House editorial: A failed experiment

The Corrections Corporation of America is gone from Idaho. Let that sink in. Now, in your mind at least, do a tap dance on the grave of a company that profits more than any other from human misery. Go ahead. It feels really, really good.

For 14 years, CCA ran the state’s largest prison, the Idaho Correctional Center. During that relatively short tenure, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company racked up a list of misdeeds so long even Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter no longer could defend it.

Otter accepted nearly $20,000 in campaign contributions from CCA. His former chief of staff became a lobbyist for the company. Otter thwarted a promised Idaho State Police investigation into CCA’s overbilling of taxpayers. Only after the FBI started poking around did Idaho’s see-and-hear-no-evil governor do what should have been done long ago: send CCA packing.

On Tuesday, the Idaho Department of Corrections took over the former Gladiator School, a nickname that resulted from staggering levels of violence, lawsuits filed by inmates and guards, settlements, a judge’s contempt of court order and violations of CCA’s contract with the state.

CCA’s exit is the good news. The bad news is that despite this remarkable record of misdeeds, malfeasance and mismanagement, Idahoans still do business with this company. Because of overcrowding, more than 200 Gem State prisoners are serving time at a CCA prison in Colorado.

It’s time to bring them home and put a stake through the heart of a private prison experiment that by any measurement failed miserably.

Corey Taule

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