October 4, 2013 in Idaho

Corrections Corporation of America leaving Idaho

Rebecca Boone Associated Press
 

BOISE – Private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America will leave Idaho after more than a decade marked by scandal and lawsuits surrounding its operation of the state’s largest prison.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company will not bid on the next contract to run the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise, CCA Vice President Brad Regens said in a letter Thursday to the Department of Corrections.

The decision came as the Idaho State Police, aided by a forensic auditing firm, is investigating allegations of possible contract fraud and falsified staffing reports involving CCA.

A federal judge also has held CCA in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of a settlement agreement reached with inmates in a lawsuit claiming high rates of violence and chronic understaffing at the prison.

CCA spokesman Steven Owen said the company is taking appropriate steps to remedy staffing problems at the prison and is committed to reimbursing taxpayers for any unverified hours.

CCA’s contract with Idaho ends on June 30, 2014.

“We have delivered exceptional value to Idaho’s taxpayers through cost savings, and we’ve also provided outstanding rehabilitation programming to the inmates entrusted in our care,” Regens wrote in the letter.

It’s not clear, however, whether Idaho’s $29 million contract with CCA represented an actual cost savings. An investigation by the Associated Press in 2012 showed it would likely cost the Idaho Department of Corrections the same amount of money or less to have state employees run the facility.

Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke asked the state Board of Correction at least twice if his department should examine whether it would be cheaper for the state to run the prison, but both times he was rebuffed.

The Idaho Board of Correction had the option to extend CCA’s contract for two more years but decided in June against it. Instead, the state will issue a formal request for proposals later this year.

CCA has acknowledged that its employees filed staffing reports with the state that incorrectly showed it had the contractually required number of guards on duty during several months in 2012.

Owen, the company’s spokesman, said the unverified hours were only a fraction of total staffing requirements at the prison. The company has maintained that the understaffing did not result in an increase of violence or any security problems at the prison.

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