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Eye On Boise

Reinke to lawmakers: CCA agreement will ‘make taxpayers whole’

Idaho Corrections Director Brent Reinke told legislative budget writers this morning that the agreement released late yesterday, under which the Corrections Corp. of America will pay the state $1 million to settle understaffing issues at the troubled Idaho Correctional Center, will “reasonably cover the state’s costs relating to these staffing matters.” He said, “The agreement also fulfills CCA’s commitment to make taxpayers whole on this issue.” In addition to the $1 million payment, the agreement calls for the state to withhold $350,000 in inflationary increases CCA otherwise would have received under its existing contract to operate the now-privately run Idaho Correctional Center, a state prison south of Boise.

The Department of Correction is moving forward with plans for state takeover of the ICC by July 1, Reinke said. A supplemental appropriation to cover nearly $2 million in transition costs has passed both houses and is headed for the governor’s desk.

“It’s important that we conduct a seamless transition to manage the Idaho Correctional Center while maintaining the integrity of our entire system,” Reinke said, noting that with 2,060 beds, the ICC represents 25 percent of the state prison system’s capacity.

Deputy Director Kevin Kempf, in response to questions from the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, said, “I think if I would have to assess the mood of the inmates right now ,there’s probably some concern. … Inmates don’t do well with change.” He said, “We want to keep things the way they are right now… and go about things in a very slow and steady manner.”

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has a full morning of budget hearings on corrections this morning; you can listen live here by clicking on “JFAC.” Among budget issues at the department: Reinke said last year, one in four corrections officers left the department, and this year looks to be headed toward comparable turnover of 25 percent. “Pay is the most common reason departing staff give us for leaving our agency,” he said.

So far this year, Reinke said, the prison population is down slightly, while the probation and parole population is up. The governor has recommended a 9.2 percent increase in state funding for corrections next year.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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