House Bill 1019 includes a study with a pre-determined outcome of closing private prisons. The Bill screamed through the House and has now been introduced into the Senate. It is scheduled for Hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow (February 12, 2020) at 1:30 pm.

Bent and Crowley County Commissioners, along with the Bent County Development Foundation are urging community members to join us in our fight against this legislation. If private prisons were to be removed from our communities the impact would be devastating. Those of us that remember the closing of the VA and DOC located at Fort Lyon would see a similar effect again; however, our economy is already crippled from these past closures, so this type of event would likely bankrupt the counties, force massive reductions in public services and funding for special districts, increase our loss of population, and create a drastic spike in unemployment across not only the two counties, but across Southeast Colorado as a whole.

If you are able, there will be a 40-passenger bus departing from the Bent County Community Center tomorrow morning at 8:15am going to the State Capital to make our presence known to legislators. There will be opportunity for community members to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the impact that closing the private prison in our community would mean. Even if you’re not interested in speaking, showing strength in numbers will influence the decisions of those making decisions that could ultimately negatively impact our communities.

If you are willing to testify, and you are given the opportunity to do so please prepare your comments based on the following guidelines:

You will most likely have only 2-3 minutes to make your comments; so please be concise and focus on what you consider to be your most important point.

Commissioners have already provided financial information to Legislators, and there will be specific community members who will be addressing these impacts- we need the community to speak about the impacts that will be felt on a social and personal level.

This bill is the last bill on the agenda for tomorrow’s hearing. It is imperative that everyone is present at the beginning of the hearing (starting at 1:30pm)- as bills can be called out of order, and there is no telling when the bill will be called. Regardless of if you are riding the bus or not, please make sure to be present by 1:30pm and be prepared to stay for the duration of the hearing- please be aware that this hearing could last several hours.

If you’re able to join the convoy tomorrow, please contact Calvin Feik at the Bent County Courthouse to let him know that you would like a seat on the bus. Following is his contact information:

Email: bent.admin@bentcounty.net Phone: 719-456-2223

If you are not able to physically attend tomorrow’s hearing, you still can have your voice heard. Following is a list of Senators and their contact information. Send them an email voicing your concerns and plead your case against HB1019.

It is imperative that we, as a regional community spanning all Southeast Colorado, show our unity in this fight. We cannot afford to lose this major employer, and we must show those in Denver the faces of the communities that will be the most impacted by their decisions.

Please make the commitment to show your support for our communities.