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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Two Dem lawmakers call for end to state contract with CCA lockup in Colorado

Two Democratic state representatives are calling on the state Board of Correction to end a $4.5 million annual deal to house 226 Idaho prison inmates in a Colorado private prison operated by Corrections Corp. of America, saying, “We believe the department needs to develop and implement a plan to completely get out of the private prison business. … This should end.”

Reps. Mat Erpelding and John Gannon, both Boise Democrats, sent a letter to the board dated yesterday, citing the just-concluded FBI investigation into Idaho’s troubled deal with CCA to run the state’s largest state prison; the state took back over operation of the Idaho Correctional Center last July. After a 15-month investigation, federal prosecutors declined to file any criminal charges, but found numerous miscommunications and other problems surrounding the deal, in which CCA understaffed the prison at which inmate violence led to numerous lawsuits.

“Clearly the private prison experiment has failed in Idaho,” the two lawmakers wrote. They also cited an Idaho attorney general’s opinion from 2013 that before the Board of Correction contracts with private prison contractors, it must determine whether suitable state facilities are available. The two said they plan to “vigorously pursue” legislation next year to block future use of private prisons. You can read the full letter here. AP reporter Rebecca Boone has a full report here.

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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