The latest plan for finding more places to shoehorn inmates into in-state prison beds – and avoid sending hundreds more out of state – involves converting a huge warehouse at the privately run, state-owned Idaho Correctional Center into bed space for 304 prisoners. But it really is just a warehouse, a simple metal building, which stands in contrast to the fortress-like concrete main prison buildings next to it.
When ICC was built in 1998, the warehouse cost just $15 a square foot to construct, compared with an average of $140 a square foot in the rest of the prison. At the time, officials said it didn't need the same security measures as the main prison, as inmates there would always be guarded because they'd have access to tools and equipment.
Officials acknowledge that the warehouse isn’t as secure as the main prison buildings, but say it’s inside the electronic “stun fence” that houses the entire ICC grounds, and it would be occupied by minimum-security inmates keeping busy with lots of treatment and programming as they approach release. Gov. Butch Otter's spokesman, Jon Hanian, said, "From our standpoint, we've got a crisis situation, and it's not getting any better. We've got to do something to address it immediately. … We are looking at an emergency."
You can read my full story here in today’s Spokesman-Review. These photos, which I snapped yesterday at the prison, show two inmates working in a jobs program in the warehouse, and ICC Warden Phil Valdez pointing out the security fence features around the warehouse.