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ACLU-Idaho says prison may be violating settlement

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm •  Published: November 14, 2012

The inmates are asking for punitive damages, a move that allows them to seek more money than if they were compensated just for any actual harm they sustained. They claim that's the only way to make the company change its ways. Though they haven't named a specific dollar amount, the inmates are asking for enough money to "punish and discourage CCA and other similarly situated persons and entities from engaging in this type of reprehensible conduct in the future," according to the lawsuit. They also note the company handed out $80 million to shareholders last year.

Owen said in response to that lawsuit that the safety and security of CCA's facilities, employees and inmates are a top concern. He said any allegations are promptly investigated and, if the company's standards aren't met, are swiftly remedied.

Other inmates have reached settlements with CCA in the past, getting payouts from the company for their alleged damages. But those settlement amounts are always confidential.

Former inmate Marlin Riggs originally was part of the 2010 lawsuit but eventually split from the larger group to pursue his own case because he was the only inmate seeking monetary damages. Riggs had asked for $55 million, but it's unclear how much CCA actually settled the case for because both sides agreed to keep it secret.

The Associated Press filed a court motion asking a judge to unseal the settlement, citing the public interest in the case and the fact that CCA, while a private company, was carrying out a government function in Idaho. However, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled that the interests of Riggs and CCA in keeping the settlement confidential outweighed the interest that the public has in learning its terms.