Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame: Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.
This week we return to Idaho, a familiar location for the Humpday Hall of Shame. Back in April, we reported that Idaho, despite a long run of horror stories and lawsuits involving private prison corporations, continues to contract with private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). CCA operates the Idaho Correctional Center, a facility with a reputation so violent that it has earned the nickname “Gladiator School” from people incarcerated there.
Now, Idaho is looking to export prisoners to a CCA prison in Colorado. See more from an AP article after the jump.
State prison officials plan to house hundreds of inmates at a privately run lockup in Colorado to avoid overcrowding at home.
The Idaho Department of Correction expects to finalize a contract in early July with Corrections Corporation of America to house inmates at the prison company's Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, Colorado.
I've blogged about Idaho's troubled history with prisoner export over at Texas Prison Bid'ness:
Two former GEO Group-operated jails - the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield and the Dickens County Correctional Center - continue to sit empty years after being closed in the wake of suicides by Idaho prisoners.
... Idaho pulled its prisoners after the suicide of Randall McCullough, who, according to news reports, had spent more than a year in solitary confinement. GEO was later hit with a massive lawsuit over in the McCullough case. Since the facility's closure, Littlefield has had its bond ratings dropped and turned to two different private prison companies in an effort to fill the prison beds.
The fate isn't much better for the Dickens County. That facility was initially closed in 2007 after an investigation of the suicide of Idaho prisoner Scot Noble Payne found "squalid" conditions.
Given this history, why would Idaho choose to continue this experiment with private prisons and sending people incarcerated in its custody out-of-state? Perhaps it has something to do with campaign contributions to influential politicians in the state. According to data from InfluenceExplorer.com, Corrections Corporation of America has donated more than $119,000 in campaign contributions to Idaho politicians since 2002. We'll keep you posted on developments from Idaho.