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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Idaho shipping 250 inmates to private prison in Texas

Up to 250 Idaho prison inmates are being sent to a private prison in Texas as Idaho’s prisons fill to overflowing, state Corrections Director Henry Atencio announced Thursday. “We wish we didn’t have to send inmates out of state; we know it creates challenges for the inmates, their families and our staff,” Atencio said. “But as Idaho grows, so does the size of our prison population, and we simply have no more room here at home.”

Atencio said the 250 male inmates will be held “temporarily” at the Karnes County Correctional Center in Karnes City, Texas, “while the department seeks a long-term agreement with a prison-bed provider.” The center is a 550-bed facility operated by GEO Group.

The inmates selected for out-of-state incarceration all are classified as medium custody, and previously were held at Idaho State Correctional Institution, Idaho Maximum Security Institution, South Idaho Correctional Institution and Idaho State Correctional Center.

IDOC is current seeking responses to a Request for Proposals for housing up to 1,000 Idaho inmates out of state for up to six years.

Idaho has had a troubled history with private prisons. In 2009, Idaho had to pull inmates from a Geo Group-run private prison in Texas after an investigation into an Idaho inmate's suicide revealed the facility was squalid and poorly operated. In 2013, Gov. Butch Otter directed the state to take control of an Idaho prison that was being run by a private prison firm after an Associated Press investigation revealed the company, then using the name Corrections Corporation of America, was falsifying reports to hide chronic understaffing.

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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