Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Justice Department Declines Charges In Idaho Prison Scandal

The U.S. Justice Department has declined to press criminal charges in connection with a contract fraud investigation at a private Idaho prison. The FBI began investigating the Idaho Correctional Center last year. The facility had been run by Corrections Corporation of America and was known for being so violent that inmates dubbed it "Gladiator School." U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said Wednesday that the probe was complete, and the agency didn't find probable cause to file charges. The Idaho...
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J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Authorities say a 73-year-old BASE jumper who died after leaping from a southern Idaho bridge had set his parachute on fire as part of a stunt.

A graphic video of the May 7 fatal jump was posted on YouTube on Monday. It appears to show James E. Hickey of Claremont, California, engulfed in flames as he plunged 500 feet from the Perrine Bridge to his death in the Snake River.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Lawmakers may be done setting the state budget and passing laws, but they'll continue to work on reviewing hot button issues varying from multi-million contracts, school broadband access and public defense reform.

Legislative leaders approved the 2015 interim committees on Tuesday. The panels will meet over the summer and provide recommendations to lawmakers during next year's legislative session.

This included appointing members to a new committee to review Idaho's bidding and selection process of the state's most expensive contracts.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has released a plan to protect the habitat of a struggling bird species from being destroyed by wildfire.

The new firefighting strategy comes as Western states work to avoid the sage grouse's classification as a threatened or endangered species. Experts say the restrictions that come with protecting the wide-ranging birds could damage the economies of the 11 states where they are found.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide Endangered Species Act protections this fall.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter praised lawmakers for successfully passing child support enforcement legislation during the Idaho Legislature's 11-hour special session.

Otter told reporters Tuesday that he will sign the bill once it gets to his desk.

Nicole Mays / Flickr

Federal investigators say that a Tennessee man and his family raised millions of dollars  for cancer patients, then spent the money on cars, luxury cruises, college tuition and to employ family members with six-figure salaries.

Officials say it's one of the largest charity fraud cases ever and involves all 50 states.

kevinkarnsfamily / Flickr

A drug, alcohol and mental illness treatment center for residents in north-central Idaho could open as early as this summer.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the Latah County commissioners have challenged a group of community members to open the recovery center as soon as possible after state funding is approved in July.

Barry Crabtree / Flickr Creative Commons

During a talk he gave in Oxford, England in 2013, environmentalist and writer Mark Lynas apologized to the very audience he used to demonize: companies and scientists that work with genetically modified foods.

"As an environmentalist and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a health and nutritious diet of their choosing," Lynas told the crowd, "I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path and I now regret it completely."

election day, voting
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Several school districts around Idaho are asking voters to approve levies and bonds Tuesday. That includes Horseshoe Bend, Notus, Parma and Marsing. Turning to local voters for money has become a fixture in Idaho in recent years as schools have sought to fill budget holes left by state cuts.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A special session of the Idaho Legislature has passed a bill that brings the state into compliance with federal rules governing child-support payments.

Similar legislation was rejected last month, jeopardizing U.S. involvement in an international treaty that aims to make it easier for parents worldwide to collect child-support payments.

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter called lawmakers back to Boise recently after nine Republican House members killed a compliance bill, jeopardizing the treaty and state access to federal funds and programs.

ironpoison / Flickr

Farmers and ranchers in the West's worst-hit drought regions will receive an additional $21 million to help them save water and soil despite the long dry spell.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the aid Monday. The assistance will go to areas of the West that are rated in the highest categories of drought. That includes parts of California, Kansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Utah.

The aid is meant to help farms and grazing pastures cope with drought through better irrigation, cover crops and other measures.

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