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Mother Jones Report on Corporate-Run Prison Abuses Has Echoes in Idaho


  • Adam Rosenlund

Shane Bauer spent two years as a prisoner in Iran—one of three American hikers detained from 2009 to 2011 after they crossed the country's border with Iraq. He also spent four months as a prison guard or, more accurately, posing as a prison guard to paint a sweeping picture of abuses at a Louisiana lockup operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

Published June 23 by Mother Jonesthe largest investigation ever printed by the 40-year-old nonprofit magazine—Bauer's story is a detailed, harrowing account of everything that can go wrong when profit motive guides incarceration.

They are revelations not entirely unfamiliar to Idahoans, who watched in 2012 as CCA, then operator of the Idaho Correctional Center, was hit with a lawsuit alleging similar behaviors to those Bauer describes in Mother Jones.

The Gem State even made its way into his report:  
In Idaho, CCA was accused of ceding control to prison gangs to save money on wages. A lawsuit filed in 2012 by eight inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center alleged there was effectively "a partnership between CCA and certain prison gangs," in which gang members were used to discipline inmates. The lawsuit prompted an FBI investigation, which found that employees had falsified records to cover up their understaffing of mandatory positions. A confidential CCA memo that was disclosed in the case showed that inmate-on-inmate assaults were four times more frequent in the CCA prison than in all other Idaho prisons combined. No charges were brought against CCA, but the state pulled its contract. "It was a lot better than this place," an out-of-state guard who worked in Idaho at the time told me.

Read the whole story here.