The state police investigate after officials report discrepancies in Idaho Correctional Center books

From: Idaho Statesman, Feb. 5th 2013

By REBECCA BOONE — The Associated Press

BOISE, IDAHO — The Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America has run the facility under a contract with Idaho for a decade. The agreement contains minimum staffing requirements, which also have been spelled out in a legal settlement reached with the American Civil Liberties Union after inmates sued in federal court.

Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke told the state Board of Correction on Tuesday that he requested the investigation because the department found “potential anomalies” during an audit.

The department began taking a deeper look around the time The Associated Press filed public records requests for shift logs at the prison.

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an email that his company is also investigating and working with state officials. He said the safety of staff, inmates and the community is CCA’s top priority.

“It is premature and speculative to draw conclusions before all of the facts have been gathered, and to do so at this point would undermine the investigation that is taking place. If our efforts uncover inconsistencies, we will take swift action to rectify any issues,” Owen wrote.

CCA’s monthly staffing reports to the state — obtained by The AP — appear to show guards listed as working 24, 36 and 48 hours straight without time off. Although its contract with Idaho does not limit the number of hours a guard may work in a row, correction officials said it would be unwise to have such long shifts.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/02/05/2439788/apnewsbreak-prison-companys-reports.html#storylink=cpy

Jail mail soon restricted to only postcards

Mail to and from Spokane County Jail inmates will be restricted to postcards beginning Sept. 1.

The change will reduce the amount of time spent inspecting mail, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s office.

“Potentially hazardous substances can be secreted into envelopes which corrections officers have to open,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Legal correspondence in envelopes still will be accepted, and inmates still are allowed to receive approved magazines, book and newspapers.

Incoming and outgoing mail will be restricted to 5.5” x 8.5” postcards.

Senders must include their full names and address, as well as the inmate’s first name, middle initial, last name and inmate identification number.

Postcards that don’t fit the requirements beginning Sept. 1 will be returned to sender. Mail without a return address will be returned to the post office.

Link to article Here

Prison: ‘Gladiator school’ lawsuit should be axed

A major private prison company is asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit over prison violence in Idaho, saying the inmates bringing the case didn’t try to solve their problems through administrative channels before they turned to the courts.

Lawyers for Corrections Corporation of America told U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Wednesday that the inmates didn’t complete the grievance process at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center, so they are barred under federal court rules from suing the company.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the inmates, says the prisoners took all the necessary steps and that Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA failed to fix the problems at the Boise lockup.

The inmates asked for class-action status in the lawsuit earlier this year, saying ICC is so violent that it’s known as “gladiator school” and prison workers used inmate-on-inmate violence as a management tool, then refused to provide x-rays to injured prisoners as part of a cover-up scheme. CCA has denied the claims.

Winmill said he’ll try to decide whether the case will be dismissed or split up, or whether it will move forward as-is, within the next few weeks.

At issue is the Prison Litigation Reform Act, or PLRA, a 1996 federal law that sought to discourage inmates from filing frivolous lawsuits. The act governs judges’ actions in inmate rights cases, and in part requires that inmates prove they tried to solve the problem by complaining to prison authorities first.

CCA attorney Dan Struck said the PLRA also bars the main plaintiff in the case, Marlin Riggs, from adding additional inmates to his lawsuit.

If Winmill agrees, the inmates could all be forced to file separate lawsuits, or they could be required to start over under the prison’s sometimes lengthy grievance process before filing a new lawsuit seeking class-action status.

“The PLRA doesn’t give them any wiggle room here,” Struck told the judge. “They chose to cobble this action onto the Riggs case and I’m not sure why.”

Besides, Struck said, he believes that only a few of the inmates properly exhausted CCA’s grievance procedures before the lawsuit was filed. That would mean the rest of the claims — including complaints that CCA provided inadequate medical care, failed to protect inmates from harm, and that the prison was too crowded to give inmates safe quarters — all must be dismissed.

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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.

Link to full article with videos click here

APNewsBreak: Former Idaho prison heads transferred

By REBECCA BOONE (in: Associated Press)
June 11, 2010

BOISE, Idaho — A private prison company being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union amid allegations of extreme violence at an Idaho lockup has shuffled Idaho’s ousted warden and assistant warden to top posts at federal prisons in Kansas and Nevada.

Phillip Valdez, the former warden at the 2,104-bed Idaho Correctional Center near Boise, has been named assistant warden at the Leavenworth Detention Center, a prison CCA runs for the U.S. Marshals Service in Leavenworth, Kan.

The company didn’t have any open warden positions, so Valdez opted to take the assistant warden spot at the 1,033-bed Kansas prison rather than leave the company, said Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owens.

ICC’s former assistant warden, Dan Prado, has been named assistant warden at the new Nevada Southern Detention Center, a 1,072-bed facility currently being built at Pahrump, Nev., for the Office of Federal Detention Trustee, an agency under the U.S. Department of Justice.

Neither Valdez nor Prado could be reached by The Associated Press.

CCA announced that Valdez and Prado would no longer be leading the Idaho prison after the $155 million lawsuit was filed earlier this year.

The ACLU and inmates at the prison are asking for class-action status, contending the prison is so violent that it’s been dubbed “gladiator school” by prisoners and that guards expose inmates to beatings from other prisoners as a management tool. The lawsuit also contends CCA has denied adequate medical care to injured inmates as a way to reduce the appearance of injuries.

Read more here

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

APNewsBreak: Former Idaho prison heads transferred to new federal prison in Pahrump, Nevada

From: Associated Press
By REBECCA BOONE (AP)

BOISE, Idaho — A private prison company being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union amid allegations of extreme violence at an Idaho lockup has shuffled Idaho’s ousted warden and assistant warden to top posts at federal prisons in Kansas and Nevada.

Phillip Valdez, the former warden at the 2,104-bed Idaho Correctional Center near Boise, has been named assistant warden at the Leavenworth Detention Center, a prison CCA runs for the U.S. Marshals Service in Leavenworth, Kan.

The company didn’t have any open warden positions, so Valdez opted to take the assistant warden spot at the 1,033-bed Kansas prison rather than leave the company, said Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owens.

ICC’s former assistant warden, Dan Prado, has been named assistant warden at the new Nevada Southern Detention Center, a 1,072-bed facility currently being built at Pahrump, Nev., for the Office of Federal Detention Trustee, an agency under the U.S. Department of Justice.

Neither Valdez nor Prado could be reached by The Associated Press.

CCA announced that Valdez and Prado would no longer be leading the Idaho prison after the $155 million lawsuit was filed earlier this year.

The ACLU and inmates at the prison are asking for class-action status, contending the prison is so violent that it’s been dubbed “gladiator school” by prisoners and that guards expose inmates to beatings from other prisoners as a management tool. The lawsuit also contends CCA has denied adequate medical care to injured inmates as a way to reduce the appearance of injuries.

Read more here

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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.

Link to article Here

Crime Report on CCA Scandal

The Crime Report
 

 Three years ago, the new administration of Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and many legislators were talking up the idea of Idaho’s next major prison being a private-sector operation. Imagine the potential savings, proponents said then. Maybe eventually Idaho could get out of the bricks-and-mortar corrections business altogether, says the Twin Falls (Id.) Times-News in an editorial. That was before Idaho got to know the Corrections Corporation of America better. For nearly a decade, CCA has operated the 2,000-inmate Idaho Correctional Center — easily the most trouble-prone prison in the state’s history.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that the state is fining CCA more than $40,000 and ordering it to fix problems with drug and alcohol treatment and medical care at ICC. Ten of 13 drug and alcohol counselors at the lockup aren’t qualified to provide treatment under CCA’s contract with the state. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union sued CCA — and the state — claiming violence is so rampant at the ICC that it’s known as “gladiator school” among inmates. The lawsuit claimed Idaho’s only private prison is extraordinarily violent, with guards deliberately exposing inmates to brutal beatings from other prisoners as a management tool. The ACLU’s Stephen Pevar said he has sued at least 100 jails and prisons, but none came close to the level of violence at Idaho Correctional Center. “Our country should be ashamed to send human beings to that facility,” he said. Not many legislators have much appetite anymore for another ICC-style facility in the state. There’s much more enthusiasm for alternative sentencing and drug, alcohol and mental-health courts to keep Idaho’s inmate numbers as low as possible.
Link: http://www.magicvalley.com/news/opinion/article_af794e96-3578-5ae5-91e1-78340daff5ee.html

Filed under: Article, Private Prisons, State Prisons

Idaho Fines Private Prison for Contract Violations

The state is ordering private prison company Correction Corporation of America to pay thousands of dollars and fix problems with drug and alcohol treatment and medical care at the Idaho Correctional Center.

Ten of 13 drug and alcohol counselors at the prison near Boise aren’t qualified to provide treatment under CCA’s contract with the state, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

Additionally, a medical audit by Idaho Department of Correction officials earlier this year shows the private prison has extensive problems administering medical care, including inadequate records; delays in providing medications, immunizations and mental health care; and a lack of follow-up or oversight when inmates are returned to the lockup after being hospitalized.

The state ordered CCA to provide it with a plan to fix the medical care problems by May 25, but the company has already missed that deadline.

Idaho is also imposing liquidated damages against CCA for violating its state contract by failing to have qualified drug and alcohol counselors. The damages rack up at a rate of more than $2,600 a day; so far, CCA owes the state more than $40,000 for the violations.

“We’re very concerned,” said Rona Siegert, director of Idaho Department of Correction Health Services. “That’s the whole purpose of the audit, to find these things before they get to a level where they’re critical.”

Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA responded to questions about the problems through a prepared statement.

“Regarding the findings of recent medical audits completed by the Idaho Department of Corrections at Idaho Correctional Center, we acknowledge and share the concerns of our government partner and take them seriously. While the identified issues are not at a critical stage, we are working actively and deliberately to quickly and effectively resolve them,” the company said.

CCA also said it is trying to hire qualified staffers for its drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

“Our efforts to recruit qualified and credentialed addiction, alcohol and drug professionals from the available pool of local candidates continue. We are confident that these efforts will result in our company being in compliance in the near term with a fully credentialed Therapeutic Community staff, as local qualified professionals seek employment opportunities.”

Company officials also said several staff members are set to undergo certification testing in the coming months. But Natalie Warner, the Idaho Department of Correction’s contract administrator and quality assurance manager, said that under the schedule CCA provided for its current employees, the last of the certifications won’t be completed until June 2011. Meanwhile, CCA will have racked up more than $100,000 in liquidated damages.


In an April letter informing the private prison company of the issues, Idaho Department of Administration purchasing officer Jason Urquhart said the Correction Department feared that the drug and alcohol program violations could increase costs for the state.

Offenders often are required to complete the Therapeutic Community program to be released, so if the program’s integrity is compromised, offenders may have to stay in prison longer, increasing costs to the state, Urquhart wrote. He went on to say that the parole commission could require offenders to take part in drug and alcohol programs at other prisons — also increasing costs.

The medical audits, completed between February and April, suggest that in many cases, inmates are going without adequate care, Siegert said. Still, Siegert said the Correction Department didn’t know of any inmates who had suffered injury or harm because of the violations.

Among other problems found in the audits, inmates in the prison’s infirmary were sometimes left alone, without any working pager or call-light system to call a nurse or doctor in an emergency. They also were going too long between medical checks by nursing staff, according to the records.

“Our requirement is that a provider makes the rounds every day to see if they’re getting better or getting worse, what their vital signs are,” Siegert said.

Medical test results also languished unread for too long, raising the possibility that serious medical problems weren’t being addressed right away, Siegert said.

If the company doesn’t repair or adequately explain the audit findings, Idaho can impose liquidated damages for those violations as well.

“It’s going to stay on our radar and we’re going to continue watching it very closely,” Warner said.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/06/01/financial/f114357D89.DTL&type=science#ixzz0peqqAWjZ

Fed. court: ‘Gladiator prison’ suit can continue

By REBECCA BOONE – Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge says a prison violence lawsuit brought by 24 Idaho inmates against Corrections Corporation of America can move forward in court.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill says he can find no reason to prevent former Idaho Correctional Center inmate Marlin Riggs from modifying his lawsuit to seek class-action status and add additional plaintiffs.

Riggs sued the Nashville, Tenn., company last year, and in March several more inmates joined him. The group says the prison is so violent it’s called “gladiator school.” But CCA asked the court to reject the amended lawsuit, saying Riggs should go it alone in court and the rest of the inmates should file a new lawsuit.

Winmill turned down the request, saying it was more efficient to deal with the claims together.

For Link to article click Here