Gov. Otter Orders Idaho To Take Over Management Of Privately-Run Prison

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter Friday told lawmakers and media the state will take over management of a prison that's been operated by Corrections Corporation of America for several years.

In a letter to the Idaho Board of Correction, Otter says the state can do a better job of running the facility.

“After thoroughly reviewing all the facts and issues, as well as the heightened level of judicial oversight of operations there, it is apparent to me that our goal of consistently successful day-to-day operation is better served at this time by the State of Idaho taking a more direct management role at ICC,” Otter wrote.

Gov. Otter says state management of the prison "is a better way to ensure best practices, public safety, and the public confidence we all work to achieve."

According to The Associated Press, Corrections Corporation of America has operated Idaho's largest prison for more than a decade. The state pays CCA $29 million each year to manage the 2,080-bed facility near Boise.

The CCA prison has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging rampant violence, understaffing, gang activity and contract fraud by CCA.

CCA acknowledged last year that falsified staffing reports were given to the state showing thousands of hours were staffed by CCA workers when the positions were actually vacant. And the Idaho State Police is investigating the operation of the facility for possible criminal activity.

A federal judge also has held CCA in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of a settlement agreement reached with inmates in a lawsuit claiming high rates of violence and chronic understaffing at the prison.

The state's current contract with CCA expires July 1, 2014.

In a press release, Otter's spokesperson says the governor has been working with legislative budget writers to garner support for his plan. Still, lawmakers could be in for a challenge in order to fund and staff the prison by July.