Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Open the Door

Segregation Reforms in Colorado

Open the Door

Raemisch, Rick and Kellie Wasco. Open the Door: Segregation Reforms in Colorado. Colorado Department of Corrections, 2015.


This report, written by the executive director and deputy executive director of the Colorado DOC, outlines the state’s reforms in the use of segregation. “When reform implementation began in 2011, Colorado’s Administrative Segregation offenders numbered more than 1,500 or 7% of the DOC population. Deputy director reviews were performed to determine whether offenders who had lived in Administrative Segregation for a year or longer should be progressed back to General Population. Initial reviews resulted in a push of more than 700 offenders from Administrative Segregation to General Population. And a Residential Treatment Program was developed and implemented in late 2012 to support the transition of offenders with serious mental illness out of the administrative segregation housing setting.”

The report notes that “the reforms of the Colorado DOC have been through the eyes of sound leadership and ambitious employees. The reforms have been implemented over the course of 2 years at various stages. The data is raw and without adequate time behind it to define best practice – yet. But the initial results are worth celebrating. There were no suicides in Restrictive Housing in the last year. The rate of assaults on staff, across the agency, are half of what they were in 2006. The average length of stay in Restrictive housing is currently approximately 7 1?2 months and less than 1% of the CDOC population is housed in Restrictive Housing. Something that we are doing is working.”


Click here to view the report.


Keywords: alternatives to segregation, alternatives to solitary confinement, population reduction, reforms, long-term segregation, staff assaults, prison violence, seriously mentally ill