Boulder County officials last week broke ground on a new “alternative sentencing facility” located adjacent to the Boulder County Jail. The $35.6 million, minimum-security facility is designed to hold 252 people who are sentenced to diversion or work release programs, or those transitioning out of incarceration. The county plans to provide substance use and behavioral health treatment at the new facility, according to county officials.

Construction is expected to be completed in 18 months. It is being paid for with revenue from a sales tax approved by voters in 2018.

Many of the people who are expected to be held at the alternative sentencing facility are currently sentenced to one of the two halfway houses in Boulder County — ICCS-Boulder, which is run by the nonprofit Intervention Inc., and LCTC-Longmont, which is run by the private-prison operator CoreCivic.

Concerned by the involvement of private companies in the county’s criminal justice system, some county officials see the new alternative sentencing facility as a way to cut ties.

“The intention is that we will provide the services in-house,” Boulder County Commissioner Claire Levy told Boulder Reporting Lab. “Outcomes are not as good in the private prisons and in the community corrections programs that are run by private, for-profit companies because the profit motive reduces the incentive to really provide rich, robust services.”

See also: Boulder County Jail struggles to implement Colorado mental health law limiting solitary confinement

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