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Sixteen Dem lawmakers urge prisons board to let state run ICC, guv’s aide delivers message

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Democratic lawmakers are urging the Board of Correction to put Idaho's largest prison back under state control instead of contracting with another private prison operator. The letter signed by 16 of the Legislature's 20 Democrats was delivered Tuesday by an unexpected messenger: Republican Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter's spokesman, Mark Warbis. Warbis said there was no “hidden message” to Otter's decision to deliver the Democrats' message to the board. Instead, he said Democratic leaders approached the governor last week after they learned Otter was open to all options for running the Idaho Correctional Center. Corrections Corporation of America operates the prison for $29 million a year. The Idaho State Police is investigating CCA for possible contract fraud, and CCA has admitted understaffing ICC in violation of a federal court order.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.


Dems to Idaho Prisons Board: Let state run ICC
By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Democratic lawmakers are urging the Board of Correction to put Idaho's largest prison back under state control instead of contracting with another private prison operator.

The letter signed by 16 of the Legislature's 20 Democrats was delivered Tuesday by an unexpected messenger: Republican Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter's spokesman, Mark Warbis.

Warbis said there was no “hidden message” to Otter's decision to deliver the Democrats' message to the board. Instead, he said Democratic leaders approached the governor last week after they learned Otter was open to all options for running the Idaho Correctional Center.

The prison south of Boise is the state's largest, and it's operated by the Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America under a $29 million annual contract. However, the Idaho State Police is investigating CCA for possible contract fraud, and the company has admitted understaffing the facility in violation of a federal court order and the state's contract. CCA has said it doesn't intend to bid on a new contract to run the facility when the current contract expires next June.

“In light of the events of the last few years, we encourage you to reconsider your policy that does not allow the Corrections Department to submit a proposal for management of the privately managed State owned prison in Boise,” the Democrats wrote in the letter to the board. “We believe the private prison experiment in Idaho has failed. The recent decision by the largest private prison management company in the United States to refrain from bidding on the new contract means the field of bidders is limited. It also indicates to us that private management of the prison may not be feasible.”

Board Chairwoman Robin Sandy asked Warbis if the governor had any thoughts to add.

“I think it speaks for itself,” Warbis said. He said that the governor, the members of the Democratic caucus and other lawmakers are mindful of the board's authority in considering policy matters like prison privatization.


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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