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Posts tagged: Idaho Correctional Center

Nation’s two largest private prison firms both say ‘no thanks’ to bidding on ICC contract

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The two biggest private prison companies in the nation say they don't want the contract to run a troubled Idaho prison, and that could shrink the pool of potential bidders to just two smaller companies. GEO Group sent a letter to Idaho Department of Correction officials last month to say thanks but no thanks to the chance to bid on a contract to run the Idaho Correctional Center. Corrections Corporation of America, which currently operates the facility, has also said it won't seek a new contract when its current $29-million-a-year deal with the state expires next summer. That leaves two smaller companies in the pool of likely bidders: The Centerville, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., and Community Education Centers, which is based in West Caldwell, New Jersey.

No fed charges against ICC guards, after three-year investigation

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — After a three-year investigation into allegations of possible criminal civil rights violations at Idaho's largest private prison, the U.S. Department of Justice is declining to prosecute any current or former guards with Corrections Corporation of America. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson made the announcement Monday, saying the FBI's investigation into inmate-on-inmate assaults at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise was detailed and covered multiple incidences. Olson says that while the assaults at the prison have been problematic, prosecutors didn't believe they would be able to prove elements of a federal crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Under federal criminal civil rights law, prison guards commit a crime if they willfully fail to stop an assault or are deliberately indifferent to an inmate who is in need of medical care.

You can read the Justice Department's full announcement here. It says the investigation included an assault, captured on videotape, of inmate Hanni Elabed on January 18, 2010, in which Elabed was severely beaten by another inmate while guards watched but didn't intervene. U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson said in the statement that various civil lawsuits brought by inmates against the CCA are “a more appropriate vehicle for addressing the assaults that the investigation examined.” Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

State prison agency knew for years about CCA staffing deficiencies

Administrators and staff at Idaho's state Department of Corrections have known since at least 2010 about staffing deficiencies by private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of America at an Idaho state prison, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press - and that the deficiencies violated CCA's contract with the state. The new details about the state's oversight of CCA come as Idaho State Police investigators are looking into allegations that the nation's largest private prison company defrauded taxpayers by filing reports that showed vacant positions were fully staffed. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

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.

Otter now says he’s open to considering possible state takeover of troubled private prison

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter now says he’s open to ideas from legislative leaders and others on whether the state should take over running its troubled private prison, or whether a new private operator should be sought.             “I’m going to listen to other people,” Otter said. “I’m not foreclosing that discussion.”

Corrections Corp. of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator, announced last week that it will leave Idaho, and won’t submit a new bid to operate the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise when its contract ends next summer. The state Department of Correction is developing a request for proposals for a new private operator.

“I am confident that I am not the source of all great wisdom,” Otter said. He said he wants to “hear all the ideas from JFAC and all the ideas from leadership, as to what we ought to do.” JFAC is the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which sets the state budget; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Private prison firm CCA leaving Idaho

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Private prison giant Corrections Corp. of America says it will leave Idaho after more than a decade. The decision comes after the company wrestled with scandal and lawsuits surrounding its operation of the state's largest prison. CCA Vice President Brad Regens notified state officials on Wednesday that the Nashville, Tenn.-based company won't bid on the next contract to run the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. The Idaho State Police, aided by a forensic auditing firm, is currently investigating the company's operations in Idaho over allegations of possible contract fraud and falsified staffing reports. CCA spokesman Steven Owen says the company is taking appropriate steps to remedy staffing problems, and the company is committed to making up for any unverified work hours.

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

Judge says CCA persistently understaffed privately run Idaho prison

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge says private prison company Corrections Corporation of America is in contempt of court for persistently understaffing an Idaho prison in direct violation of a legal settlement. U.S. District Judge David Carter made the ruling Monday in a lawsuit between inmates at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center and the Nashville, Tenn.-based company. Carter wrote that CCA had ample reason to make sure it was meeting the staffing requirements at the prison, yet the level of understaffing was apparently far worse than the company originally acknowledged. He is appointing an independent monitor to oversee operations at the prison, and says steep fines will follow if the company violates the agreement again. The fines will start at $100 an hour if more than 12 hours are understaffed in a single month.

“It is clear that there was a persistent failure to fill required mandatory positions, along with a pattern of CCA staff falsifying rosters to make it appear that all posts were filled,” the judge wrote. Those deficiencies continued even in the weeks leading up to hearings in August on whether the company should be found in contempt for violating a court settlement agreement, he wrote; you can read his decision here.

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

Judge scolds attorneys in prison lawsuit

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge is scolding attorneys in a lawsuit alleging understaffing and mismanagement at a private Idaho prison, warning both sides that they need to play nice or risk losing their case. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge wrote in an order Wednesday that attorneys for private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America and attorneys representing a group of inmates at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center have refused to interact with each other reasonably and civilly. Lodge says he considered lots of ways to make them get along, but decided against ordering the attorneys to play a game of “rock, paper, scissors.” Instead, Lodge is sending them to mediation, where they must try to resolve all their pending disputes over what evidence they must share and other pretrial issues.

Bill would require Idaho to compare state, private prison costs

After Idaho’s state Board of Correction refused to consider state operation as it seeks a new operator for a troubled privately run prison south of Boise, a state lawmaker has drafted legislation requiring all state agencies to consider that option when they solicit bids. Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said he’s not convinced the state is saving any money by paying Corrections Corp. of America $30 million a year to operate the Idaho Correctional Center. “There is a view that private contractors can perform functions less expensively, but I think sometimes they can’t,” he said. Gannon is now circulating his proposed bill, trying to get discussion going among lawmakers.

In late June, the state Board of Correction voted to seek new bids to operate the Idaho Correctional Center starting next year, but rejected the idea of considering state operation as well. Board Chairwoman Robin Sandy said at the time that state operation would grow Idaho’s government, which she opposed. “There would be several hundred more state employees,” she said. Five years ago, the state Department of Correction sought permission from Gov. Butch Otter and the board to submit its own bid for comparison, but the board refused, and Otter deferred to the board.

His spokesman, Jon Hanian, said Wednesday that Otter’s position hasn’t changed. “The governor doesn’t seek to micromanage his agencies,” Hanian said.

Gannon drafted his bill after reviewing pay figures from other states showing that Idaho’s wages for prison guards far below those in most states; he said that shows that private prison companies can operate more cheaply in some states – but not in Idaho. House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, was non-committal Wednesday on the idea of legislation, but said, “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to bid it, to get a price from either side. … You would think that would be just a good practice.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Newly unsealed CCA documents say staffing logs falsified for years

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Several documents have been unsealed in a contempt of court case against private prison company Corrections Corporation of America that provide some detail to inmate allegations that CCA understaffed an Idaho prison in violation of a court order and a state contract. CCA has acknowledged that its employees filed reports with the state that falsely showed 4,800 hours of vacant security posts as being staffed during 2012. The company says it has taken steps to fix the problems and it will reimburse taxpayers. But inmates at the facility and the American Civil Liberties Union say that number grossly underestimates the understaffing, and that problems continue today. In one of the affidavits, CCA employee Susan Fry says it's been the practice to falsify staffing logs at the Idaho prison for years.

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

Fight at Idaho’s private prison sends inmate to the hospital

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prison officials say one inmate and a guard suffered injuries during a fight between inmates at the state's private prison. Corrections Corporation of America officials say the fight broke out Friday night at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. CCA officials say the fight didn't last long and was broken up by prison staff. The prison was immediately placed on lockdown. The company did not provide any details of the injury to the inmate who was taken to a Boise hospital for treatment. The guard was treated and released. The Ada County Sheriff's Office is conducting a criminal investigation into the fight.

Inmates: CCA falsifying staff logs to hide chronic understaffing

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Attorneys for inmates at Idaho's largest private prison say Corrections Corporation of America is falsifying staff logs to hide chronic understaffing. The allegation was raised Friday in an amended federal lawsuit. Attorneys for CCA have not yet responded, and a CCA spokesman didn't immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press. Officials with the Idaho Department Correction also didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. CCA operates the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise for the state, and the company was required to increase staffing as part of a settlement ending a different lawsuit in 2011. In the new lawsuit, inmates claim CCA is secretly violating its state contract by listing employees on staff shift logs even if they didn't work that day or only worked a half-hour.

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

CCA wants lawsuit dismissed that charges it uses inmate gangs to help run Idaho prison

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Attorneys for the nation's largest private prison company have asked a federal judge in Idaho to throw out a lawsuit from inmates who say the company uses gangs to run a Boise-area prison. Attorneys for Corrections Corporation of America said in the motion filed Monday that a lawsuit brought by eight inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center fails to meet legal standards and should be tossed out of court. The inmates sued in November, contending the company is working with a few powerful prison gangs to control the facility south of Boise. The inmates say that CCA is able to save money on staffing by essentially allowing the gangs to run the prison, and that as a result some inmates are forced to join gangs or risk being attacked.

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

State fights release of prison report, cites ‘unjustified scandal’

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State prison officials say a report on health care and other conditions at an Idaho prison is so inflammatory that it must remain sealed. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill appointed a correctional health care expert to see if Idaho is complying with a ruling in a long -running lawsuit brought by inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. Marc Stern's report was filed under seal last month, and the judge ordered attorneys on both sides to review the document to see if any information should be redacted to protect health privacy concerns. Though they agreed no such redactions were needed, the state says the report should be sealed anyway because the public could mistakenly believe it amounted to the opinion of the court, leading to an “unjustified public scandal.”

Video shows brutal attack on inmate at private Idaho prison while guards watch

There’s a really stunning video story out from the Associated Press about Idaho’s privately operated prison, the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise, where surveillance videos show an inmate being brutally attacked by another inmate while guards do nothing to stop the attack, even when the attacker stops and sits in a chair to rest, then gets up and resumes the kicking and beating. The victim suffered brain damage and won a medical release from prison. Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the prison for the state, incredibly had this response: That it was wrong of the AP to release the video. “Public release of the video poses an unnecessary security risk to our staff, the inmates entrusted to our care, and ultimately to the public,” CCA said in a statement. You can watch the story below.

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About this blog

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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