Posts tagged: 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.
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.
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.
The New York Times reports today that new research in Arizona and elsewhere shows private prisons don't save states money - they actually cost more. That's in part because the private lockups “cherry pick” the healthiest, least expensive inmates to house, leaving states to deal with the more costly portions of their prison population. “There’s a perception that the private sector is always going to do it more efficiently and less costly,” Russ Van Vleet, a former co-director of the University of Utah Criminal Justice Center, told Times reporter Richard A. Oppel Jr. “But there really isn’t much out there that says that’s correct.” You can real Oppel's full story here.
Brent Reinke, Idaho state prisons chief, as he opened his presentation to the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho today, said Idahoans may be wondering, “What about this violence story? What’s happening here?” He said he’d be glad to speak with any legislator who’s been contacted by constituents with concerns about family members housed at the Idaho Correctional Center, the privately operated state prison south of Boise, where a brutal inmate-on-inmate attack - while guards watched - was shown in a video released by the Associated Press yesterday.
Reinke said he “won’t go into detail today to explain to you all” the issues about the private prison. But, he said, “I’m very confident and very comfortable with our new warden in that facility, and things are progressing. We are doing a much better job of monitoring than we have in the past; we have a new contract.” He added, “In the Department of Corrections, 80 percent of our problems are bought forth by 20 percent of our population. We do have gangs, and they are a problem.”
Associated Press reporter Rebecca Boone reports that the FBI is investigating Idaho’s private-run state prison. Here’s her report: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson says the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into allegations of criminal conduct among the staff at Idaho’s only private prison. The inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation is focused on the conduct by prison staff at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. The lockup is run by Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator. Olson told the Associated Press Tuesday the investigation is focused on whether prison staff violated the civil rights of inmates at the prison. She said the investigation covers multiple assaults between inmates, including one attack on former inmate Hanni Elabed. His January 2010 assault left him with brain damage and prompted his medical release from prison. Click below to read Boone’s full story.
Idaho’s privately operated prison south of Boise, the Idaho Correctional Center, has confirmed that inmates there have contracted the Norovirus, after a flurry of stomach flu was reported there. The facility has been washed down with bleach and inmates are on lockdown; click below to read the full press release from Corrections Corporation of America, the company that runs the prison.