October 21, 2009 in Idaho

Idaho prison makes changes following escapes

Associated Press
 

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho — Changes have been made at the North Idaho Correctional Institution in the wake of five prisoner escapes this year, the warden says.

Lynn Guyer said razor wire has been added to a 10-foot-high chain-link fence, some staff changes have been made, and a faulty automated telephone system has been replaced with a person.

Sill, Guyer said escapes remain a possibility, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

“If an offender has a true desire to go over the fence, they will go over the fence,” Guyer said at a meeting to discuss the prison.

Brent Reinke, director of the Idaho Department of Corrections, also took part in the meeting.

About 1,300 offenders go through the minimum security prison each year. Guyer said that 85 to 90 percent of the inmates receive favorable reviews to be released on probation. He said of those, 67 percent complete probation, a rate that is among the best in the nation.

At the prison, inmates can take part in a number of programs, including sex offender treatment, substance abuse counseling, and work force development and education.

“One of the unique things about NICI is the hope that’s there,” Reinke said.

He said the department is also working with Idaho Health and Welfare officials to identify children of inmates and help them avoid ending up in prison. He said those children are seven times more likely to end up in the justice system than other children.

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