ACLU drops IDOC from prisoner abuse lawsuit

June 3rd, 2010
By Brad Iverson-Long

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho has dropped the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) from a lawsuit against a privately-run prison that’s alleging carnage and suffering among prisoners.  ACLU amended a class action lawsuit, now targeting it only at the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which runs the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) located south of Boise.

IDOC reached an agreement with the ACLU to be removed from the lawsuit, Riggs v. Valdez.  “It is the goal of the State of Idaho to make its prisons safe,” IDOC Director Brent Reinke said in a news release.  “If the current litigation in Riggs v. Valdez results in a federal court order directed at ICC and CCA to change their policies and procedures, the state of Idaho will aggressively oversee compliance of an order at ICC.”

Monica Hopkins with ACLU of Idaho said going after CCA, and not the corrections department, would save state taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal expenses.  “We felt Corrections Corporation of America was the real culprit,” she told IdahoReporter.com.  “However, when state governments choose to contract out the management of its facilities, they don’t contract out the responsibility to adhere to constitutional standards.  The ACLU expects the department to aggressively enforce the safety of its facilities.”

The ACLU’s lawsuit alleges prisoner-on-prisoner violence and 24 cases of assault at ICC since November 2006.

Hopkins said CCA has two months to respond to the change in the class action lawsuit, and that a preliminary hearing on the case is set for Aug. 4, but could change.  A representative for CCA could not be reached for comment.

The ACLU has more on the lawsuit, including the amended complaint against CCA and ICC, at its website.

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