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Private prison admits to false staffing records

The private company that operates Idaho’s largest prison admitted April 11 that it falsified nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records over seven months last year in violation of its annual contract with the state.

The admission by the Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America is the latest in a string of staffing problems alleged or being investigated at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. Earlier this year, the Idaho Department of Correction asked state police to investigate staffing discrepancies at the lockup.

The company on April 11 confirmed its internal review concluded some employees at the prison falsified the number of hours worked last year, starting in May and running through November. Those workers will be reprimanded, and the company told the Department of Correction it will reimburse the state for the falsified hours.

Department spokesman Jeff Ray said the agency intends to do a separate review of the Corrections Corporation of America’s findings. He said it’s too soon to determine how the state will proceed or act on the contract violation. The company’s annual $29 million contract expires in June 2014 but could be renewed another two years.

“I think the focus right now has been figuring out how many hours were lost and who was involved,” Ray said. “Later we’ll certainly explore how to go forward from there.”

Telephone messages left by The Associated Press to company spokesman Steve Owen were not immediately returned April 11.

The Corrections Corporation of America, which operates prisons across the nation, has contracted with the state to run the Idaho Correctional Center for more than a decade.

The contract details how the company must run the prison. It includes minimum staffing requirements that also have been spelled out in a legal settlement the company reached with the American Civil Liberties Union-Idaho after inmates sued in federal court.

Idaho corrections officials asked state police to begin investigating the company’s records earlier this year after finding some staffing discrepancies through an audit. Around that time, the AP filed public records requests for shift logs at the prison that showed guards listed as working 24, 36 and 48 hours consecutively without time off.

Ray said state police will decide whether to probe the company’s staffing and payroll records prior to May 2012.

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