The San Carlos unit of the Colorado Department of Corrections is an example of what the best practices and facilities look like.

It was built on the grounds of the state mental hospital, in Pueblo, as a place to treat inmates who are mentally ill. When it was originally built it housed 250 inmates. Recently, it was doubled in size. These photos were taken on a tour of the facilities in 1989.

Greenhouse Work Inspires New Occupation

"This inmate told me he was a repeat low level non-violent drug offender. The Colorado prison system has some large greenhouses. This inmate, along with many others, was making floral arrangement to be sold commercially. He told me that working with flowers was the best therapy he had ever gotten in prison and he hoped to get a job as a florist once he was released.  - Alan

Group Therapy

Inmates with similar mental health issues can work in a group therapy session together with a counselor.

Life Skills and Computers

Part of the Life Skills program are computer based "learn at your own speed" math and language programs.

Art Therapy

"This woman was unable to communicate in words, I don't know why. She put together this doll from pre-cut parts. She seemed barely present. I cannot imagine why she is in a prison. But at least the Colorado Dept. of Corrections had something for her. I guess I was so astounded that I could not process what I was seeing so I didn't ask why she was there and what might become of her. She did not respond but only did as she was asked. I asked her to hold the doll up and look into the camera. She did not say anything."  -Alan
Life Skills for Basic Coping

A psychological counselor is teaching a mentally ill prisoner how to iron.

In a Life Skills class he will be shown how to open a can of soup and heat it in a microwave oven. Low functioning mentally ill prisoners are unable to care for themselves without careful training. The counselor said the men were eager to learn and were never disciplinary problems.

The larger question is why these men were not diverted from the criminal justice system into psychiatric facilities in the first place. At least the Colorado Dept. of Corrections had this program for these prisoners.