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Darrington: Enough with private prisons

Senate Judiciary Chairman Denton Darrington, R-Declo, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations committee this morning, “I think there is a limit to how far we ought to go with our prison beds being in private hands.” Even big prison states like Texas are at about 35 percent private, Darrington said. “We’re in the 40s, and it’s going to creep up a little.”  He warned, “If our prison population gets too high of a number in private hands, there are ways in which we will have less control over our own system, I have no doubt. So I would say that we’re about as far as we ought to go, on percent of our inmates in private hands. I have no problem with what we’ve done, but we’d better have a word of caution.”

His comments came as the state Department of Corrections is looking into whether it could save money by privatizing the state prison in Orofino, a concept that’s raised big concerns in that community, where the prison is a major employer. JFAC is in the midst of hearing from the chairs of various legislative committees on their budget recommendations, to prepare for setting state budgets – though the actual budget-setting now has been delayed, while the state studies the impact of federal economic stimulus funds. JFAC’s Web site, which normally lists the budget-setting schedule, now says only, “The Budget Setting Schedule has been delayed indefinitely.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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