Idaho Prisons

Idaho Dept. of Correction

The Idaho Board of Correction has appointed Kevin Kempf as the new director of prisons one week after his predecessor, Brent Reinke, gave his resignation notice.

The board made the appointment during a special meeting Wednesday, but the choice wasn't a surprise. Kempf has been with the department for 19 years and has served as the deputy director since 2013. That position was created by the board after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he wanted all of his state agencies to have a succession plan in place in case of an unexpected departure.

www.idoc.idaho.gov

Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke is stepping down from his post after leading the department since 2007. His tenure included overseeing the fallout of a private-prison scandal, handling the first two executions since 1994 and enhancing the department's contract oversight.

Reinke submitted his resignation Tuesday during a special Idaho Board of Corrections meeting.

Courtesy Idaho State Historical Society

A new collection of vintage photographs is highlighting Idaho's historic old penitentiary which was home to bank robbers, assassins, horse thieves and moonshiners for more than 100 years. The fortress-like Old Pen has long been a staple in east Boise, and it's now a place for tourists instead of criminals.

Idaho Department of Correction officials have dramatically scaled back their assessment of the problems encountered when they took over the state's largest prison from Corrections Corporation of America this month.

Last week, Shane Evans with IDOC told the Board of Correction that CCA failed to leave behind a promised 8-day supply of medication, and that the new health care provider had to ship $100,000 worth of medication overnight just to reach the minimum amount needed at the facility.

pills, drugs
DestinysAgent / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho prison officials say they had to have thousands of dollars' worth of medications shipped overnight to the state's largest prison after the former operator, Corrections Corporation of America, left the facility without a promised 8-day supply of inmate medications.

IDOC officials also say they discovered that some chronically ill inmates went without needed medical care and that some records were missing when they assumed control of the prison last month.

The state takeover of a privately-managed prison in Boise is now underway.

Idaho corrections staff have been preparing for months to take over the 2,080-bed facility ever since Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced earlier this year he would not renew the $29 million-a-year contract with Corrections Corporations of America. That process officially began Tuesday.

Under CCA management, the prison has been sued and wracked by accusations of violence, gang activity and understaffing.

Idaho correctional officials say the upcoming state takeover of a Boise private prison will be seamless. 

The state will begin running the more than 2,000-bed Idaho Correction Center starting July 1 when the $29 million-a-year contract with the Corrections Corporations of America expires.

Warden Randy Blades said that the transition process is 98 percent complete during an Idaho Board of Corrections meeting Thursday.

roberthuffstutter / Flickr

Several states, including Idaho, are refusing to comply with a federal law designed to reduce sexual assaults in prison, with governors criticizing the Prison Rape Elimination Act as an unfunded mandate that replaces good intentions with red tape.

The governors of Idaho, Texas, Indiana, Utah and Arizona have informed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that they won't try to meet the federal prison rape standards. Governors were required to certify by May 15 that their states either met the standards, or to promise that they were actively working toward that goal.

courtesy ACLU of Idaho

For six years Monica Hopkins has been one of Idaho’s top civil rights campaigners as head of the ACLU of Idaho. Now Hopkins is leaving the state to take charge of the American Civil Liberties Union branch in Washington D.C.  

Hopkins says the ACLU of Idaho has accomplished a lot in these last six years. Among those successes, she lists lawsuits seeking better conditions for inmates in Canyon County as well as lawsuits against prison operator Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

Associated Press reporter Rebecca Boone has won a national Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in public service journalism for a series of stories covering understaffing at Idaho's largest prison.

Boone's investigation revealed that private prison company Corrections Corporation of America falsified staffing records in violation of the company's $29-million-a-year state contract. She also examined how the state missed warning signs of problems at the prison despite increased oversight of CCA's operations.

A federal prosecutor says she doesn't need a lawsuit against a private prison company put on hold for an FBI fraud investigation at an Idaho detention facility.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson's statement comes in response to a request from Corrections Corporation of America lawyers.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company had asked a judge this week to pause the suit from eight inmates who say they were attacked by a prison gang because there weren't enough guards on duty.

The FBI has taken over the Idaho criminal investigation into private prison company Corrections Corporation of America.

The Nashville, Tenn.,-based CCA has operated Idaho's largest prison for more than a decade, but last year, CCA officials acknowledged it had understaffed the prison by thousands of hours in violation of the state contract. CCA also said employees falsified reports to cover up the vacancies. The announcement came after an Associated Press investigation showed CCA sometimes listed guards as working 48 hours straight to meet minimum staffing requirements.

Idaho's top Democratic lawmakers have asked the FBI to investigate private prison company Corrections Corporation of America for possible criminal wrongdoing at the state's largest prison.

The letter sent to Boise FBI Agent Ernie Weyand on Thursday says the lawmakers are concerned that the Idaho State Police lacks both the manpower and expertise needed to properly investigate the Nashville, Tenn.-based company's activities in Idaho.

The lawmakers also say the investigation may cross state lines, putting it under federal jurisdiction.

Corrections Corporation of America will pay Idaho $1 million for understaffing the state's largest prison in violation of its contract.

The agreement between the private prison company and the Idaho Board of Correction was announced Tuesday.

Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA acknowledged last year that its employees falsified staffing records given to the state, making it look as though thousands of hours of mandatory guard posts were filled when they were actually left vacant for months.

CCA says the payment makes Idaho taxpayers whole.

The Idaho Board of Correction has officially ordered the state's prison department to begin the process of taking over operations at the privately run Idaho Correctional Center.

The board made the decision Friday, one week after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced that he believed the state's experiment with privatization at the facility was over.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter Friday told lawmakers and media the state will take over management of a prison that's been operated by Corrections Corporation of America for several years.

barbed wire, prison
Havankevin / Flickr Creative Commons

The two biggest private prison companies in the nation say they don't want the contract to run a troubled Idaho prison, and that could shrink the pool of potential bidders to just two smaller companies.

GEO Group sent a letter to Idaho Department of Correction officials last month to say thanks but no thanks to the chance to bid on a contract to run the Idaho Correctional Center. Corrections Corporation of America, which currently operates the facility, has also said it won't seek a new contract when its current $29-million-a-year deal with the state expires next summer.

710928003 / Flickr

After a three-year investigation into allegations of possible criminal civil rights violations at Idaho's largest private prison, the U.S. Department of Justice is declining to prosecute any current or former guards with Corrections Corporation of America.

The investigation looked at whether any prison staff had criminal liability for inmate-on-inmate assaults between 2006 and 2011 at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.

Administrators and staff at Idaho's prison agency knew since at least 2010 that private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of America was understaffing the state's largest prison in violation of the state contract.

Idaho Department of Corrections officials and CCA eventually came to an agreement about staffing levels, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press, but inmates and advocates continued to complain about inadequate staffing and its impact on prisoners' safety.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Rows of potatoes stretch off toward the horizon where the South Boise Correctional Complex looms. Inmate Joe Molyneux sticks his hands into the dirt and comes up with two potatoes.

This is the fourth year that inmates have grown potatoes, corn and beans on state land near the prison. It’s Molyneux’s first year doing this and he wanted this assignment. 

“To watch these plants grow, and to watch the magic of it, you plant one little tiny seed potato and you get a big pile of them at the end of the year,” he says. “The whole point of it is to watch God’s handiwork.”

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