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Eye On Boise

Documents suggest ISP misled officials about CCA investigation

There’s more on the Idaho State Police’s non-existent investigation into Corrections Corp. of America, with the Idaho Statesman reporting that records it obtained under the Idaho Public Records Law show the Idaho Board of Correction believed ISP had conducted a criminal investigation and found no violations, a belief that fed into its decision to sign a $1 million settlement with CCA over understaffing at Idaho’s largest prison, which at the time had earned the nickname "gladiator school" for its rampant violence. But a year after the investigation supposedly had been under way, ISP said it never launched a criminal investigation.

Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell reports on numerous references to the supposed investigation over the year, including a letter from a deputy attorney general assigned to the Idaho Department of Correction urging ISP to turn over its investigation results to the county prosecutor. Then-state prisons chief Brent Reinke formally requested a criminal investigation by ISP in February of 2013. As IDOC officials believed the ISP investigation was under way, they held off on their own probe, and turned over documents to the ISP. Sewell’s full report is online here.

After ISP announced it had done no investigation in February of 2014 and Gov. Butch Otter defended the agency, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden urged Otter to order one, and after initial delay, he agreed. ISP then determined it had a conflict of interest and the investigation was taken over by the FBI. On May 20, U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson announced that the year-long federal investigation resulted in no federal criminal charges, but did uncover "miscommunications" and "uncorrected assumptions." "While these miscommunications ultimately gave rise to suspicion of an effort to delay, hinder or influence a state criminal investigation, such miscommunications, unsupported by any other evidence, do not rise to the level of criminal misconduct," Olson said. "There were a number of other actions or inactions that may be of concern to the state agencies, to the voters, to whatever."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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