While there are many famous prisons and penitentiaries in the United States including Leavenworth in Kansas, Sing-Sing in New York State, Alcatraz in California, and Huntsville in Texas, there is one county that contains so many prisons, it can rightfully be considered the epicenter of mass incarceration. This place is Canon City-Florence, Colorado (Fremont County), which is home to no less than thirteen (13) such facilities (9 state and 4 Federal) housing approximately 7,600 prisoners or nearly 17% of the county’s entire population.
The community is apparently very proud of its status, as they market themselves as “Colorado’s Correctional Capitol.” The area has also been monikered as “Prison Valley.” Here’s the list of incarceration facilities located here:
- Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility
- Colorado Women’s Correctional Facility
- Cañon Minimum Centers
- Skyline Correctional Center
- Four Mile Correctional Center
- Centennial Correctional Facility
- Arrowhead Correctional Center
- Fremont Correctional Facility
- Colorado State Penitentiary
- Florence Prison Camp
- Florence Federal Correctional Institution
- Florence United States Penitentiary
- Florence Administrative Maximum Penitentiary
Admittedly, prisons in some form are a necessary evil. But, to be boastful of them, particularly about being home to so many, comes across to this author as shallow and cold. Whether they are prisoners or not, the residents of these facilities are human beings. Many will spend a large proportion of their lives in this community without freedom. No matter how well run, they will likely suffer abuse, cruelties, and indignities.
Prisons are not something to be proud of, but what they really are is the following:
Prisons are a sobering and somber reminder that numerous tragedies have taken place; that lives have been torn apart, lost, or ruined; that society may have failed some manner; that some may be wrongfully imprisoned; that some may have unjust trials, sentences, or parole hearings; that some many be imprisoned for petty crimes to help maintain artificial occupancy rates and profits; that many of these prisoners are simply being stored away to be forgotten; and that mass incarceration is not a solution, it is a lazy approach to crime and punishment.
If you would like to learn more about the topic of mass incarceration, here are visual links to a couple of books on the topic via Amazon*.
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