CCA losing Idaho contract

State agency says no to extension of deal to manage 'Gladiator School'

State of Idaho officials have voted to open up to outside bidders the Corrections Corp. of America contract to manage one of their prisons once the Nashville company's current deal expires in June of next year.

The decision by Idaho Department of Correction leaders means the Idaho Correctional Center contract, which is worth roughly $30 million per year, will go up for bid soon. (CCA will be able to submit a proposal to extend its work.) CCA has run the 2,106-bed facility since it opened in 2000, but has repeatedly run into operational and legal problems there. The prison took on the nickname of "Gladiator School" among some inmates, a number of whom sued — along with the American Civil Liberties Union — CCA over violent incident and their general conditions. Earlier this year, an investigation revealed that the company had understaffed the facility. Soon after, the company's warden there resigned, a move CCA officials said was a personal decision that had been in the works for a while.

The pending loss of the Idaho Correctional Center contract pleased one activist who has for years campaigned against CCA and other private prison operators. Alex Friedmann, a former inmate at a CCA facility and now president of the Private Corrections Institute, said he sees the tide changing.

“Either due to fiscal reasons or CCA’s record of misconduct, states are realizing that they can do better than contracting with CCA or no longer have a need for the company’s privately-operated facilities,” Friedmann said in a PCI statement. “This reflects a trend in which states are reducing their prison populations and, thus, have less incentive to contract with for-profit prison firms.”

CCA last week said it also is about to lose contracts to manage two prisons in Texas and another in Missisissippi. The company owns one of those facilities, a 2,103-bed prison in Mineral Wells, Texas. That site will be idled in August.

Shares of CCA (Ticker: CXW) were down almost 1 percent to $34.19 in Wednesday afternoon trading on relatively light volume. Year to date, the stock is down slightly.

The IDOC move against CCA does have a positive side for another local company. As part of its decision, Idaho officials said they will consolidate the medical care at the Idaho Correctional Center under an existing contract with Brentwood-based Corizon.