prisons

Friday, January 3, 2014

Otter Wants Keys to Private Prison Back

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Following 16 years of scandal and lawsuits, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter asked the Idaho Board of Correction to move away from having a private contractor operate the Idaho Correctional Center.

"It is apparent to me that our goal of consistently successful day-to-day operation is better served at this time by the State of Idaho taking a more direct management role at ICC,” Gov. Otter wrote in a letter to Board of Correction Chairman Robin Sandy. “Reviewing our own experience and those of prison facilities throughout the country makes it increasingly clear that State control of custodial functions within the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) at this time—particularly involving the close-custody security level required for ICC inmates—is a better way to ensure best practices, public safety and the public confidence we all work to achieve."

In April 2013, the Corrections Corporation of America admitted that it had falsified staffing records at the privately run prison, thus violating CCA's contract with the state of Idaho. The admission came after an investigation by the Idaho State Police and an internal review found that correctional officers claimed that they had staffed security positions at ICC, when in fact, the posts had been left vacant. Nearly 4,800 hours during a seven-month period were falsified.

In November 2012, eight inmates filed a lawsuit against CCA, alleging that the private prison operator was working with prison gangs to control the Boise facility.

According to an October 2011 Associated Press report, CCA ran the most violent lockup in the Gem State. AP obtained records that showed between September 2007 and September 2008, ICC had 132 inmate-on-inmate assaults, compared to just 42 at the state-run Idaho State Correctional Institution. Additionally, in 2008, ICC had more assaults than all other Idaho prisons combined, according to the AP.

The complaint alleged that CCA "fosters and develops criminal gangs" at its Boise lockup. It also alleged that prison housing supervisors "ask permission from gang leaders" before moving anyone new into an empty cell.

In June 2013, the three-member Board of Correction decided not to renew its options with CCA when its current contract expires Sunday, June 30, 2014.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

AP: Corizon, Previously Under Fire For Poor Medical Care, Wins Another Idaho Prison Contract

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Corizon, the Tennessee-based prison healthcare specialist, has been rewarded a new contract to provide medical care to inmates in Idaho's correctional facilities.

The Associated Press reports that the Idaho Board of Correction considered bids from four companies, and Corizon had the highest score, though it was also the most expensive proposal—$41 million per year. The three competing bidders—Centurion, CHC, Naphcare—have about a week to appeal the decision.

The AP reports that Corizon had been previously criticized when a court-appointed expert concluded that medical care at an Idaho prison was exceedingly poor. Corizon argued that it was meeting "national prison standards."

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Friday, October 4, 2013

CCA Will Toss Keys Back to Idaho, Exit Private Prison in 2014

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:31 AM

In 1997, the Corrections Corporation of America crafted its first contract with the State of Idaho to build and operate the Gem State's first private prison. Following 16 years of scandal and lawsuits, CCA is limping away from Idaho.

The Associated Press reports that on Oct. 3, CCA announced it would not bid on a new contract to operate the Idaho Correctional Center, south of Boise.

In April, CCA admitted that it it had falsified staffing records at the privately-run prison, thus violating CCA's contract with the State of Idaho. The admission came after an investigation by the Idaho State Police and an internal review found that correctional officers claimed that they had staffed security positions at ICC, when in fact the posts had been left vacant. Nearly 4,800 hours during a seven month-period were falsified.

In November 2012, eight inmates filed a lawsuit against CCA, alleging that the private prison operator was working with prison gangs to control the Boise facility. According to an October 2011 AP report, CCA ran the most violent lockup in the Gem State. AP obtained records that showed between September 2007 and September 2008, ICC had 132 inmate-on-inmate assaults, compared to just 42 at the state-run Idaho State Correctional Institution. Additionally, in 2008, ICC had more assaults than all other Idaho prisons combined, according to the AP. The complaint alleged that CCA "fosters and develops criminal gangs" at its Boise lockup. It also alleges that prison housing supervisors "ask permission from gang leaders" before moving anyone new into an empty cell.

In June of this year, a three-member Board of Correction decided not to renew its options with CCA when its current contract expires Sunday, June 30, 2014. While the State of Idaho will not submit its own bid to take over the facility, which is part of a large prison complex south of Boise, it will accept proposals from other operators.

"CCA is going to leave the cleanup and aftermath of those problems to somebody else," Boise attorney T.J. Angstman told the AP. Angstman represents inmates in the lawsuit alleging CCA ceded control to prison gangs. "Likely it will cost the state more money to find a new contractor, because somebody's going to have to pay more money to fix the problems."

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Idaho Inmate Admits to Elaborate Jailhouse Scheme

Posted By on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 11:00 AM

An Idaho inmate, serving time at the North Idaho Correctional Center in Orofino, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud after prosecutors alleged that he had been running a class-action lawsuit scheme from his jail cell.

Mark Brown, 53, was already serving time for grand theft and burglary, and federal prosecutors said he was running his scheme from behind bars for nearly six years. According to a federal indictment, Brown pretended to be party to a series of class-action lawsuits and bankruptcy settlements, netting nearly $64,000. Brown was slapped with 12 counts of mail fraud for the alleged scheme.

Brown pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Aug. 22, and each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. He is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, Nov. 13.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

IDOC Hunting for Missing Female Inmate

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The Idaho Department of Corrections said this morning that it was searching for an inmate who walked away from her job at at an East Boise community work center.

42-year-old Leah McCormack was reported missing Aug. 2, and she was last seen at a motel near the Boise Airport. She was wearing a black shirt and black pants.

McCormack is described as 5-feet, 3-inches tall, 140 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

McCormack was convicted for possession of a controlled substance and burglary. She was scheduled to be released in Sept. 2017.

Anyone with information about McCormack's whereabouts should contact Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Record Turnout at IDOC Career Fair

Posted By on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 4:42 PM

Lance and Dane Dubak fill out job applications at July 24 IDOC career fair.

Officials at the Idaho Department of Correction say when they swung the doors open Wednesday afternoon to correctional officer applicants, it began what they believe could be IDOC's biggest career fair ever. More than 100 applicants were already cued up when the doors opened at the headquarters of Correctional Industries on N. Orchard Street in Boise.

IDOC had promoted the event as "an expedited application process" where prospective employees could apply, interview and possibly be hired in the same day.

IDOC correctional officers have a starting hourly rate of $13.14 with an increase to $13.92 after succesful completion of entrance probation.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Death Row Inmate Sues Idaho, Wants Weekend Lunch

Posted By on Sat, Jul 20, 2013 at 1:00 PM

When Boise Weekly visited the Idaho State Correctional Institution's kitchens in March, we discovered some things that weren't so surprising (inmates' favorite meal is hamburgers) and some things that were surprising (the average cost of a meal is 81 cents, one of the lowest in the nation).

"In addition to our main line, we offer a non-pork, a vegan, a lacto-ovo [vegetarian but including dairy and eggs] or what we call a healthy choice diet, which is low in sodium, sugar and cholesterol," Katie Hall, dietary services manager for the Idaho Department of Correction, told BW. "When they come into the dining hall, they go to a special window to pick up their meal."

But one inmate, currently on death row, is suing prison officials because Idaho doesn't serve lunch to inmates on weekends. State officials told BW in March that while they serve three meals a day on weekdays, on weekends, they serve a larger breakfast and a piece of fruit at midday in addition to dinner.

But Timothy Dunlap, who has been sentenced to death in Idaho and Ohio for two murders—and is currently on Idaho's death row—says he's losing weight because he's not getting a weekend lunch. The Idaho State Journal reports that Dunlap claims in his lawsuit, filed last week in Boise's U.S. District Court, that he had a heart attack because of the change to weekend meals.

"I do know that it is cruel and unusual for the kitchen not serving lunch on the weekends," said Dunlap in his suit. He lost a previous suit against the state over the weekend menu. The state has yet to file a response to the second suit.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

U.S. Judge: Idaho Inmate Medical Records Remain Under Lock and Key

Posted By on Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Ruling that medical records of Idaho inmates should be afforded the same protections as the general public, a U.S. District Court judge agreed Friday that details involving medical care involving offenders, including treatment and financial specifics, could be permanently hidden from public view.

The Associated Press reports that the protective order was handed down by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill as part of a decades-long lawsuit involving inadequate care at the Idaho State Correctional Institute. Winmill's order will allow either the Idaho Department of Correction or inmates to determine if any record should be considered confidential.

“I take it very, very seriously,” IDOC Director Brent Reinke told the AP. “I want our staff and I to have that level of trust with the public. We take each and every public records request very seriously, and we will on occasion debate it several times before a decision is made. We do believe in transparency whenever possible. We do believe in staff security, and safety, and we try to be as open and honest as we possibly can.”

A lawsuit, launched in 1981, remains in federal court while IDOC continues to manage its end of a settlement agreement regarding conditions at ISCI.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

AP: Increased Mental Health Issues in Idaho Prisons Stress Inmates, Staff

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The State Board of the Idaho Department of Correction listened to a sobering report Thursday as IDOC Director Brent Reinke said his guards had found four inmates hanging from sheets at prisons and jails around the state. Three were found and rescued, but a fourth, housed at the Nez Perce County Jail, died before guards had discovered the body.

"We really need to pay attention from a mental health standpoint," Reinke told the board.

The Associated Press' Rebecca Boone reports that Reinke pointed to a so-called "105-form," a report that red-flags an inmate following a fight, suicide attempt or mental problem. In June, IDOC registered 78 105-forms, versus 56 in June 2012.

Additionally, IDOC officials said the increased number of mental health issues takes a significant toll on manpower and stress levels. For example, responding to each urgent mental health instance usually takes about six hours of a staffer's time and often leads to unexpected overtime.

"We really should not be asking ourselves why do we have so much turnover. That's a ridiculous question. We should be asking ourselves, 'How do we get people to stick around?'," said IDOC Chief of Prisons Kevin Kempf. "There are times when you have set plans to do something with your family that afternoon, and two hours before you leave, the shift commander comes and says you have to stay."

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Press-Tribune: A Few New Beds For Overcrowded Canyon County Jail

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Officials at the Canyon County jail say they're about to add 15 new beds to the facility, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho says that's not nearly enough to meet the needs of the community.

The bunk beds—10 for female inmates and five for male inmates—will cost about $4,000, according to this morning's Idaho Press-Tribune. Canyon County spent nearly $12,000 just for one month to house inmates in other counties' jails. Canyon County officials said they won't be making any architectural changes to the jailhouse but they will instead "make more efficient use of space," according to the Press-Tribune.

"This is a tiny band-aid that's going to save us a little bit of money," Canyon County Sheriff's Office Capt. Daren Ward told the Press-Tribune.

Canyon County voters have turned down a bond to build a new jail three times in the past several years.

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