Top 5 Worst Prisons in Colorado [With All Details ]
Top 5 Worst Prisons in Colorado [With All Details ]

Top 5 Worst Prisons in Colorado [With All Details ]


Welcome to our in-depth exploration of the top five worst prisons in Colorado. This captivating journey will take you behind the cold, imposing walls of these notorious correctional facilities, exposing their dark histories and grim reputations. From tales of violence to accounts of overcrowding, we will delve into the depths of Colorado’s penitentiaries. Join us as we uncover the shocking realities within these walls, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the top five worst prisons in Colorado.

Top 5 Worst Prisons in Colorado

Colorado is home to several correctional facilities that have gained notoriety for their troubling conditions and high levels of violence. Let’s explore the top five worst prisons in Colorado and shed light on the issues that plague them.

Colorado State Penitentiary

A haven for hardened criminals

The Colorado State Penitentiary, located in Cañon City, tops the list of the worst prisons in Colorado. Known for housing some of the state’s most dangerous and violent offenders, this maximum-security facility has a reputation for its harsh conditions and the prevalence of gang activity. With over 750 inmates and limited resources, the Colorado State Penitentiary struggles to maintain order and provide adequate rehabilitation programs.

Overcrowding and its consequences

One of the major issues faced by the Colorado State Penitentiary is severe overcrowding. The prison operates at a capacity well beyond what it was designed to accommodate, leading to heightened tensions among inmates and a higher risk of violence. Overcrowding also strains the already limited resources, making it difficult to provide essential services and programs that aid in rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation efforts falling short

Despite efforts to implement rehabilitation programs, the Colorado State Penitentiary falls short in providing comprehensive support to its inmates. The lack of resources, coupled with overcrowding and a high-security environment, hampers the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts. Without adequate programs to address underlying issues, inmates often return to a life of crime upon release, perpetuating the cycle of violence.

Notable incidents and controversies

The Colorado State Penitentiary has been marred by several high-profile incidents and controversies. In 2017, a major riot erupted, resulting in multiple injuries and extensive property damage. The incident highlighted the facility’s struggle to maintain order and control within its walls. Additionally, reports of excessive use of force by prison staff have raised concerns about the treatment of inmates and the need for increased oversight.

Canon City Correctional Complex

A complex plagued by violence

The Canon City Correctional Complex, also located in Cañon City, is notorious for its high levels of violence and gang activity. With a capacity of over 1,500 inmates, this medium-security facility faces significant challenges in maintaining a safe and secure environment. The prevalence of gangs within the complex exacerbates tensions and increases the risk of violent incidents.

Inadequate security measures

One of the key issues plaguing the Canon City Correctional Complex is the inadequate security measures in place. Despite being a medium-security facility, the complex struggles to prevent contraband from entering, leading to an increase in drug use and gang-related activities. The lack of effective security measures compromises the safety of both staff and inmates, contributing to the overall instability within the prison.

Overworked and understaffed

Staffing shortages at the Canon City Correctional Complex have become a significant concern. The facility is consistently understaffed, leaving correctional officers overworked and unable to maintain adequate supervision and control. This understaffing contributes to an environment where violence can flourish, as the limited number of staff struggle to maintain order among a large inmate population.

The impact on inmate rehabilitation

The Canon City Correctional Complex’s challenging environment and limited resources have a detrimental impact on inmate rehabilitation efforts. With overcrowding, violence, and a lack of staff, it becomes difficult to implement effective programs that support successful reintegration into society. Inmates often leave the complex without the necessary tools and skills to break the cycle of criminal behavior.

Territorial Correctional Facility

A historic prison with a dark past

The Territorial Correctional Facility, located in Cañon City, is a historic prison that dates back to the 1870s. Despite its historical significance, this medium-security facility has gained notoriety for its inhumane conditions and lack of resources. Over the years, the Territorial Correctional Facility has faced numerous challenges in providing a safe and rehabilitative environment for its inmates.

Inhumane conditions and lack of resources

The Territorial Correctional Facility has long struggled with inhumane conditions and limited resources. The aging infrastructure poses significant challenges in maintaining a safe and livable environment. Issues such as inadequate heating and cooling systems, poor ventilation, and unsanitary conditions contribute to the overall deterioration of the facility.

Riots and violence within its walls

Instances of riots and violence have plagued the Territorial Correctional Facility. Overcrowding, coupled with the lack of resources and deteriorating conditions, creates a volatile atmosphere within the prison. In the past, major riots have erupted, resulting in injuries, property damage, and the loss of life. These incidents highlight the urgent need for comprehensive reforms within the facility.

The struggle for reform

Efforts towards reform at the Territorial Correctional Facility have been ongoing but challenging. The historic nature of the prison makes renovations and upgrades complex and costly. The facility requires significant investment to address infrastructure issues and improve living conditions for inmates. The road to reform is long, but crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of both inmates and staff.

Limon Correctional Facility

A remote facility with limited oversight

The Limon Correctional Facility, located in Limon, is a remote prison that has faced its fair share of challenges. The facility’s remote location poses difficulties in terms of oversight and access to resources. With limited scrutiny, the Limon Correctional Facility has struggled to address the issues that contribute to its ranking among the worst prisons in Colorado.

A breeding ground for gangs and violence

The Limon Correctional Facility has gained notoriety for being a breeding ground for gangs and violence. The remote location and lack of strict oversight have allowed gangs to flourish within the prison, leading to increased tensions and the potential for violent confrontations. Gang-related activities often dictate the atmosphere within the facility, making it difficult to maintain order and ensure inmate safety.

Persistent issues with mental health care

One of the significant challenges faced by the Limon Correctional Facility is the lack of adequate mental health care. Many inmates within the facility struggle with mental health issues, ranging from severe disorders to substance abuse problems. However, the limited resources and remote location hinder the provision of comprehensive mental health services, leaving inmates without the necessary support and treatment.

The uphill battle for change

Addressing the issues within the Limon Correctional Facility presents an uphill battle. The facility requires increased staffing levels, improved oversight, and comprehensive mental health programs to foster a safer and more rehabilitative environment. However, the remote location and limited resources make these reforms challenging to implement. The dedication of stakeholders and continued advocacy are necessary to initiate meaningful change.

Crowley County Correctional Facility

A facility plagued by gang activity

The Crowley County Correctional Facility, located in Olney Springs, has gained notoriety for its persistent gang activity. Gangs within the facility wield significant influence and contribute to the overall instability and violence. The prevalence of gangs creates a hostile environment for both inmates and staff, posing significant challenges in maintaining order and ensuring inmate safety.

Escapes and contraband smuggling

The Crowley County Correctional Facility has faced issues with inmate escapes and contraband smuggling. The lack of effective security measures and the influence of gangs make it easier for inmates to plan and execute escape attempts. Additionally, contraband, including drugs and weapons, find their way into the facility, further exacerbating the challenges faced by staff in maintaining a safe environment.

Staffing shortages and inadequate training

Staffing shortages and inadequate training have plagued the Crowley County Correctional Facility. The facility struggles to attract and retain qualified correctional officers, leaving the prison understaffed. This shortage compromises the safety of both staff and inmates, as there are not enough personnel to effectively supervise and respond to incidents within the facility.

Efforts towards improvement

Efforts are being made to address the issues within the Crowley County Correctional Facility. Steps such as increasing staffing levels, implementing stricter security measures, and enhancing staff training are being taken to create a safer environment. Collaboration with external agencies and organizations is crucial in implementing comprehensive reforms that can improve the overall conditions within the facility.


Q1: What makes a prison one of the worst in Colorado?

A: Several factors contribute to a prison’s ranking, including violence, overcrowding, inadequate rehabilitation programs, and systemic issues.

Q2: Are these prisons safe for inmates?

A: The safety of inmates within these prisons is a major concern, as violence and gang activity are prevalent in many of them.

Q3: Have there been any successful reforms in these prisons?

A: While there have been some efforts towards reform, the challenges are substantial, and progress has been slow.

Q4: How does the overcrowding issue affect these prisons?

A: Overcrowding leads to heightened tensions, increased violence, and limited resources for inmates.

Q5: What measures are being taken to address the problems within these prisons?

A: Efforts are being made to improve security, increase staffing levels, enhance rehabilitation programs, and address mental health care.

Q6: Is there hope for these prisons to become better in the future?

A: With dedicated efforts and substantial reforms, there is hope that these prisons can be transformed into safer and more rehabilitative environments.


The top five worst prisons in Colorado face significant challenges that hinder their ability to provide safe and rehabilitative environments for inmates. Issues such as violence, overcrowding, inadequate resources, and the influence of gangs contribute to their troubled reputations. However, there is hope for improvement. Through dedicated efforts, comprehensive reforms, and collaboration with external stakeholders, these prisons can aspire to become safer and more conducive to successful inmate rehabilitation.

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