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Inmates claim private prison falsifies staffing levels

BOISE (AP) — Attorneys for inmates at Idaho's largest private prison say Corrections Corporation of America is falsifying staff logs to hide chronic understaffing.

The allegation was raised Friday in an amended lawsuit filed in Boise's U.S. District Court.

Attorneys for the Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA have not yet responded to the amended lawsuit in court, and CCA spokesman Steve Owen said he couldn't discuss details of the litigation.

But Owen said the company's top priority was the safety of its staff, inmates and the communities it serves, and CCA is committed to providing Idaho's taxpayers with the highest quality corrections services.

“We have worked in close partnership with the Idaho Department of Corrections for more than a decade and in a reflection of the strength of that partnership, the state announced in July that it would expand its contract with our company to house up to 800 additional inmates,” Owen wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke and the department's deputy chief of the contract services bureau, Pat Donaldson, both said they've seen no evidence of falsified staff reports. IDOC's contract monitors routinely review the staffing logs and overtime reports supplied by CCA and so far they've found nothing amiss, Donaldson said. A few months ago the department's contract monitors also began randomly checking to see if the security staffers at the Idaho Correctional Center matched those listed on the shift logs, and no discrepancies have been found, Donaldson said.

CCA runs the prison south of Boise under a contract with the state and that contract sets the minimum staffing requirements at the facility. In 2011, CCA agreed to increase the number of correctional officers working at the prison as part of a settlement agreement that ended another federal lawsuit alleging understaffing and rampant violence at the facility.

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Inmates claim gangs are running Idaho prison

A group of inmates is suing Idaho, saying the contractor running the state's private prison is cutting back on labor costs by letting prison gangs help run the prison.

Among other things, the litigants claim that gang leaders inside the Idaho Correctional Center are consulted by prison staff before new inmates are placed into certain cell blocks.

Prison officials dispute any suggestion of impropriety, saying they take various steps to insure security for all inside the facility.

But recognizing and conferring with gang leaders, the plaintiffs argue, strengthens the gang culture by legitimizing its authority.

Here's a link to an Associated Press article about the lawsuit.