Idaho Governor Orders Investigation Of Private Prison

Idaho Governor C. L. Otter has ordered an investigation into the operation of a private prison. The criminal investigation was recommended amid accusations of falsified documents and understaffing. The Boise prison is owned by Corrections Corporation of America.

Following a meeting with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, the Idaho governor filed the formal request. Citing information provided by a forensic auditing firm, Otter said a full criminal investigation is necessary.

The letter, which was delivered to State Police Colonel Ralph Powell, refers to “acknowledged falsification of Corrections Corporation of America’s staffing records” which reportedly occurred in 2012. Otter said the letter is to serve as “direction for the Idaho State Police to undertake such an investigation immediately.”

As reported by Star Tribune, Powell and his agency were instructed to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations. Although it will certainly take a lot of time and money, Governor Otter said the investigation is in the public’s best interest.

Steve Owen, a spokesman for CCA, said the audit was flawed. Owen says KPMG, who conducted the audit, made some “major errors” while compiling the data. CCA has reportedly hired an attorney to address inaccuracies within the report.

The Idaho governor’s decision was surprising, as he denied previous requests to investigate the prison. Last year, the Associate Press questioned numerous CCA staffing reports, as many guards were listed as working 48 hour shifts.

Governor Otter

Corrections Corporation of America eventually admitted the documents were falsified, as the prison was understaffed. In their contract with the state of Idaho, the prison agreed to operate with a full staff at all times.

Citing the contract violation, the Idaho Department of Corrections requested a full investigation of the CCA facility. However, the investigation was not approved by Governor Otter or Colonel Powell.

Huffington Post reports that Otter has always been a “champion of prison privatization.” However as CCA has faced numerous controversies, the governor eventually ordered the Idaho Department of Corrections to take over management of the facility.

The KMPG audit eventually revealed that “more than 26,000 hours of mandatory guard posts were understaffed or otherwise problematic.” This data reportedly prompted the Idaho governor to change his mind and order an investigation.

Although CCA agreed to pay a $1 million fine for violating the contract, the criminal investigation will proceed as planned. Despite his previous support, the Idaho governor is not interested in a compromise. Governor C. L. Otter ordered the investigation to begin immediately.

[Image via Shutterstock]