Jul 7, 2014 8:37 PM by Andy Koen

Third Pueblo halfway house to close

PUEBLO - Criminal offenders receiving substance abuse treatment at Crossroads Turning Points in Pueblo will be moved to other halfway houses around the state or released into the community over the next sixty days. When the county's contract with Crossroads expired last month, the owners told commissioners they would not renew.

"We've been notified by them that they will no longer be providing those services within Pueblo County," said Commissioner Terry Hart.

Auditors with the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice consistently ranked the facility as having the highest risk of escape of any community corrections program in the state. In their most recent risk analysis, the inspectors also gave the facility unsatisfactory marks for staff training, securing of medications and the monitoring of offenders while they search for jobs.

However, Commissioner Hart believes the decision was based more on the bottom line than on risk to the community. The county recently adopted new security requirements for its community corrections vendors that increased costs.

"I think they came to the conclusion that they could not, for the amount of money that was involved in it, provide those level of services," Hart said.

The board voted to extend their existing contract with Crossroads by two months to allow for the transition.

Crossroads is third failing halfway house in Pueblo to close in the last 14 months. The county allowed their contract with Minnequa Community Corrections to expire in January and the former Community Corrections Services Inc closed last May amid numerous security lapses uncovered in failed inspections.

The closure of Crossroads leaves the community with limited bed space for offenders in need of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

"We do have the ability to provide some of those services within the facilities that we already have in place and so we'll probably be utilizing those," Hart explained. "But we'd like to have a more detailed conversation about that."

The county is also creating an oversight committee that would keep tabs on community corrections contractors. At Monday's meeting, County Attorney Gregory Styduhar said he was reviewing bylaws drafted for the committee ahead of any resolution by commissioners to establish the panel.

Pueblo is the only county in Colorado where commissioners directly oversee community corrections without the input of an appointed board.

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