Juvenile Corrections Agency Won't Comment on Leadership Shake-up

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The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections posted a help wanted sign seeking new leadership for its Nampa facility, which is embroiled in controversy and allegations of corruption, sexual misconduct and misusing taxpayer dollars.

The department needs to fill a post slated for vacancy by the current superintendent, Betty Grimm. Grimm, along with IDJC Director Sharon Harrigfeld and the IDJC, was named in a June whistleblower lawsuit that charges Grimm and the agency with maintaining a culture of corruption steeped in cronyistic practices that put inmates and public safety at risk, wasted public funds, and left juveniles vulnerable to sexual advances from staffers and other inmates.

The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections did not respond to Boise Weekly’s request for an interview about the job vacancy and other job openings at the agency. Idaho Department of Correction staffers say the agency has kept mum about the open position, leaving employees to speculate why Grimm plans to leave the department.

“I just know that she is retiring at the end of the year and her position is open. And that’s all I know,” said Rhonda Ledford, one of 12 plaintiffs names in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against IDJC.

“There’s a whole lot of speculation,” Ledford said.

The job description lists the first responsibility of the detention center supervisor as ensuring a safe and secure environment at the facility, as well as overseeing a budget of $2.5 to $7.5 million. The job pays $68,640-$76,960 annually.

The Idaho Department of Correction did not return Boise Weekly’s request for an interview about the open superintendent position or other recent job openings, including one for a security supervisor position.

Ledford said that position was vacated after IDJC employees saw the former security supervisor escorted off the Nampa detention center campus last month and the Nampa Police Department was called to the scene.

Ledford said that she reported an incident five months ago when that employee had a male juvenile alone with her in her office, out of sight from security monitors.

“Nothing came of it,” she said. “A security supervisor has no reason to have a juvenile in her office at all."

The security supervisor could not be reached for comment.

The incident is among the sexual misconduct complaints outlined in the whistleblower suit. Plaintiff attorney Andrew Schoppe recently filed an amended compliant to add six additional plaintiffs to the suit. The amended complaint also offers more alleged details about what happens behind closed doors at the Nampa detention center.

“Defendants have fostered an environment which has permitted juvenile-on-juvenile sexual liaisons in the facility and even staff-on-juvenile sexual liaisons,” Schoppe wrote in the complaint.

“Further, in at least one instance, an IDJC employee already notorious for her lack of qualifications for the job first refused to file a complaint on behalf of a minor who reported offensive sexual contact by another minor and then personally handled the juvenile’s subsequent complaint against her in a clearly inappropriate conflict of interest,” the complaint reads.

Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections officials have refused to comment on the lawsuit.

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