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Posts tagged: Idaho Department of Correction

Longtime state prisons employee Kevin Kempf named new Corrections director


Kevin Kempf, a 19-year employee of the Idaho Department of Correction, was named the department's new director today by the state Board of Corrections. Kempf most recently was deputy director; he's worked as a prison guard, parole officer, investigator, warden and more. He replaces Brent Reinke, who unexpectedly resigned Nov. 25 after eight years in the post.

Robin Sandy, board chair, said, “Kevin’s extensive experience in corrections makes him uniquely qualified to serve as director. As he has risen through the ranks, his focus has remained on the front lines where correctional staff has the difficult and often dangerous job of managing felony offenders.” Kempf said, “My absolute top priority is the safety of the people of the state of Idaho. “I look forward to working with the board to assure that offenders are held accountable while offering the tools they need to those who are ready to change and become law-abiding citizens.”

Kempf's selection was announced after a special meeting of the board today. Click below for the board's full announcement.

Otter on Reinke resignation: ‘It’s a tough job; Brent has my thanks’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has issued this statement on the resignation of state Corrections Director Brent Reinke:

“I have appreciated Director Reinke’s effort, enthusiasm and empathy throughout my tenure as Governor. It’s a tough job, and nobody in Idaho history has done it longer. Brent has my thanks for his hard work and commitment. I wish him the best in all his future endeavors.”

Reinke took over the Department of Correction in January of 2007, after serving 10 years as the state's director of juvenile corrections; prior to that, he was a Twin Falls County commissioner and business owner.

Reinke resignation letter: ‘It’s time for me to serve in a different way’

Idaho state Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke, in his resignation letter submitted to the Board of Correction today, wrote, “For the past 18 years I have enjoyed the privilege of serving the state of Idaho, first at the Department of Juvenile Corrections and for the past eight years at the Department of Correction. Today, I submit my resignation to the Board of Correction. It's been an incredible run, but it's time for me to serve in a different way.”

Reinke said, “We have truly made a difference for public safety in Idaho these past eight years. The work is not done, but we have a great start.” He thanked and praised the Corrections staff, and signed off with, “As always, I think you for your dedicated service. Remember, 'Safety First!'” You can read his full letter here.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi.

Idaho state prisons chief submits resignation

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke is stepping down from his post after leading the department since 2007. His tenure included overseeing the fallout of a private-prison scandal, handling the first two executions since 1994 and enhancing the department's contract oversight. Reinke submitted his resignation Tuesday during a special Idaho Board of Corrections meeting. However, department spokesman Jeff Ray says the board declined to accept his resignation, but will meet sometime next week to finalize Reinke's resignation. Reinke's resignation comes after a 2013 private-prison scandal involving Corrections Corporation of America wrongly telling the state that guards were working shifts that were actually left vacant. The company has since pulled out of Idaho, but the FBI is looking into the situation for possible criminal fraud charges.

Click below for a news release from the Department of Correction.

Idaho Death Row inmate, 41, dies after long illness

An inmate on Idaho’s Death Row died today after an extended illness, the state Department of Correction announced; Michael Allen Jauhola had been on Death Row at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution (The Max) since 2001, and had been transferred to the prison’s medical unit in May. Jauhola, 41, received his death sentence for beating another inmate to death with a baseball bat in a racially motivated attack in the exercise yard of the Max; at the time, Jauhola was serving time for voluntary manslaughter and escape. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Corrections official Teresa Jones said an autopsy will be performed to verify the cause of death, following “standard procedure.”

Idaho prisons chief takes leave, grandson charged with murder

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The head of Idaho's Department of Correction is taking a leave of absence as his grandson faces a murder charge in southern Idaho. Brent Reinke has led the department since 2007. Department spokesman Jeff Ray said in a prepared statement that Reinke is taking two weeks' leave, effective immediately, to address his grandson's criminal prosecution. Twenty-three-year-old Bradley Frank James is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting and stabbing death of 58-year-old Larry R. Miller in Filer. Prosecutors say Miller was shot in the face and stabbed 25 times. James' attorney has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Board of Correction Chairwoman Robin Sandy said the board respects Reinke's wish to support his family as they deal with a tragic and personal matter.

Parole absconder nabbed while doing laundry in long, black wig, armed with knife

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Correction says a convicted forger who absconded from parole in north-central Idaho was arrested while doing laundry at a Moscow-area laundromat. Corrections officials say 25-year-old Stephen Andrew Edgeman of Moscow was wearing a long, black wig and carrying a knife when he was arrested by Moscow police on Wednesday evening. Edgeman's criminal record includes grand theft and forgery convictions in Latah and Kootenai counties. He was released from prison under supervision and declared a fugitive on Sept. 18 after failing to check in with his parole officer. The agency made the search for him a priority after he reportedly made credible threats to kill law enforcement officers. He now faces revocation of his release on parole.

Corrections board renews prison medical contract with Corizon

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Board of Correction has awarded Corizon another contract to provide medical care to the state's prison inmates. The Department of Correction and Corizon have had a rocky relationship in the past. The state has been under pressure from a decades-old lawsuit to improve medical care for prisoners, and a court-appointed expert concluded more than a year ago that Corizon's medical care at one prison was exceedingly poor. Corizon countered that it was meeting national prison standards. Four companies submitted bids, and the proposals were scored based on technical details and overall cost. Corizon had the highest overall score, though it was also the most expensive proposal at nearly $41 million a year. The other companies — Centurion, CHC, Corizon and Naphcare — have about a week to appeal.

Condemned killer sues state over lack of baloney sandwich lunches on weekends

Condemned double murderer Timonthy Dunlap is suing Idaho state prison officials, contending that the elimination of baloney sandwich lunches on weekends in 2011 constitutes “cruel and unusual” treatment, and that he's lost weight and suffered a heart attack due to low sodium since the change, the Idaho State Journal reports. In documents filed in court, Dunlap offered a solution: “Return to when lunches were served with bologna sandwiches on Saturday and Sunday,” the newspaper reported.

Idaho inmates get three meals a day except weekends, when they get a larger breakfast and dinner and a piece of fruit at lunch time. State officials said both the weekday and weekend menus meet the daily caloric requirements for inmates. You can read the State Journal's full report here, or click below for an AP version of the story.

Idaho agrees to keep court records related to prison medical care secret

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Correction and attorneys representing inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution have quietly reached an agreement that could permanently hide from public view records connected to the medical care provided at the prison. The protective order was approved by a federal judge Friday in a 32-year-old lawsuit over substandard care and other problems at ISCI. The order allows the state to designate any record confidential if officials think the designation is needed to protect trade secrets, medical privacy, the security of the prison or if the release would be “unduly detrimental” to the interests of third parties. IDOC attorney Mark Kubinski says the intent is to protect records that would already be protected under Idaho's public records law, not to shield the documents from public view.

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

Idaho inmate suicide reported; third such hanging in a year and a half

The Idaho Department of Correction reports that a 34-year-old inmate apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell at the Idaho State Correctional Institution over the weekend. Brandon Munk was found hanging in his cell Saturday at 6:12 p.m.; emergency responders were able to restore his pulse, and he was taken to St. Alphonsus Medical Center, but he died there early Sunday afternoon. Munk was serving a two- to five-year sentence for forgery in Bannock County; he was scheduled to be released in July of 2014. The department has asked the Ada County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in investigating the death.

It was the first suicide reported at an Idaho state prison this year; last year, there were two, one at ISCI and one at the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center, and both also by hanging.

Judges fear IDOC using probation to manage budget

Idaho judges are raising concerns that the state Department of Correction is pressing to inappropriately release some offenders on probation to ease a swelling prison population, the Idaho Statesman newspaper reported Sunday in a front-page article by reporter Dan Popkey. At issue is the state's “rider” program, in which judges can retain jurisdiction over offenders while they undergo an intensive program for 90 to 180 days, after which the judge can decide whether to release them on probation, or release jurisdiction and send them to prison for their full sentences, based on how they fare in the program. Fourth District Judge Mike Wetherell is raising the alarm, as is 4th District Judge Cheri Copsey. In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate judiciary committees and IDOC chief Brent Reinke, Wetherell wrote, “I believe the problem could in the future, if it has not already, create serious public sfety concerns.”

Wetherell noted a case in which an IDOC employee recommended probation for a sex offender, telling the court, “We're out of space in the prison and they want us to be very judicious in who we recommend,” Popkey reported. Two weeks after Wetherell sent that offender back to prison, Copsey rejected a probation recommendation from another offender and attached the 82-page transcript of Wetherell's earlier sentencing hearing. Wetherell said in the hearing that he objected to “a system in which pressure is placed upon employees,” and said, “It is their obligation to say we would like to recommend incarceration in this case, but budgetary constraints prohibit us from doing so. That's called honesty.”

You can read Popkey's full report here; click below for a shorter version of the story via the Associated Press. IDOC denies that it's pressuring employees to release offenders on probation who shouldn't be released, and said the employees must have misunderstood. In a sidebar, Popkey reports that another Idaho judge is raising concerns that IDOC's medical services contractor is skimping on prescription medications for inmates in the rider program, causing them psychological and medical problems that then lead to them failing the rider and being sent to prison for their full terms.

Security tightened at Idaho prisons HQ after Colorado shooting

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho's prisons chief says steps have been taken to bolster security at the agency's headquarters in Boise after the fatal shooting in March of Colorado's prisons director. Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke said Thursday that armed security guards have been moved to the first floor of the agency's main office building. Reinke also informed the Board of Correction that more mirrored windows have been installed throughout the office to better monitor traffic. Reinke says the agency is trying to be more vigilant, aware of surroundings and not taking safety for granted. In March, Colorado's corrections chief Tom Clements was gunned down at his home near Denver. Colorado authorities believe the shooter was a former inmate released early because of a clerical error.

Idaho, prison medical firm at odds over contract

Idaho's prison system will increase payments to its medical provider by hundreds of thousands of dollars after the company demanded a raise, the AP reports, but will only extend its $27 million annual contract with Corizon Correctional Healthcare until January, not another 12 months as previously announced. The state Board of Correction voted Thursday to seek competitive bids for a new contract; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Idaho prison bursting with quilt batting; says thanks but please don’t donate more

Overwhelming response to a call for donations to an inmate quilting project has left the Idaho Department of Correction out of storage space and unable to accept new donations of quilting material. “Idaho’s quilters are generous and eager to share their passion for quilting,” says Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke. “We never imagined we’d get buried like this.” The prisons have received more than four pickup truck loads of quilting material. “We are truly grateful for all the help, but we just don’t have a place to store more material,” Reinke said. Click below for the department's full announcement.

CCA admits falsifying prison guard staff hours at ICC Idaho lockup

The Corrections Corp. of America, the for-profit private prison firm that operates the Idaho Correctional Center state prison south of Boise, has acknowledged falsifying prison staffing records last year, violating its contract with the state and overcharging the state for nearly 4,800 staff hours during a seven-month period, telling the state correctional officers were staffing security positions at ICC during those hours, when in fact those posts were vacant. Click below for the Idaho Department of Correction's full news release. CCA also issued its own news release; you can read it here.

Judge: State senator’s wife overstepped role as legal assistant in murderer’s lawsuit against state

A federal judge has ruled that a state senator's wife overstepped her role as a legal assistant and had an “inappropriate” relationship with a convicted murderer who is suing the Idaho Department of Correction for sexual harassment. In November, Renee McKenzie, wife of Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie of Nampa, was appointed by a federal court to help Lance Wood, who was imprisoned for life for his role in the 1988 kidnapping and torture slaying of a gay man in Utah. She was an adviser, not an attorney, and prison officials decided in February she was overstepping the bounds of that relationship. They had intercepted a letter the inmate wrote to McKenzie, which they determined was “clearly of a personal nature.” Investigators then discovered the two had unmonitored phone conversations lasting 91 hours between December and February. On Feb. 7, they barred McKenzie from visiting Wood; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Board of Correction votes for one-year extension of Corizon medical contract

Idaho's state Board of Correction has voted to extend its contract with Corizon, the troubled firm now providing medical care to the state's prison inmates, for another year, pushing back consideration of alternative providers until January of 2014, the AP reports. Corizon's troubles in Idaho have included fines of more than $200,000 from the Department of Correction for failure to meet basic contract requirements; an expert appointed by the federal courts found last year that Corizon's medical care was so poor that it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

AP Newsbreak: Idaho investigates staffing anomalies at private prison

The Idaho State Police has launched an investigation into staffing levels at the state's largest private prison after state officials said they found discrepancies in the prison's monthly reports, reports Associated Press reporter Rebecca Boone. The Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise is run by Corrections Corp. of America, which has held the contract for a decade; both the contract and a legal settlement set minimum staffing requirements. Boone reports that Correction Director Brent Reinke told the Idaho Board of Correction this morning that he asked the state police to investigate because the department found “potential anomalies” during an audit; an AP analysis of the prison's records showed some guards apparently working 48 hours straight; double-posting, where one guard is shown as working two different posts at the same time; and vacant security posts.

Click below for Boone's full report.

Former worker sues Idaho Corrections, charges gender discrimination

A former Idaho probation and parole employee is suing the state Department of Correction, charging gender discrminiation and creation of a hostile work environment after her brief relationship with a co-worker turned violent, the AP reports. The lawsuit was filed this week in U.S. District Court; click below for a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.

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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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