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Uncertain future

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Hudson Correctional inmates returning to Alaska

By Gene Sears

A local employer might be in trouble, as its customer base heads north to Alaska.
    Hudson Correctional Facility, long a home for some of Alaska’s less-than-stellar residents, is losing those tenants come September.

    It’s a move that’s been a long time coming for the prisoners housed at the facility since 2009. The 1,250-bed medium security private prison located on North Juniper Street now houses inmates contracted from the Alaska Department of Corrections.
    That agreement has always been temporary in nature, while the ADC constructed their new Goose Creek Correctional Center in Wasilla, a $240-million, 1,536-bed, medium-security correctional center for long-term male felony offenders.
     That facility is now operational, with full operations phase-in completed in the second quarter of 2012. Inmate transfers began shortly after.
    That brings into question the use of the Hudson facility, operated by Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group, which employs more than 200 in a variety of capacities, ranging from guards and administration to services and support staff. GEO Group picked up the contract and ownership of the prison from Cornell Companies in 2010.
    Information released by Cornell in 2009 indicated that the state of Alaska was paying $59 a day for each inmate. At that time, the annual salary budget for Hudson Correctional was $7.3 million. No Colorado prisoners are currently housed in the facility, and there are currently no announced contracts either with other states or Colorado’s Department of Corrections.
    The prison has been the site of some high-profile incidents throughout the years, the most notable a prisoner uprising in April 2010. Sparking that incident, cell doors were inadvertently opened in one housing unit designated for disciplinary problem prisoners, releasing numerous inmates. The two guards overseeing the unit fled, and up to a dozen inmates began vandalizing the unit, destroying sprinkler heads and computer equipment and partially flooding the unit.
    In another high-profile case in 2012, prison guard Amber Gunter, 27, of Brighton pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years of intensely supervised sex offender probation for her involvement with a prisoner. Gunter stood accused of sexual contact with a 35-year-old convicted murderer from Anchorage, Alaska.
    Gunter, who worked at the prison for 14 months, resigned after the allegations first surfaced. She also received two years probation for official misconduct, a sentence to be served concurrently.