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CCA Facility Cited for Sex Scandal

On Sept. 17, 1999, Colorado Dept. of Corrections officials confirmed that they are investigating allegations of brutality, sexual misconduct and drug trafficking involving guards at the CCA-operated Kit Carson Corr. Facility in Burlington, which houses around 650 state prisoners. The investigation began in July but was not disclosed until it was almost complete.

Ron Alford, warden at the CCA prison, was suspended; kitchen manager Rocky Stewart was fired for undisclosed reasons: and CCA guard Shanna Turpin, 29, was charged with introducing contraband into the facility. According to a court affidavit, Turpin was also accused of engaging in a sexual affair with prisoner Moses Martinez.

"I don't know that I would characterize [the alleged misconduct] as isolated," stated Colorado DOC spokeswoman Liz McDonough, "but I don't know that I wouldn't characterize it as isolated. We're talking about multiple allegations involving multiple people." McDonough said "a number" of the 200-person staff at the private prison had quit or been fired. CCA spokesperson Susan Hart declined to comment.

Up to fifteen female employees, including guards and nurses, are suspected of having affairs with prisoners since the Kit Carson facility opened in November 1998. Former guard Shanna Turpin said some employees sought relationships with prisoners for protection due to a staffing shortage. "We were looking for support we weren't getting from [other] officers," she said. "I was alone in charge of 228 male inmates, three pods, just me. I don't regret having inmates stand behind me."

The DOC investigation began following the brutal beating of a prisoner who had tried to escape: the beating by guards was witnessed by visitors at the facility. During a subsequent five day lockdown prisoners reportedly were denied drinking water and showers, and were assaulted by guards. The investigation then uncovered extensive sexual misconduct at the prison.

"You just have to lay it at the feet of management if they're not clear that these relationships are inappropriate," said DOC spokeswoman McDonough. Under pressure from the Dept. of Corrections, CCA placed warden Ron Alford on administrative leave in August. "I'm good at being a warden. I'm good at my profession. I don't know why I'm sitting at home," Alford complained.

CCA's Kit Carson Corr. Facility has also been criticized for hiring Tasha Moore, 23, who had a prior felony record, as a guard. She later resigned. The state pays CCA approximately $32,000 a day to house 647 prisoners at the facility.

Sources: Rocky Mountain News, Corrections Digest

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