May 25, 2013 in City

Idaho prison wants inmate lawsuit sealed

Falsified staff levels led to gang attack, claim says
Rebecca Boone Associated Press
 

BOISE – The nation’s largest private prison company is asking a judge to seal a wide spectrum of documents in a lawsuit brought by inmates at a Corrections Corporation of America-managed prison in Idaho.

Attorneys for CCA filed the motion for a protective order earlier this month in Boise’s U.S. District Court in a lawsuit brought by eight inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center late last year. The inmates claimed they were jumped by members of a prison gang, beaten and stabbed, and that the attack occurred because CCA was understaffed and prison managers had ceded too much power to the inmate gangs.

Attorneys for CCA say in the motion that the case involves information that must be kept secret to maintain the security of the prison and the safety of inmates and correctional officers. CCA says the seal should include items related to CCA policies and procedures, personal identifying information of employees, inmates’ criminal and medical information, and any information connected to its investigation of the attack.

CCA had come under fire for its staffing levels at the Idaho Correctional Center by the state, which launched an investigation into falsified staffing records after an Associated Press investigation showed that the company was claiming some employees were working as many as 48 hours in a row in order to meet minimum staffing requirements.

CCA officials acknowledged last month that the company falsified nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records over seven months last year in violation of its contract with the state.

CCA’s annual $29 million contract with Idaho expires in June 2014 but will be automatically extended for another two years unless the state decides to seek bids and select a new provider before next summer.

Former CCA Warden Timothy Wengler wrote in an affidavit that he knew of instances in which inmates obtained personal information about correctional officers and used it to intimidate prison staffers, and that he feared the same could happen at the Idaho prison if the employees’ identifying information is revealed. Wengler also said in the affidavit that some of the company’s policies cover sensitive information like how the perimeter of the prison is secured, what parts of the prison are covered by security cameras and prison emergency procedures.

Attorneys for the inmates have not filed a formal response to CCA’s motion.

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