BOISE -- A new study says Idaho's practice of shipping some inmates out of state is costly, unsustainable and makes it harder to rehabilitate those prisoners. However, the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) says it has no choice, because it is out of room.
The new study is by Grassroots Leadership, an organization that wants to end private prisons. They claim that shipping prisoners out of state to private prisons costs too much, and takes prisoners too far from their families, which hurts their chances of rehabilitating.
Holly Kirby, a researcher for Grassroots Leadership says, "It's clear that the practice of shipping prisoners out of state is costly, unsustainable, and hurting families."
Currently, Idaho has 239 inmates at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Colorado, which is a private prison.
Monica Hopkins, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho says, "First, I wanted to say 'thank you' to Grassroots Leadership for shining a light on an abhorrent practice of treating prisoners like commodities."
Hopkins points out that Kit Carson is run by the same company that runs the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is being investigated for possible contract fraud and falsified staffing reports. CCA was also held in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of a settlement with inmates claiming high rates of violence and chronic under staffing at the Idaho prison. CCA will no longer run that Idaho prison by July of 2014.
"It's shocking to me now that we would continue to house inmates at a CCA facility," said Hopkins.
CCA released a statement that said, in part, "We are proud that we've been one of the very beneficial tools that state policy makers have used to address prison overcrowding that the federal courts have deemed unconstitutional."
The IDOC was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. However, last year, IDOC Director Brett Reinke talked about the decision to send prisoners to that facility in Colorado, saying, "We know how hard this is on the inmates' families but the fact is we're running out of room."
The Department says the state's prison population started going up significantly in 2011. They started renting beds in county jails and used more beds at the Maximum Security Prison, but it wasn't enough.
IDOC does not know how long Idaho inmates will be housed at Kit Carson, but say it will likely be for several years, depending on the growth of the Idaho inmate population.