- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014
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.

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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.

Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray confirmed Friday that the FBI met with department director Brent Reinke on Thursday to inform him about the investigation. Idaho State Police spokeswoman Teresa Baker said her agency was no longer involved with the investigation and the FBI has taken it over entirely.

“They (the FBI) have other cases that are tied to this one so it worked out better for them to handle it from here,” Baker said.

Baker wouldn’t comment on what the other cases entailed. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson in Boise also declined to comment on the scope of the FBI investigation, but did say the agency was looking into fraud.


Former hotel guard sentenced for defacing Torah

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) - A former Jackson hotel security guard has been sentenced to a year in prison for civil rights violations for defacing a Torah and Jewish prayer books.

Federal prosecutors announced on Friday that 25-year-old Justin Shaw Baker admitted to spitting on the Torah and writing profanity and phrases including “Hail Satan” on the sacred book.

The religious books belonged to the students and faculty of the Margolin Hebrew Academy of Memphis who were staying overnight at the Doubletree Hotel in Jackson on their way to Gatlinburg. The Torah, religious books and musical instruments were left in a room at the hotel overnight, and Baker admitted to finding them and defacing them.

U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen also ordered Baker to pay $9,999.99 in restitution to Margolin Hebrew Academy.


State to pay $250,000 to parents of dead teen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The state of Tennessee has agreed to pay $250,000 to the parents of a teenager who died while in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services. Kendall Oates was 18 years old when he suffered a seizure and died at the Woodland Hills Developmental Center in Nashville in May of 2012. The money settles a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the teen’s father.

The Tennessean (https://tnne.ws/1dxiq2E) is reporting that there are questions about why the Brentwood teenager who had a seizure disorder was ever sent to a facility that houses some of the most violent youth offenders in the state. Oates was admitted into state custody after smashing a cellphone and lunging at his father. While in custody, the teen went to a series of group homes, but often lashed out at his caretakers. He was eventually transferred to Woodland Hills, where violent felons are often housed.

In the year before her son died, Diane Oates tried to get her son out of state custody.

The mother wept when she spoke in an interview about the ordeal.

“No amount of money replaces a child. I want him back. I want my son,” she said

The newspaper’s investigation found that a judge twice ordered that Oates be moved to a facility that could better take care of his medical needs. Under state law, DCS can overrule a judge on deciding where to place a child in its custody.


Ark. firm recalls 29,200 pounds of chicken product

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas firm is recalling about 29,200 pounds of seasoned raw, chicken breast strips due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Friday the recall involves George’s Inc. of Springdale.

The products are formulated with soy protein, a known allergen, and monosodium glutamate. But they were released with a label for George’s boneless skinless breast pieces with rib meat, which does not declare soy or MSG on the label.

The products were produced and packaged from Dec. 21 through Dec. 23 and were sold to distributors in Tennessee and Iowa for further distribution. The recalled products bear the establishment number “P-13584” below the USDA Mark of Inspection and “Packed on” date in the format of “month-day-year” on the carton label.

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