Idaho Department of Correction

Erik Jones - Boise State Public Radio

This City Club of Boise forum was recorded on Friday, the 1st of March, 2019 at the Grove Hotel in Boise.


Reports from a state investigator and three staffers at an Idaho prison suggest that inmates' medical records may have been intentionally changed or destroyed in violation of a federal court order.

If the reports from three staffers and an Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses investigator are accurate, the state corrections agency could be at risk of years of sanctions from a federal judge, including years of additional oversight by the court.

Idaho lawmakers have introduced a bill that would formally expand the secrecy surrounding executions.

The Senate Judiciary and Rules committee agreed Wednesday to move forward the legislation from the Idaho Department of Correction. The bill would incorporate existing department policy on confidential execution records into state law, and broaden that language to include records involving the source of lethal medications used for executions. It would also make it illegal for the department to turn over the records in response to subpoenas or other preliminary legal inquiries.

Idaho Dept. of Correction

The Idaho Board of Correction has appointed Kevin Kempf as the new director of prisons one week after his predecessor, Brent Reinke, gave his resignation notice.

The board made the appointment during a special meeting Wednesday, but the choice wasn't a surprise. Kempf has been with the department for 19 years and has served as the deputy director since 2013. That position was created by the board after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he wanted all of his state agencies to have a succession plan in place in case of an unexpected departure.

The state takeover of a privately-managed prison in Boise is now underway.

Idaho corrections staff have been preparing for months to take over the 2,080-bed facility ever since Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced earlier this year he would not renew the $29 million-a-year contract with Corrections Corporations of America. That process officially began Tuesday.

Under CCA management, the prison has been sued and wracked by accusations of violence, gang activity and understaffing.

Incurable_hippie / Flickr

Idaho's new prison contraband law has yielded its first arrest.  Inmate Joshua Combs was charged with having of a cell phone and chewing tobacco at the North Idaho Correctional Institution in Cottonwood. 

The new law was approved this year during the legislative session.  It makes it a felony if a prisoner is caught bringing tobacco or phones into a jail. The law also means a prisoner could get an additional five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  Before this year, the crime was a misdemeanor.