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Friday, August 9, 2013

Judge says he'll decide soon if CCA is in contempt

SacbeeA federal judge says he will decide soon if Corrections Corporation of America should be held in contempt of court for violating a settlement agreement it had with inmates at an Idaho prison requiring the company to increase staffing.

U.S. District Judge David Carter told attorneys for both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Nashville, Tenn.-based private prison company that he planned to review the evidence immediately while it was still fresh in his mind from the hearing.

The hearing was requested by the ACLU of Idaho, which is representing inmates at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center. The inmates sued CCA in 2010, saying the facility was so violent prisoners called it "Gladiator School." CCA denied the allegations but reached a settlement the following year that required widespread changes at the prison, including increased staffing.

The company earlier this year acknowledged it understaffed mandatory minimum posts by 4,800 hours over seven months in 2012. On Wednesday, company officials said that understaffing was during night shifts, and the company didn't investigate day shift patterns.

The settlement agreement was originally set to expire on Sept. 16. But the ACLU wants the judge to extend the agreement — and thus, oversight of the court. The ACLU says the company is still not meeting minimum staffing required under both the settlement and its $29 million contract with the Idaho Department of Correction.

CCA's attorney, Dan Struck, told the judge in closing arguments Thursday evening that CCA has taken meaningful and effective steps to resolve the matter and had already agreed to extend the settlement agreement, but the ACLU's attorney, Stephen Pevar, refused. continue reading...

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