EDITORIAL: Why did
Posted on: Thu, 18 Mar 2010 14:35:05 EDT
Mar 18, 2010 (The Times-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The other, run by the for-profit, Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union sued state prison officials and CCA over conditions at the state's only private prison, the
That's probably the worst-kept secret in
Stephen Pevar, senior attorney for the ACLU, said he has sued at least 100 jails and prisons, but none came close to the level of violence at ICC.
Guards use violence to control prisoner behavior, forcing inmates to "snitch" on other inmates under the threat of moving them to the most violent sections of the prison, ACLU-Idaho executive director Monica Hopkins said. The group contends the prison then denies injured inmates medical care to save money and hide the extent of injuries.
An Associated Press investigation of the ICC last year found essentially the same conditions described in the ACLU lawsuit. Clearly, IDOC -- strapped for resources because of successive rounds of budget cuts by the Legislature and holdbacks by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter -- hasn't done much about them.
ICC houses about 2,000 prisoners. The ACLU contends it is understaffed, with sometimes only two guards on duty to control prison wings with more than 350 inmates.
CCA is a company with a troubled legal history. It has faced numerous lawsuits from employees and inmates at the
In 1999, the company settled for $1.6 million in a class-action lawsuit brought by inmates at a private prison in
And at Kuna, CCA just isn't getting the job done.
It's time for IDOC; its director, Brent Reinke; the Idaho Board of Correction; Otter, and the chairmen of the state House and Senate Judiciary committees to realize that fundamental changes must be made at ICC -- and that the conditions described in the ACLU lawsuit merit reconsideration of whether the state's business relationship with CCA should continue.
If they don't, a federal judge may make those decisions for them. The ACLU often prevails when it sues corrections systems and providers over jail conditions, and even when it doesn't it forces changes that are frequently expensive for the taxpayers.
Conditions at ICC should never have deteriorated to this point. But now that they have, it's the state's responsibility to fix them.
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