Out-of-state contract with CCA in Kit Carson, Colorado still needs examining
Boise, ID –Today, the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) assumes possession of one of Idaho’s most troubled prisons, the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC), previously under control of the private prison company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). In January, Governor Otter announced, amid rampant violence at the prison, chronic under-staffing and falsified work records that resulted in multiple lawsuits against CCA, IDOC would take over operations of Idaho’s largest prison.
“The ACLU of Idaho applauds Governor Otter in his decision to end CCA’s contract with the state and commends IDOC for their commitment to provide inmates with a safe environment,” said Interim Executive Director Leo Morales. “However, CCA will still have a presence in Idaho for an unknown period of time. Due to an out-of-state prisoner contract with the private prison firm, 234 Idaho inmates are still under CCA control. It’s time to bring Idaho prisoners home and officially end all ties with CCA.”
The ACLU of Idaho has received multiple letters from Idaho prisoners currently housed at the Kit Carson Correctional facility in Burlington, Colorado regarding concerns about prison conditions, medical care, and staffing.  As evidenced by the revelation last year that CCA falsified staffing records at the Idaho Correctional Center, and admitted to overbilling the state by 4,800 hours of unstaffed guard posts, CCA has proven that it cannot be trusted. And if they can’t be trusted to protect inmates charged under their care in Idaho, how can we ensure that our prisoners in Colorado can be adequately supervised outside the watch of the public eye?
Idaho’s practice of sending prisoners out of state is not new. Idaho's history of contracting with for-profit prison companies, including CCA, to send prisoners out-of-state dates back 17 years thanks to over-reaching criminal statutes due to the War on Drugs, resulting in ever increasing prison populations.
With inmates separated from their families, it diminishes supportive ties to family, community, and loved ones, which research has shown to contribute to better behavior and reduce recidivism. "Across the nation, more than 10,500 prisoners are currently being housed in for-profit prisons across state lines," said Holly Kirby, national organizer at Grassroots Leadership and author of the report, Locked Up and Shipped Away: Interstate Prisoner Transfers and the Private Prison Industry. "​Transferring prisoners far from home undermines individuals’ chances of rehabilitation, which is both harmful to families and​communities and detrimental to public safety."
Currently, Idaho prisons are inefficiently housing inmates – keeping individuals convicted of nonviolent drug crimes and parole eligible inmates incarcerated instead of under supervised released. If Idaho were to enact prescribed reforms based on a 2014 report from The Council of State Governments titled Justice Reinvestment in Idaho: Analyses & Policy Framework it could finally end its tumultuous relationship with CCA and bring Idaho inmates home.
Great strides have been made to hold Corrections Corporations of America accountable, but the job is not done. We urge policymakers to make the right decision – cut ties with CCA, save taxpayers money, and bring Idaho inmates home.