Idaho’s newest prison, aimed at drug treatment, formally opens

June 22nd, 2010
By Brad Iverson-Long

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter cut the ribbon on the state’s newest prison Tuesday, which will start housing inmates in a drug and alcohol treatment program in July.

The governor was joined by several executive officials and members of other branches of government at the formal opening of the Correctional Alternative Placement Program (CAPP) south of Boise Tuesday. The minimum security prison will run a 90-day rehabilitation program for 400 inmates. The opening of the facility had been delayed for months due to cost concerns, though the Idaho Department of Correction and some lawmakers say the facility should end up saving taxpayers money while helping offenders addicted to drugs.

Otter said he hopes CAPP will make a difference, and that the majority of offenders in Idaho’s prison system have drug abuse problems.

Before cutting the ribbon, Otter acknowledged the cost concerns that contributed to the delays in opening CAPP.

A private company, Management & Training Corporation (MTC), built the $50 million prison and holds a five-year contract to operate the facility at a cost to the state of approximately $10 million a year. The budget approved by lawmakers earlier this year includes close to $4 million for CAPP, but the corrections department can shift funds in other parts of its budget to pay MTC. Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, who helped put together the corrections budget, said lawmakers may need to add more money to the corrections budget in the next year, but that CAPP is a good facility that needed to open.

Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke said that treatment options including CAPP should save the state millions within the next four year.

Reinke said that CAPP is a good use of state money, and should assist people who need help with drug and alcohol addiction.

CAPP will be Idaho’s second privately-run prison. The other prison, the neighboring Idaho Correctional Center (ICC), is currently facing a lawsuit from the ACLU over allegations of prisoner abuse. The ACLU recently agreed not to include the corrections department in the lawsuit, which will continue against the Correctional Corporation of America, which runs ICC.

Reinke also said he has no concerns with a private company running the facility.

Other state agencies that work with Idaho’s prison population are also supportive of CAPP and the corrections department’s emphasis on rehabilitating offenders. Idaho Supreme Court Justice Daniel Eismann said CAPP is part of treatment options that judges have recommended for past several years.

Olivia Craven, the executive director of the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole, said she thinks CAPP could help reduce parole violations by 40 percent by helping offenders not fall back into a life of drug use.

The new facility could also ease social services for non-offenders. Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) Director Richard Armstrong said that drug treatment programs have long waiting lists, and that shifting some criminal offenders to CAPP could help DHW programs treat those that haven’t committed a crime.

The correction department said that 32 inmates who will do food service and janitorial work at CAPP, and aren’t part of the drug treatment programs, will move into the prison on July 6. Shortly after that, the department will transfer 20 to 25 inmates a week into the facility for the 90-day treatment program. Offenders in the program will undergo 40 hours of training each week. Once it reaches full capacity, CAPP should serve 1,600 offenders a year. MTC will also employ 90 workers at the prison.

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