 16,000 acres. The complex consists of 24 housing units surrounded by a double perimeter fence and walls. It has a variety of workshops, recreational areas, administrative offices, and support buildings spread throughout the large grounds.
Prison population and security levels
Monteith houses around 1,400 male inmates across various security levels. The populations includes minimum-restricted to maximum security designations. Some cell blocks are high security with controlled movements while others are lower security dormitory housing.
Daily life and programs
Inmates have access to a range of programs during their sentence including education classes, vocational training, treatment counseling, faith services, and more. Typical days involve assigned work duties or programming/treatment activities. The facility has a kitchen, laundry, recreational yard, gymnasium, and library on site.
Working at Monteith
Monteith employs over 400 staff in correctional officer, vocational, educational, administrative, facilities maintenance, and healthcare roles. Positions range from case managers and counselors to nurses, groundskeepers, and kitchen workers.
Pay and benefits
Compensation at Monteith adheres to state pay scales and collective bargaining agreements. Correctional officers can earn $45,000 – $75,000 annually depending on experience and overtime. Full state benefits are also provided including health/dental insurance, retirement pension plans, paid time off, and tuition reimbursement.
Environment and culture
Working in a correctional environment can be demanding with strict security protocols, regimented schedules, understaffing pressures, and inmate behavior issues. However, team camaraderie amongst staffers is strong. Leadership emphasizes maintaining an atmosphere of control, consistency, fairness, and operating ethically and professionally.
Controversies and Issues
Like many U.S. prisons, Monteith struggles with overcrowding and not enough beds for its growing inmate population. At times the prison has operated over capacity, forcing conversions of common spaces to house more prisoners in tight quarters. Tensions and violence tend to rise with increased density.
Violence and gang activity
Assaults, fights, weapons confiscations, and self-harm incidents occur periodically despite preventative measures. Gangs are an ongoing security threat with networks inside the prison walls trafficking contraband and attempting to expand influence. Rival gang disagreements often lead to violent confrontations.
Rehabilitation and recidivism debates
There is debate regarding Monteith’s effectiveness in reducing recidivism through vocational, educational, and treatment offerings. Critics argue high recidivism rates point to failures adequately preparing inmates for release or targeting root causes of criminogenic behaviors. Supporters say more program investment and sentencing reforms are still needed.
Importance and Future
Role in the community
Monteith provides over 400 stable jobs to the area and its operations support local vendors and suppliers. Some staffers live in Canon City and contribute to the small town’s economy. Being a large state facility, Monteith also helps house inmates from across Colorado.
Potential facility updates and changes
With ageing facilities now 60 years old in some areas, major infrastructure modernization is being considered by corrections officials. Updates to security electronics/technology, fire/safety systems, housing unit wiring, roofing, and more could be undertaken in phases over the next decade to keep Monteith viable operationally.
Staffing shortages, budget constraints, policy changes, managing sick/elderly inmates, containment of contraband cell phones/drugs, and adapter prisoner programming to improve post-release outcomes are top challenges moving forward. Keeping the public safe with effective rehabilitation methods while also respecting inmate human rights requires continual balancing.
Monteith Correction Complex, while not without flaws, plays an integral role housing and attempting to reform offenders in Colorado’s prison network. Ongoing improvements to infrastructure and programming are balanced with challenges of overpopulation, gang violence, recidivism concerns, and tight budgets. Staffers face demanding environments but enrich the Canon City region through steady employment and community ties. With support, Monteith can further its mission responsibly and effectively.
What is the capacity of Monteith?
The facility has a designed capacity of 1,328 but routinely houses over 1,400 inmates with double bunks and converted common areas. Peak populations exceeded 1,600 before expansion construction.
How much recreation time do prisoners receive?
Inmates have access to exercise yards multiple times weekly for 1-2 hours. Privileges scale – higher security tiers receive less frequent access. Gyms and outside fields provide basketball, cardio equipment, and open space.
What percentage of inmates eventually reoffend?
Recidivism figures specific to Monteith are unavailable but state analysis reports around 50 percent of CO prisoners released are reincarcerated within 3 years, either for violations or new crimes.
Are there opportunities for inmates to learn vocational skills?
Yes, Monteith delivers vocational coursework in welding, carpentry, electrical wiring, solar panel installation, computer coding, dog training, agriculture, water treatment and more through instructors. Some graduates earn trade certifications.
What benefits do correctional officers receive? Full-time staffers qualify for typical government worker benefits – retirement pension packages, health insurance, paid leave accruals, 401k matching options, flexible spending accounts, employee assistance counseling, and free grief support resources.