APNewsBreak: FBI investigates prison company
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The FBI has launched an investigation of the Corrections Corporation of America over the company's running of an Idaho prison with a reputation so violent that inmates dubbed it "Gladiator School."
The Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA has operated Idaho's largest prison for more than a decade, but last year, CCA officials acknowledged it had understaffed the Idaho Correctional Center by thousands of hours in violation of the state contract. CCA also said employees falsified reports to cover up the vacancies. The announcement came after an Associated Press investigation showed CCA sometimes listed guards as working 48 hours straight to meet minimum staffing requirements.
The Idaho State Police was asked to investigate the company last year but didn't, until amid increasing political pressure, the governor ordered the agency to do so last month. Democratic state lawmakers asked the FBI to take up the case last month.
CCA spokesman Steve Owen says his company would cooperate with investigators.
The understaffing has been the subject of federal lawsuits and a contempt of court action against CCA. The ACLU sued on behalf of inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center in 2010, saying understaffing contributed to the high levels of violence there.
YELLOWSTONE BISON SLAUGHTER
Yellowstone: Bison slaughters done for the season
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park administrators say shipments of wild bison to slaughter are done for the winter after almost 600 animals were removed.
The removals were part of an ongoing effort to reduce Yellowstone's herds to about 3,000 animals under an agreement with Montana.
Wildlife advocates contend the capture and slaughter program is unnecessary, citing research that says Yellowstone could support far more bison than the 4,600 counted last summer.
Idaho bill would let inmates do farm work
(Information in the following story is from: The Capital Press (Ore.), http://http://www.capitalpress.com)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A bill that would allow Idaho farmers to use prison-inmate labor when there is a farmworker shortage is before the Idaho state Senate.
The bill would allow inmates to help grow, harvest or process perishable Idaho farm commodities.
The bill's author state Sen. Patti Anne Lodge says fruit growers in southwestern Idaho have struggled to find enough workers in recent years. She says a lot of pears in the Sunny Slope region near Caldwell went unpicked last year.
The Capital Press reports that some of the inmates' earnings would help offset the cost of transportation and security.
The bill was welcomed by Dan Symms of Symms Fruit Ranch, which grows apples, peaches, cherries, plums, apricots and prunes in the Sunny Slope area.
He says some of his fruit went unpicked two years ago because of a lack of labor, and the operation struggled to get everything picked last year.
Lodge says the program would help reduce costs to the state and society because some of an inmate's earnings would go into a fund that would be used to pay restitution, child support and other court-ordered legal judgments. Some of the money would go into commissary funds, and some would be set aside to help inmates get a fresh start when they are released.
The bill stipulates that the use of inmate labor cannot result in employed workers in the region being displaced.
GAY VIGIL ARRESTS
Idaho gay activists jailed after vigil attempt
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The leader of the Add the Words group and two other gay activists were arrested at the Idaho Capitol after police nixed their plan to hold an all-night vigil inside the building.
The three demonstrators were arrested late Thursday night and charged with trespass after refusing to leave the Statehouse, which closes to the public at 10 p.m. on weekdays.
That marks the fifth arrest this year for former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who heads the group pushing for the Legislature to add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act.
The issue has been denied a hearing by Republican leadership.
CROP DUSTER SHOOTING
S. Idaho man convicted of shooting at crop duster
(Information in the following story is from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com)
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A south-central Idaho man has been convicted of shooting at a crop duster.
The Times-News reports that 42-year-old Christopher Lewis of Filer was found guilty of felony discharging a firearm at an aircraft.
Prosecutors say the pilot told police he saw someone wielding a shotgun below him about 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 24.
Several witnesses say they saw Lewis standing outside his house with a shotgun. Another neighbor testified she heard four shots, walked outside and saw Lewis fire twice at the crop duster.