Rifle Correctional Center receives praise for work program

State leaders and Colorado Department of Corrections officials tour a facility.

State Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, and Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams recently toured and assessed the Rifle Correctional Center.

The Western Slope visit by the state’s top prisons official also included the minimum security facility in Delta.

Recently, the Department of Corrections started the TakeTWO (Transitional Work Opportunity) program designed to reduce recidivism by offering incarcerated individuals who are nearing the end of their stay an opportunity to work outside for private employers, a news release states.

Many of these employers may be experiencing problems with workforce recruitment. Work opportunities allow for individuals to create and maintain positive relationships; earn money to assist with their reentry, restitution, child support and court fees; and maintain accountability, the release states.

“We know that work not only provides financial resources for these men and women, but also a sense of purpose and pride,” Williams said in the release. “The best way we can protect public safety is to ensure that the men and women who are returning to our communities have money in the bank, a job, a place to live and community connections.

All of the evidence has shown that having those pieces in place helps to prevent recidivism.”

Williams, who’s led the Department since 2019, believes TakeTWO to be an integral part of overall reforms at DOC directed toward the reduction of inmates re-offending, the release states.

Williams has created partnerships with several research institutions, colleges, nonprofits and policy think tanks to apply evidence-based best practices to DOC’s operations, the release states.

State leaders and Colorado Department of Corrections officials stand with inmates.
Submitted / CDOC

“Soper and Williams visited the facilities and job sites where nine inmates are employed under the TakeTWO program,” the release states. Alpine Lumbers, an employee-owned lumber company, is among the companies that believes in the TakeTWO program and not only has hired incarcerated men to join their team but has expressed a commitment to hiring incarcerated people returning to the community after their release, the release states.

Warden Tom Werlich, who has worked in corrections for more than 30 years and leads both the Delta and Rifle facilities, said this innovative program has had a positive impact on morale of the inmates, providing them an opportunity to assist with their reentry efforts, the release states.

“We are grateful to Director Williams and legislators like Representative Soper who are dedicated to the success of this population, many of whom will soon be our neighbors,” he said in the release.

Soper, for his part, sees a great deal of potential with TakeTWO.

“I was impressed to see the TakeTWO program in action. At Alpine Lumber, inmates worked alongside employees,” he said in the release. “By developing skills and earning minimum wage, they’ll be able to save money to pay back their debt to victims and society. Programs like these should reduce recidivism and save the taxpayers money.”

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