May 6, 2021
by C.S. Robledo
Colorado Department of Corrections
The Colorado Department of Corrections presents a facade of honesty, integrity, and progressive agenda to the rest of the world, while simultaneously violating prisoner rights. During this pandemic, one prison in particular decided to handle COVID-19 in its own way. Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (AVCF) is an old prison in Ordway, Colorado. It is essentially in the middle of nowhere.
This prison houses all of the inmates who serve as operators for the Colorado DMV phone line. Convicted sex offenders and murderers answer phones all day and assist members of the public with their DMV issues. This prison profits from this scheme but pays its phone operators pitiful cents on the dollar.
When the CDOC was hit with waves of COVID positives, this author was stuck at Sterling prison (SCF), which most say was “hit the hardest.” At that time in 2020, AVCF managed to dodge any and all COVID-19 outbreaks. Then, in October 2020, a few staff and a few of the 995 prisoners tested positive. Rather than quarantine or isolate the infected, the AVCF warden (Sean Pruitt) and his assistant warden (Mark Fairbairn) and their health services administrator (Lindsay Gouty) chose instead to purposely move their infected prisoners to non-infected units. They waited about 10 days before swapping the newly infected with other non-infected.
For example, Unit 3, the prison’s highly honored “incentive unit,” was completely emptied out during this coordinated exposure. Its 180 or so occupants were scattered among the prison’s 5 remaining units, as other prisoners from other units were housed in 3.
Staff waited until all moves were complete to test their hypothesis.
On November 11, 2020, AVCF conducted its first mass testing of prisoners and staff.
On November 13, the results were in: Over 95% positive.
Three weeks later, there were no more positives. The staff commended themselves and their strategy.
It cost 6 prisoners their lives, however, and was done illegally and without consent. It violated the Nuremberg code. It violated the Hippocratic oath. Now Mark Fairbairn is head warden. Lindsay Gouty is still the health services administrator. The victims’ families were never told of exactly why they were sacrificed, nor how. AVCF is still considered a great prison with great staff and great medical care. Colorado DOC has no plans to change anything.
Colorado Department of Corrections gave all staff until September 30, 2021 to get vaccinated. It is looking like many staff are vehemently against this. We have literally heard staff tell their superiors that they are quitting or purposely getting fired.
I estimate that 1 in 5 DOC staff, including nurses, will be gone by October 2, 2021. Most Colorado prisons will be locked down until the National Guard can help. Be watching. It’s gonna result in 5% of all prisoners being released.