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Warden of troubled private prison quits

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The warden of the privately-run Idaho Correctional Center has quit, one month after his company acknowledged falsifying staffing records for much of 2012. Timothy Wengler, who works for Corrections Corporation of America, lasted three years as warden of the prison south of Boise. The Nashville, Tenn.-based company with the contract to run the prison through 2014 says Wengler's last day is May 31. CCA spokesman Steve Owen says Wengler had been thinking about quitting for a year and described his departure as a “personal decision.” Wengler was supposed to help repair problems at the prison. He arrived in Idaho in 2010, a replacement for a previous warden the company removed after the American Civil Liberties Union sued over claims of brutal inmate-on-inmate violence. CCA says it's mulling Wengler's replacement now.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.


Idaho warden quits after staff filed false reports
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The warden of the privately run Idaho Correctional Center has quit a month after the company acknowledged that his employees falsified thousands of hours of staffing records during much of 2012.

Timothy Wengler, who works for Corrections Corporation of America, lasted just three years as warden of the prison south of Boise. His last day will be May 31, according to the Nashville, Tenn.-based company that has a contract to run the prison.

Wengler had been thinking about resigning for a year and his departure was a personal decision, said Steve Owen, a CCA spokesman.

“The search for a replacement is underway with the goal of having a successor in place for a brief transition period before Warden Wengler's departure,” Owen said.

When he was hired, Wengler was supposed to help ease problems at the prison. He arrived in Idaho in 2010 to replace a warden the company had removed after the American Civil Liberties Union sued over claims of inmate-on-inmate violence.

The lawsuit was settled in 2011, with CCA agreeing to numerous changes in the way it runs Idaho's largest prison, which has more than 2,000 inmates.

In April, CCA acknowledged Wengler's administration had falsified close to 5,000 hours of staffing records during seven months in 2012, Idaho officials said the move obscured staffing deficiencies that violated the company's contract.

The total cost of the falsified time sheets for Idaho taxpayers hasn't been released.

Owen pledged his company would punish employees found to have falsified records. He didn't say if Wengler was reprimanded for the misrepresentations that occurred on his watch.

Owen said Wengler was retiring after 17 years at the company.

Alex Friedmann, president of the Private Corrections Institute that opposes the privatization of facilities such as the one in Idaho, said it's impossible to know if Wengler is resigning or was forced out.

“It was his responsibility to know what was going on,” Friedmann said. “Typically, what CCA does is, they shuffle their wardens. Hopefully, the new warden will be less problematic — or less incompetent.”

The company's annual $29 million contract with Idaho expires in June 2014 but could be renewed another two years.

Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said the tab for the fictional staffing remains the subject of a state investigation.

“We have not accepted any payment from” Corrections Corporation of America, Ray said, adding the state prison agency will work with the company to ensure a smooth transition between leadership at ICC.

“Warden Wengler's departure is a personnel matter that is between him and CCA,” Ray said. “It did not involve the Idaho Department of Correction.”


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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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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