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Kelly v. Wengler

Status: Ongoing
Last Update: May 23, 2016

What's at Stake

This case, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Idaho, seeks to put a stop to the culture of rampant violence that has led to carnage and suffering among prisoners at officials at the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC), the state-owned facility operated by the for-profit company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

The class action complaint identified epidemic violence at the facility as the direct result of, among other things, ICC officials turning a blind eye to brutality, a prison culture that relies on the degradation, humiliation and subjugation of prisoners, a failure to discipline guards whose misconduct precipitated assaults, and a reliance on violence as a management tool. After reaching a settlement agreement in September 2011 requiring policy changes and systemic improvements, the ACLU continues monitoring CCA’s compliance to ensure that violence is actually reduced, to protect both prisoners and guards.

UPDATED MAy 23, 2016: A federal appeals court has upheld a contempt order against CCA for violating terms of a settlement agreement over how it ran the Idaho Correctional Center.

The ruling stems from a federal class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU against CCA on behalf of prisoners incarcerated at the facility. The complaint alleged deliberate indifference by CCA officials, inadequate staffing and supervision, and a failure to adequately investigate acts of violence at the prison.

The case settled, and as part of the agreement CCA was to make a numerous improvements designed to reduce violence in the prison. It failed to do so, prompting the contempt proceedings. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a 2013 contempt order against CCA, which no longer operates the facility. The Ninth Circuit ruling is here.

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