Court Brokers Agreement On 30 Year Old Idaho Prison Lawsuit

May 16, 2012

 The Idaho Department of Correction has reached an agreement over a lawsuit filed by prisoners more than 30 years ago. The agreement requires upgrades to medical facilities at the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise. The agreement reached in U.S. District Court Tuesday gives a six month deadline for initial improvements…followed by a 2 year monitoring period. Department of Corrections director Brent Reinke says the initial cost of the changes will be more than $1.5 million. But Reinke says the agreement has to be approved by the legislature and governor, since they control the state’s finances.

  “Especially the last 48 months have been very challenging in the area of state budget issues for the department of Correction," Reinke says. "But this particular piece of federal litigation has been something we’ve been living with in this department for 31 years. So for us to be able to move forward on this I think is going to be looked at very favorably.”

 Over the last three decades, the court has ordered a number of changes as a result of this suit. Those include providing better clothing for inmates and taking steps to reduce violence and overcrowding.  A court-appointed physician conducted a review of the prison’s medical care last year.  It lists mistakes that likely led to inmate deaths, neglect of terminal patients, and insufficient emergency equipment.