Gov. Butch Otter just announced that he’s ordering the state Board of Correction to halt its ongoing effort to get new bids from private firms to run the privately operated state prison, the Idaho Correctional Center, south of Boise, and instead move to have the state take over operating the scandal-plagued lockup. “It’s disappointing, and it’s disappointing because I am a champion of privatization,” Otter told reporters at the AP Legislative Preview. “It’s disappointing, but I think it also recognizes what has been happening, what has happened - it’s necessary. I think it’s the right thing to do. Is it the desirable thing to do for me? Not necessarily, because we had better hopes for outcomes in privatization.”
Otter said the state will move to take over operations at the ICC by June 30.
The Corrections Corp. of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator, already had announced that it would leave Idaho and not bid on another contract to run the ICC; the second-largest firm, GEO Group, also said it wasn’t interested. The ICC has had multiple lawsuits over inmate violence and was nicknamed the “Gladiator School;” CCA also was found to be understaffing the prison.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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