Posts tagged: idaho prisons
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.
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.
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.
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) — Idaho prison officials say they have leveled a tribal sweat lodge and reconfigured a patch of ground that has served the religious needs of Native American inmates for more than 25 years at a prison south of Boise. Idaho Department of Correction Spokesman Jeff Ray says the work done Wednesday at the South Idaho Correctional Institution was intended to address health and security concerns. The prison's Native American inmates are frustrated by the department's actions. But Ray says officials intend to rebuild the sweat lodge and maintain the parcel for tribal worship. Ray also says the prison intends to carve out a separate space on the grounds for inmates of other earth-based faiths to worship. Prisons nationwide are required by federal law to make space available for religious worship.
Idaho's prison health care contractor, Correctional Medical Services of Creve Coeur, Mo., has been fined nearly $400,000 by the state for contract violations including leaving the South Boise Women's Correctional Center without an OB/GYN for two years, and leaving the Idaho Maximum Security Institution without a staff psychologist for at least eight months, when the contract with the state required vacancies to be filled within 60 days, the Associated Press reports. Furthermore, the state renewed its contract with CMS last year. The AP uncovered the fines through a series of public records requests; click below to read the full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill has agreed to step down from the lawsuit over conditions at a violence-ridding Idaho private prison at the request of the lockup's operator, Corrections Corp. of America, the Associated Press reports. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
As the 2011 Legislature and a tough session of budget setting approach, Idaho Department of Correction director Brent Reinke is talking up his agency's successes, the AP reports. In an op-ed piece, Reinke touted his efforts to reduce recidivism. In Idaho, 62 percent of all released offenders stay out of prison for at least three years. In California, he says, 67.5 percent of all offenders are back in prison within three years. He also talked up efforts to reduce the prison population — the last two years, the number of offenders under his supervision has declined. Reinke says he fears this work could be compromised, if his workers are forced to take even more unpaid furloughs to save money. In fiscal year 2009, his general fund budget was $173.4 million. This year, it's been stripped down to $145.7 million. You can read his full article here.
Shoshone County Commissioner Jon Cantamessa was sharing his county’s moves to cope with declining revenue, from freezing employee salaries to turning off lights to re-bidding health insurance contracts to avoid big cost increases, when he added this: “I do have one thing I want to pitch to Brent Reinke as long as he’s here. … We have a jail that has probably 30 or 40 extra beds.” The state may not need them now for its prisoners, he said, but when it does, the county could use the $250,000 it could make by renting them out.
Cantamessa was one of two local officials tapped to tell the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho how local governments in the state cope with downturns.
Idaho’s state prison system, with its crimped budget, has continued to put employees on furlough this year, to the tune of 90,000 furlough hours for the fiscal year. That includes 15,000 fewer hours spent monitoring probationers and parolees in the community. State Corrections Director Brent Reinke said the department is saving $1.89 million this year because of furloughs – they’ve even helped push down the overall cost per inmate from $57.44 per day in fiscal 2009 to $52.22 per day in fiscal 2010 - but it doesn’t want to continue them next year. In fiscal year 2010, staff furloughs were equivalent to losing 35 staffers, Reinke told JFAC, at a time when the prison system also eliminated 71 permanent positions and 32 temporary ones.
Idaho’s corrections budget has dropped 19 percent since fiscal year 2009. Cost-saving moves have included everything from trimming food costs to 83 cents per meal to setting up a trio of options for short-term sentencing, with three, six- and nine-month options, and carefully shifting inmates among the lowest-cost beds that are appropriate for them. Meanwhile, Reinke said, other states are looking at releasing thousands of inmates due to budget crises, a move Idaho hasn’t considered. “Idaho’s path is different from other states,” Reinke said, focusing instead on moves to drive down the inmate population and control costs. “We want to be sure in the department that the short-term crises that we have do not lead to long-term consequences.”
But the cutbacks are taking a toll, he said, particularly on staff. Turnover has ballooned to 28 percent, which then bumps up training costs. “I need to be able to touch the minds and hearts of our staff, because I’ve already picked their pocket,” Reinke said. “It’s got to be about keeping Idaho safe.”
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press about the Idaho Correctional Center, the privately operated state prison south of Boise operated by Corrections Corp. of America that’s currently the target of a huge lawsuit over prison violence: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Traces of the E. coli bacteria have been found in the water supply at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. ICC says they’re boiling water that will be used for drinking and cooking. So far, there have been no reported illnesses among staff or inmates. No other businesses or homes are supplied with water from the same source.
Here’s a news item from The Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho leaders attended a ribbon-cutting to officially open a new $50-million drug treatment prison near Boise. Inmates will start moving into the 432-bed minimum security Correctional Alternative Placement Program in July. The prison is designed to provide offenders who would normally be sentenced to two or more years in prison with an intensive 90-day substance abuse treatment program in hopes of curbing future criminal behavior. The prison will be run by the Utah-based Management & Training Corporation, a private company based in Centerville, Utah. Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter joined Idaho Department of Correction and MTC officials for the event Tuesday.
Here’s a news item from The Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The ACLU has reached a settlement with the Idaho Department of Correction in a potentially class-action lawsuit over violence at a privately run prison near Boise. Under the agreement, the Idaho Department of Correction has agreed to “aggressively oversee compliance with any such order” a federal judge makes against private prison company Corrections Corporation of America in connection with the lawsuit. The ACLU filed the lawsuit against CCA and the state earlier this year, saying the Idaho Correctional Center is so violent that inmates refer to it as “gladiator school” and that guards deliberately expose prisoners to brutal beatings from other inmates. CCA has countered that the prison is under the constant supervision of the state and that it meets the highest professional standards in the country for correctional management.
The Boise Weekly reports today that violent assaults on inmates at Idaho’s privately-run Idaho Correctional Center increased in April and May after a drop in March, with six incidents in April and 11 in May through the 26th of the month. The Weekly obtained the information through a request under the Idaho Public Records Act. Among the incidents: On May 19, an ICC inmate with golf ball-sized lumps on his temple and the side of his head was hospitalized for emergency cranial surgery after an assault. In another, on May 24, two inmates beat another with a radio. The ICC, run by Corrections Corp. of America, is in the midst of a giant federal lawsuit over prison violence; you can read the Boise Weekly article here.
Here’s a news item from The Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The state is fining private prison company Correction Corp. of America more than $40,000 and ordering it to fix problems with drug and alcohol treatment and medical care at the Idaho Correctional Center. Ten of 13 drug and alcohol counselors at the prison near Boise aren’t qualified to provide treatment under CCA’s contract with the state, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Additionally, a medical audit done by Idaho Department of Correction officials at the prison earlier this year shows the private prison has extensive problems administering medical care, with inadequate records, delays in providing medications, immunizations and mental health care, and a lack of follow-up or oversight when inmates are returned to the lockup after being hospitalized. CCA, in a prepared statement, said that like the Idaho Department of Corrections it is concerned by the audit findings. The company also said it is working to hire qualified drug and alcohol program staffers.
Click below to read the full story from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
A major portion of an Idaho prison-conditions lawsuit that stretches back nearly three decades could be closed, as a federal judge weighs whether changing conditions and procedures at the Idaho State Correctional Institution have done away with rampant violence, near-routine brutal rapes of newly arrived young prisoners, overcrowding, limited access to psychiatric and medical care and other problems that were identified there in the early 1980s. Click below to read the full story from AP reporter Rebecca Boone. At the same time, more recent federal-court litigation involving Idaho’s first privately operated prison, the Idaho Correctional Center, which is run by the Corrections Corp. of America, include allegations of brutal inmate-on-inmate violence ignored by guards, denial of medical care and more; that case still is pending.
A federal judge has ruled that a class-action lawsuit over violence at Idaho’s privately-operated state prison, the Idaho Correctional Center, can proceed, after the prison’s operator, Corrections Corp. of America, tried to stop the case from expanding beyond the first named victim. U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill ruled that amending the case to include other inmates was a more efficient way to deal with the claims rather than bringing 24 or more individual lawsuits; click below to read the full story from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
Idaho’s maximum security prison marked its 20th anniversary on Thursday, with two of its units sitting vacant. It’s not that Idaho doesn’t have enough prisoners — it’s short on money. Inmates have been shifted to the cheapest beds available, like those down the road at the privately operated Idaho Correctional Center, where many of the inmates are housed dorm-style in huge rooms with rows of bunk beds and open toilets. Idaho’s state Department of Correction was able to eliminate 16 positions because it closed 72 beds at the Maximum Security Institution, called the Max, and a similar number of beds at the state-run Southern Idaho Correctional Institution. The private ICC opened a 628-bed addition. But the state is now managing 500 more offenders than it did a year ago, with $28 million less in funding.
At the Max, prisoners today are more violent, and more likely to be involved with gangs - and that’s driven a move toward more segregation cells, which, of course, are more costly to operate. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and click here to see a slide show from the Max today.
Idaho’s state Department of Correction says it’s brought back 188 inmates who were being housed in a private prison in Oklahoma, and that completes the job - Idaho now has no more inmates housed out of state due to overcrowding. It’s been four years since the state could say that. “This is a milestone for the department and something the people of Idaho can truly celebrate,” said Brent Reinke, state corrections director. “We’re saving taxpayer dollars, and in the long run, making our communities safer.” Click below to read the department’s full announcement.
Idaho’s Department of Correction says it’s now brought back another 68 inmates who had been housed out of state, in Sayre, Okla., bringing the state down to 120 out-of-state inmates, all of whom are now scheduled to be returned to Idaho by the end of the summer. The reason: Idaho’s prison population has actually dropped, which the department called “unprecedented.” At the start of the fiscal year, July 1, 2008, Idaho had 7,338 people incarcerated. Today, that figure is 7,270. State Corrections Director Brent Reinke said the decline comes because of “better coordination between the department and its criminal justice partners.” That means everything from more substance abuse treatment and more use of sanctions that serve as alternatives to prison time, to improvements in getting inmates the programming they need to qualify for parole by the time they reach their eligibility dates. “The return of these inmates is a reflection of how Idaho’s criminal justice system is working as a system,” Reinke said.
Also, additional prison space is being brought on line, including 628 new beds at the privately operated but state-owned Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.