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Idaho Planning to Send Even More Prisoners to GEO Group, What's Reinke Thinking?

It was just four days ago that a national news story exposed the squalid conditions at GEO Group's Dickens County Correctional Center. But Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke has already announced his intention to place more prisoners into GEO Group prisons. Tomorrow (Tuesday) he'll be asking the Governor for permission to move even more Idaho prisoners to GEO Group's private prisons in Texas.

This is the same director who published the Idaho Department of Correction (DOC) annual report earlier this year, with his executive summary explaining:

Education and treatment offer the best return on investment in the correction’s arena because of the proven impact on crime reduction.

That's because IDOC has shown that people who successfully complete in-prison cognitive programs are less likely to return to prison. This saves the community thousands of dollars for each person who avoids a return to lockup, potentially millions if it can be widely implemented. Reinke called it, "the best return on investment" and the community called it "what we want" when IDOC interviewed them back in 2005.

Over the last few years, Idaho's Department of Correction has struggled to keep up with the growth of their prison system. Although in this 2006 report, Idaho DOC's tried to pin this on the growth in Idaho's population, about two out of three prison "admissions" are people returning on parole violations. DOC reports that the leading factors for recidivism are low educational achievement and substance abuse. In 2006, IDOC's then-director Beauclair reported,

Added prisons is only part of the equation, the lack of community-based treatment is also a huge issue. More drug treatment is needed in cities around Idaho.

Idaho's own figures from 2006 indicated that 85% of their prisoners have a substance abuse problem.

But until Idaho figures out how to deal with drug addiction effectively and slow down returns to prison, GEO Group remains poised to rake in the dough --- an already projected $7 million from Idaho this year. That's bound to increase if the Idaho governor and Board of Correction give the green light to Reinke to ship even more prisoners to Texas.

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