U.S. Judge: CCA Violated Idaho Contract When It Understaffed Private Prison

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Following years of controversy, private prison Operator Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Idaho's private prison, was told by a federal judge Sept. 16 that it was in contempt of court for understaffing the Idaho Correctional Center.

U.S. District Judge David Carter handed down the afternoon ruling, saying that CCA violated its contract with the State of idaho by understaffing the facility. Additionally, the judge said that CCA would be fined at a rate of $100 an hour if more than 12 hours in a month were understaffed going forward.

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 launched 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, it 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.

You can read the full decision and order, handed down Monday by U.S. District Judge David Carter here:Memoranum_Decision_and_Order.pdf