For Immediate Release:
BOISE — Several Idaho and national faith, human and civil rights, social justice, labor, and criminal justice reform organizations delivered a letter to Idaho officials calling for the return of the 236 Idaho prisoners currently being held in a for-profit, private prison — the Kit Carson Correctional Center — in Burlington, CO. The Colorado prison’s operator, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), is the same company that admitted to falsifying thousands of staffing hours at the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) and is now the subject of an FBI criminal investigation for its management of the Idaho facility.
“It took months of investigative research, a trial and a contempt hearing to hold CCA accountable for cheating Idaho taxpayers and creating a ‘Gladiator School’ at an Idaho Correctional facility,” said Monica Hopkins, Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho, “and yet Idaho officials continue rewarding this kind of deceptive and abhorrent behavior by extending their contract with CCA to ship Idahoans out of state. If we can’t trust them in our backyard, how can we trust them over 1,000 miles away?”
Letter signatories argue that CCA is untrustworthy and Idaho prisoners’ safety and well-being are at risk under CCA’s management. In light of Governor Otter returning control of the ICC back to the state, they now urge Idaho officials to immediately end the contract with CCA to house prisoners across state lines and cut ties with CCA once and for all.
"It defies comprehension why the state of Idaho continues to do business with CCA — a company that has admitted defrauding the state, which ran a facility with levels of violence four times higher than all other Idaho state prisons combined, and which is currently the subject of an FBI criminal investigation,” said Alex Friedmann, Associate Director of the Human Rights Defense Center. “In any other context, the state would have severed its relationship with such a company. It is time to do so now with respect to Idaho's contract to house state prisoners in a CCA-run facility in Colorado, located far from their families."
The letter also cites a national report released last November, which demonstrated that sending prisoners out-of-state impedes prisoner rehabilitation by diminishing supportive ties to family and community, a component research has shown to contribute to better behavior and reduce recidivism. “This practice of shipping prisoners out of sight and mind to address prison overcrowding must come to an end,” said Holly Kirby, author of the report and organizer at Grassroots Leadership. “For too long and with little public scrutiny, state leaders have slapped this costly bandaid on a problem that requires sustainable solutions to reduce the number of people behind bars.”
Furthermore, signatories of the letter argue that alternatives exist, highlighting a January 2014 report, Justice Reinvestment in Idaho: Analyses and Policy Framework, which showed that Idaho prison space is currently being used inefficiently — with people convicted of nonviolent crimes and eligible for parole occupying prison beds rather than being released. Releasing these low-risk individuals would free up the much needed in-state capacity to bring prisoners home from the out-of-state CCA facility.
Organizations that signed on urging Idaho officials to bring prisoners home from a private prison in Colorado include American Civil Liberties Union - Idaho, Idaho Public Employees Association, National Association of Social Workers - Idaho, The Sentencing Project, Grassroots Leadership, In the Public Interest, Justice Policy Institute, United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society, American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights Defense Center. See the letter with full list of signatories HERE.
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