CCA to Idaho: We’re Blowing This Popsicle Stand

CCAPatchThe Associated Press reports that Nashville-based corporate prison behemoth Corrections Corporation of America is pulling out of Idaho after what the AP story calls “more than a decade marked by scandal and lawsuits surrounding its operation of the state’s largest prison.”

A company executive informed the Idaho Department of Corrections in a letter that CCA will not bother to bid on a new contract to run the Idaho Correctional Center located just south of Boise. CCA’s Idaho operation has been plagued by inmate lawsuits alleging that understaffing and all-around bad management have led to violent conditions. Although a settlement was reach in 2011, CCA’s legal troubles in Idaho took a new turn earlier this year when the firm fessed up to falsifying staffing records at the prison, acts that caused Idaho’s taxpayers to pay the company for thousands of hours of time for staff positions that were actually vacant.

The latest bad news for the company — and perhaps the final straw for its Idaho operation — came in mid-September when a federal judge found CCA in contempt for the chronic understaffing problems at the facility. The ruling (pdf) by District Judge David O. Carter reads like quite the CCA smackdown, with the court noting “extensive and ongoing violations of the Settlement Agreement”:

For CCA staff to lie on so basic a point—whether an officer is actually at a post—leaves the Court with serious concerns about compliance in other respects, such as whether every violent incident is reported.

In the letter informing Idaho corrections of the company’s decision not to rebid, CCA Vice President Brad Regens wrote that “we have delivered exceptional value to Idaho’s taxpayers through cost savings, and we’ve also provided outstanding rehabilitation programming to the inmates entrusted in our care.” I guess Regens thought it best not to mention that the Idaho prison they managed came to be known as “gladiator school” on account of the rampant violence there.

CCA is the nation’s largest private prison operator (“a full-service corrections management provider” offering “future-focused, forward-thinking correctional solutions” is how they describe themselves), running more than 60 facilities in 20 states. Make that 19.

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.


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