Posts tagged: Idaho Department of Correction
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The ACLU of Idaho is charging that the Corrections Corp. of America is violating the terms of a settlement agreement it reached with the group in a 2010 lawsuit over prison violence at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise, the AP reports, a settlement that required staffing and safety changes at the prison. The charge comes as a new lawsuit from inmates charges that CCA has turned over control of the lockup to prison gangs to save on staffing; click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
A gang war that appears to have taken over parts of an Idaho private prison is spilling into the federal courts, reports Associated Press reporter Rebecca Boone, with some inmates contending prison officials are ceding control to gang leaders in an effort to save money. Eight inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center are suing the Corrections Corporation of America, Boone reports, contending the company is working with a few powerful prison gangs to control the facility south of Boise and spend less on staffing.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Boise's U.S. District Court, paints the prison as a place where correctional officers work in fear of angering inmate gang members and where housing supervisors ask permission from gang leaders before moving anyone new into an empty cell; click below for Boone's full report, and click here for a link to video and documents filed in the case.
Idaho has sent another 120 of its state prison inmates to a private prison in Colorado, bring the total transfered there in the past few months to 250. The moves are aimed at easing overpopulation in Idaho lockups; the latest group of inmates was transported by bus in four groups over the past two weeks. They're being housed at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, Colo., a medium-security prison owned and operated by Corrections Corp. of America, the same private prison firm that runs the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: PASADENA, Calif. (AP) ― A federal appeals court has reinstated an Idaho prison inmate's claim that a female guard groped him after he tried to break off their romantic but nonsexual relationship. The Los Angeles Times (lat.ms/Q4JoAz) says Tuesday's decision comes after a lower court ruled the touching was consensual. Three 9th Circuit Court of Appeals justices say the imbalance of power between an inmate and guard make it hard to tell consent from coercion. The justices say sexual abuse in prisons is rampant and inmates sometimes trade sexual favors for things like gum, cigarettes, more phone time and longer visits with children. Inmate Lance Conway Wood said he tried to end a relationship with guard Sandra de Martin after he became suspicious that she was married because adultery violates his religious beliefs.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The Idaho Department of Correction has flown 130 inmates to a prison in Colorado because Idaho's prison don't have enough room to hold the state's growing inmate population. The inmates were flown Tuesday morning on a chartered jet to Denver, and from there they took a bus to the Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, Colo. The prison is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Idaho's inmate population reached more than 8,000 for the first time in April. The Department of Correction has been renting beds in county jails to ease the pressure, but that wasn't enough to accommodate the demand. Department Director Brent Reinke says the move is hard on families, but the state is simply out of room.
An inmate at Idaho's Pocatello Women's Correctional Center apparently committed suicide yesterday; 51-year-old Cindy R. Jones was found hanging in a shower area at the women's prison at 4:38 p.m., and paramedics were unable to resuscitate her. It was the second suicide in two years at the women's prison; the last was in November of 2011. Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said since 2006, seven inmates have committed suicide in Idaho state prison facilities; three more Idaho state prison inmates committed suicide while being held in private prisons or county jails.
Ray said from January 2006 to June 2012, the prison system has had a far higher number of “suicide events,” defined as when prison staff place an inmate on suicide watch after the inmate threatens to kill him or herself: There were 3,909 such “events.” Said Ray, “All IDOC correctional officers undergo suicide prevention training when they join the department and receive refresher courses annually.”
The previous suicide at the women's prison came when Cheryl Ann Spellmeyer, 48, was found unconscious in her cell in 2011 with an apparent self-inflicted ligature mark around her neck; she was serving time for robbery, forgery and DUI in Twin Falls County and would have been eligible for parole less than a year after her death.
Jones was serving up to 20 years in prison for 2nd degree kidnapping, aggravated assault and illegal possession of a weapon in Ada County; she was scheduled to be released on July 22, 2018. The state prison system has asked the Idaho State Police to assist in investigating her death.
The Idaho Department of Correction has signed a contract with Corrections Corp. of America to pay the private prison firm more than $4.8 million in the current fiscal year to house Idaho inmates at a private lockup in Colorado, the Associated Press reports. With the state's prison population growing far faster than forecast, the department plans to ship 250 Idaho inmates to Colorado in August, and have a total of 450 inmates there by this time next year. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.
Idaho's state Department of Correction has selected a private prison in Colorado run by Corrections Corp. of America to take overflow Idaho inmates in the next year - and expects to have 450 Idaho inmates there by this time next year. “Idaho's inmate population is 8,099 and has grown by more than 500 inmates since the fiscal year began on July 1, 2011,” the department reported in a news release. “Idaho is managing its prisons at capacity and also houses more than 800 inmates in county jails statewide.” Click below for the department's full announcement.
Allowing witnesses to view the full process of a state execution could identify or stress the members of the execution team, Idaho prison officials argued in legal filings late Tuesday. The Associated Press and 16 other news organizations say reporters — and by extension the public — should view all phases of the execution to accurately report the events or any complications that emerge. Idaho officials spelled out their legal defense in advance of court-ordered mediation, which begins Thursday under the supervision of Magistrate Judge Candy Dale; click below for a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― A federal judge has ordered mediation between Idaho and more than a dozen news organizations challenging the state's policy limiting public access to executions. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge handed down the order Thursday, two days after The Associated Press and 16 other news organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to force officials to let witnesses view executions from start to finish. The suit contends the media and other witnesses have a First Amendment right to view all steps of lethal injection executions. Idaho Department of Correction policy blocks from view the first steps of the process, including insertion of the IV needles into the condemned inmate. Lodge's order requires the parties to enter mediation on or before June 1 under supervision of Magistrate Judge Candy Dale. You can read Judge Lodge's order here; click below for a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.