As part of a block vote, Denver’s City Council on Monday evening unanimously approved a community corrections contract in a step to move away from private prison operators.
The $5 million contract with University of Colorado Health Sciences Center — Addiction Research and Treatment Services runs through the end of 2023. ARTS operates the Peer I and Haven programs in Denver, which provide men and women assistance in overcoming substance abuse.
The move comes in addition to the approval of another three-year, $5 million contract last week with Independence House. The facility operates community corrections programs for men on Fillmore and Pecos streets, including treatment programs for substance use disorder and for ongoing mental health issues.
City Council also approved that contract in a block vote.
The two contracts replace halfway house services lost when City Council ended contracts with CoreCivic and GEO Group in the summer of 2019, which offered about 500 beds. In February 2020 it renewed a contract with CoreCivic as a stopgap for up to 250 treatment spots through June of this year.
The two contracts with ARTS and Independence House will make 231 community corrections spots available, according to a Dec. 16 presentation to the Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee by Greg Mauro, director of the Division of Community Corrections.
Mauro also said that community corrections will provide three levels of services based on treatment intensity, with the highest tier including programs such as cognitive behavioral treatment, significant treatment for substance use and mental health, and sex offender management.
Mauro estimated the three tiers of program types will call for 550 spots, with capacity to serve more than 1,000 people each year. According to his presentation, the re-entry programs at the highest level of intensity will take the most beds, at 300.
The contracts with ARTS and Independence House combined with the current CoreCivic agreement total 481 beds maximum, but Denver will need to replace up to 250 treatment spaces provided by CoreCivic when the contract ends by June.