- George Prentice
The controversy that plagued Idaho's ill-advised private prison era is far from over. A federal judge has ordered Corrections Corporation of America to stand trial later this year, facing charges that it ran a violence-prone operation while understaffing the facility.
At the height of the private prison scandal, inmates alleged they had been savagely beaten in what prisoners dubbed a "gladiator school" where guards watched as violence escalated. Ultimately, the FBI moved in to conduct a criminal investigation and inmates began filing lawsuits against CCA.
In 2015, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced that her office would not prosecute CCA, even after the company admitted in 2013 that it had falsified nearly 4,800 hours in staffing records, with Idaho taxpayers footing the bill.
CCA eventually tossed back the private prison keys to the state of Idaho and paid a $1 million settlement. Many thought Idaho's private prison scandal had come to an end. But the lawsuit from eight inmates against CCA remained.
On July 7, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled CCA must stand trial to answer to those charges. The jury trial is slated to begin Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the U.S. Courthouse in Boise.
Upon hearing of Lodge's order, CCA spokesman Steve Owen wrote in an email to the Associated Press, "The Idaho Correctional Center was appropriately staffed at the time ... and we are confident we will prevail on this claim at trial."