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How To Find An Inmate In Colorado’s Department of Corrections

Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver

Colorado ranks close to the middle of US incarceration rates with 20,136 people in state custody, as of June 2018. There are 20 state prisons run under the Department of Corrections and four for-profit facilities currently under contract with the DOC. The Colorado prison system currently does not have a physical death row.

Colorado Prison Statistics

As of June 2018, Caucasians make up the largest ethnic portion of Colorado’s prison population at 9,144. Hispanics rank second at 6,394, followed by African Americans at 3, 483, Native Americans at 689, and 249 Asians. The largest age bracket is between the ages of 30 and 39, numbering 6,841. Roughly 90% of the state’s prison population is male.

The Colorado Department of Corrections

The East Canon Complex

Seven of Colorado’s prisons are known as the East Canon Complex, located in and around Canon City, about 45 miles south of Colorado Springs. The oldest of the seven is the original state penitentiary, which was built in 1871 before Colorado became a state. It was rededicated as the medium security Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility after the new Colorado state pen was built in the 1990s.

The Colorado State Penitentiary is the state’s maximum security prison that lies just east of Canon City. It house’s Colorado’s most dangerous criminals, and also houses the state Lethal Injection Chamber, currently not in use. All inmates in the state pen are in solitary confinement.

The other prisons in the East Canon Complex are the Arrowhead Correctional Center, the Centennial Correctional Facility, the Fremont Correctional Facility, Four Mile Correctional Center, and Skyline Correctional Center.

Wooden judge gavel with USA state flag on sound block - Colorado

Other Facilities

All prisoners entering the Colorado DOC system are first sent to the Denver Reception & Diagnostic Center before going to their assigned facilities. The other prison in the Denver area is the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility, which holds most of the state’s female prisoners. It has a capacity of 900 inmates.

The Colorado DOC houses inmates at its other facilities currently located in Buena Vista, Golden, Ordway, Pueblo, Rifle, Limon, and Trinidad. The Youthful Offender System is a maximum security prison in Pueblo housing most male and female offenders between the ages of 14 and 25. Prisoners previously sentenced to death are housed in the Sterling Correctional Facility in Sterling, in the northeast corner of the state.

Three of the for-profit prisons currently operating under a contract with Colorado’s DOC are the Bent County Correctional Facility in Los Animas, Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs, and the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. The Crowley County and Bent County Facilities are run by the CoreCivic Corporation. The GEO Group corporation runs the Southern Plains Youth Prison in Canon City that houses about 200 inmates.

Man in Prison - Department of Corrections Jump Suit

4 Steps to Find an Inmate in the Colorado DOC

The Colorado DOC maintains a database where you can search for somebody in state custody. You can search the database by first and last name, or by the inmate’s state DOC number. A search should turn up the name of the facility where the person is being held.

1. Find Colorado Court Records

The Colorado Judicial Branch does not allow access to trial court case documents or other court documents through its website. You can obtain information on action taken by the state court through a commercial service website like CheckThem. The Colorado Judicial Branch does not allow copies of court documents to be obtained through a commercial site. The Colorado Judicial Branch says you can access records by name or case number through www.cocourts.com, and Background Information Services, Inc. Those services charge a fee.

2. Utilize Free Online Court Services

The Colorado court system is divided into District Courts, County Courts, Municipal Courts, Water Courts, Denver Probate Court, and the Denver County Juvenile Court. The district courts handle all civil and criminal cases that go over the jurisdiction of the other state courts. County and municipal courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of criminal and civil cases. You can start a records search by going to Colorado Courts by County.

County courts hear criminal cases that include misdemeanors, petty offenses, and initial hearings for all other criminal cases. They also handle most civil cases that involve claims of less than $15,000. County courts share criminal jurisdiction with the district courts.

Colorado’s county courts allow you to look for court records through a docket search. You can search by case number, party first and last name or company name, or through an attorney bar number. There is no fee to use the docket search service.

3. Find Colorado Vital Records

In Colorado, you can obtain vital records like birth certificates, marriage, divorce, and death certificates through the Colorado Vital Records State Department of Health. A copy of the original document can also be found at the clerk’s office in the county where the event occurred. There are many ways to find vital records online for free that range from performing a simple Google search, or searching a national database through a service like vitalrec.com.

4. Corrections Records

The state of Colorado maintains a rich resource for research through the Colorado State Archives department. There, you can find Colorado State Penitentiary and Reformatory records. The archives include biological information on particular inmates, and information about their crime, sentence, parole, or pardon. You can also find mugshots on most inmates in the archives as well. 

interior jail prison visiting row behind the glass

How to Contact an Inmate in the Colorado DOC

The Colorado DOC allows anyone to contact an inmate in state custody by either phone, email, or through the US Mail. If you want to do so by phone, you need to set up an account to use the Colorado Inmate Phone System (CIPS). This lets the offender place a collect call. Calls cannot be placed to the offender. You can set up an account online at www.connectnetwork.com,or by calling 1-800-483-8314.

You can email an offender held by the Colorado DOC by using JPay. JPay is a private company that provides communications services to prisons throughout the US. JPay requires a fee to set up an account. You need the inmate’s DOC number to contact them. Offenders can only respond to emails through the US Mail.

Snail mail sent to an inmate must have their legal name, DOC number, name of the facility and facility address, and a return address. The return address can also be a JPay letter ID for offender email. Offenders are allowed one personal letter per week, and letters are subject to search for contraband. The DOC says mail is read, censored, or rejected “based on legitimate interest of order and security.” You can find facility location information through the DOC’s facility locator.

A History of Colorado’s Prisons

Colorado’s Death Row

The state of Colorado has had no physical death row since 2011, when federal death row inmate Nathan Dunlap successfully sued the state about a lack of outdoor exercise facilities at the Colorado State Penitentiary. The ACLU argued Dunlap’s denial of fresh air and exercise was “cruel and unusual punishment.” All death row prisoners have since been moved to the Sterling Correctional Facility. Since the court ruling, 24-hour solitary confinement for any prison has not been allowed and all prisoners are entitled to some time in the yard.

Grungy Death Row Sign At A Maximum Security Prison

Famous Colorado Inmates

Colorado’s prisons have been the holding facilities for a few well-known criminals.

  • Charles “Chucky” Limbrick, Jr. was convicted in 1988 at the age of 15 for killing his mother and was the youngest person in state history to be tried as an adult. He was sentenced to 40 years to life, but was pardoned in 2011 by then-Governor Bill Ritter.
  • Serial killer Scott Lee Kimball was sentenced to 70 years in 2009. 
  •  James Eagan Holmes was sentenced to more than 300 years in prison for killing 12 people in 2012.

Past and Present Death Row Inmates

  • Nathan Dunlap – in custody in the Sterling Correctional Facility.
  • John Gilbert Graham – executed in the state in 1957 for exploding a plane with 55 passengers near Longmont, Colorado. Graham blew up the plane with a timed dynamite bomb he had put in his mother’s suitcase as part of an apparent scheme to claim life insurance money.
  • Sir Mario Evans – sentenced to death in 2008 for killing seven witnesses of a murder he was also convicted of.
  • Robert Ray, Co-defendant of Sir Mario Evans  – sentenced to die two years later for the same crime.
  • Benjamin Radcliff – sentenced to death by hanging in 1896 for killing three school board members in Park County.

Riots

In 2004, several hundred prisoners rioted at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, leaving more than a dozen inmates injured, several units uninhabitable, and the vocational greenhouse destroyed. A riot at the state pen in 1929 killed eight guards and five prisoners. A female kitchen employee was killed and another was seriously wounded during a disturbance while breakfast was being prepared at the Crowley facility in 2012.

Finding an Inmate in Colorado Through a Public Records Search

Using an online public records search service like CheckThem can save you valuable time. CheckThem.com scans billions of public records of local, county, state, and federal agencies in a matter of seconds. A background check will turn up arrest records, convictions, and any pending litigation related to the person you’re looking for.