Earlier this year, the AP reported that the Idaho Department of Corrections would retake control of the state’s largest prison from Corrections Corporation of America amid a “decade of mismanagement and other problems at the facility.” That transition is now underway. Today, the Associated Press published new complaints by state officials who say CCA’s poor planning and lack of medical care for inmates has produced ‘challenges,’ offering another possible glimpse into how private prisons cut costs and put inmates’ lives at risk. According to the AP:
Another problem was missing medical records and evidence that some inmates with chronic illnesses weren’t getting the regular medical care they needed, Evans said. The department has asked Corizon to go through the inmates’ records to determine what needs to be done to treat them, he said.
Officials also said the state had to pay for $100,000 worth of drugs to be overnighted after CCA left without a promised 8-day supply of medication. What is truly remarkable here is that CCA tried to defend itself by saying its estimates for the monthly cost of medication were lower than what the IDOC said they needed for just 8 days:
“CCA conducted an inventory with Corizon and determined that there was an adequate supply of medication available at the time of transition,” Owen wrote. “What’s more, CCA’s average monthly cost for medication at the facility was below $100,000, so IDOC’s figure for what we assume are identical medications is far in excess of what an eight-day supply would cost.”
To reiterate, CCA’s estimate of what it would cost to provide inmates with the drugs they need for an entire month was less than what state officials deemed was necessary for ONLY 8 days — so necessary in fact that they paid to have the drugs overnighted to the facility. Furthermore, if CCA is to be believed, it’s worth noting that their figures are derived from consultation with another contractor in the prison industry, Corizon, which itself has a record of prison healthcare mismanagement. The AP’s original report, which prompted an investigation and the state’s take-over of the prison, indicates that the Idaho Corrections Center earned the nickname “gladiator school” under CCA’s management for its high levels of violence. According to that report, prison officials denied inmates medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. Once the ICC is back under the state’s control, the prison will no longer be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests. If these reports from state officials are true, CCA clearly should have never been exempt in the first place.