Target: C. L. Otter, Governor of the State of Idaho
Goal: Commend state’s decision not to renew its contract with a notorious for-profit prison corporation
Until recently, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) operated Idaho’s largest prison. The for-profit company’s track record at Idaho Correctional Center was marred by intense inmate violence, understaffing, and numerous lawsuits. Following revelations that CCA fraudulently billed the state for thousands of unworked hours, Idaho has decided not to renew its $29 million-a-year contract with the company.
According to the Associated Press, CCA left “more than 26,000 hours of mandatory guard posts unstaffed or inadequately covered,” directly contributing to unsafe conditions. Idaho Correctional Center is so notoriously dangerous that inmates and prison officials alike have taken to calling the facility “Gladiator School.”
CCA agreed to pay a $1 million settlement to the state of Idaho, but wants a damning audit declared “inconclusive” in a bid to save face and other lucrative contracts. The company has recently lost numerous multi-million dollar deals because of similar issues in other states. While Idaho initially considered finding another corporation to run its largest correctional facility, in the end the state opted to resume control of the prison itself. Commend the Governor of Idaho for cutting ties with CCA, and for stepping in to protect taxpayers and the human rights of inmates.
Dear Governor Otter,
I applaud you and your state for deciding not to renew a contract with the Corrections Corporation of America to operate the Idaho Correctional Center. The well-documented contract fraud and other issues plaguing the facility are a disgrace, wasting taxpayer money and putting the lives of inmates and prison employees at risk. Something had to be done.
While CCA has agreed to a settlement, its ongoing denial of wrongdoing makes clear it has no intention of changing its ways. The company has lost several contracts in other states recently, demonstrating deep, systematic issues. Leaving essential guard posts unstaffed helped lead to Idaho Correctional Center’s “Gladiator School” reputation; charging the state for these unworked hours added insult to injury. I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that cutting ties with CCA was “the right thing to do.”
Beyond this, you have decided to resume operations of the facility rather than turn to yet another corrections corporation. This is a bold and necessary step, and one which more states are contemplating as the realities of for-profit incarceration become clear. Privatized prisons have not saved taxpayers money, and have not helped make the country a safer place. Thank you for stepping in to address human rights violations and rampant fraud, and for walking away from the CCA.
[You’re Name Here]
Photo credit: Bjarki S via Wikimedia