By Rebecca Boone Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho — Attorneys for the nation’s largest private prison company have asked a federal judge in Idaho to throw out a lawsuit from inmates who say the company uses gangs to run a Boise-area prison.
In a motion filed in Boise’s U.S. District Court on Monday, attorneys for Corrections Corporation of America say that a lawsuit brought by eight inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center fails to meet legal standards and so should be tossed out of court.
The inmates sued in November, contending that the company is working with a few powerful prison gangs to control the facility south of Boise. The inmates say that CCA is able to save money on staffing by essentially allowing the gangs to run the prison, and that as a result, some inmates are forced to join gangs or risk being attacked.
CCA officials have said the company’s top priority is the safety and security of its prisons, employees and inmates and that the company is always held to the highest standards of accountability and transparency by its contracts with government partners like the Idaho Department of Correction.
“Once the hyperbole is removed from Plaintiff’s complaint, two fundamental defects come into sharp focus,” CCA’s attorneys wrote in the motion.
First, CCA contends that several of the inmates failed to fully use the prison’s grievance system — a step that is generally required before a prisoner may be allowed to file a lawsuit. Secondly, the company argues that the inmates didn’t meet legal standards for specificity in their complaint, and that they failed to include enough factual statements to show that their claims were even plausible.
It’s not the first time CCA has been sued in federal court over conditions at the Idaho Correctional Center.
The American Civil Liberties Union-Idaho represented inmates in a lawsuit that claimed the prison was so violent that inmates called it “Gladiator School” and that guards used inmate-on-inmate violence to control prisoners. That case resulted in a settlement agreement requiring management and organizational changes at the prison. Attorneys for the ACLU and CCA have recently been in talks over whether the terms of that settlement are being met.