Group protests out-of-state inmate transfers, calls for prison reform

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 19:30:38-05

As state lawmakers prepare to set a budget for the Idaho Department of Corrections Friday, March 2, protesters rallied at the statehouse, urging them to not fund out-of-state inmate transfers.

This comes after the IDOC in February announced the move of up to 250 male inmates to a correctional facility in Texas.

“They’re still people,” said Mellyssa Tapia, a protester. “Yes, they’re in prison…but have a heart. A lot of these guys are not bad guys.”

Denise Tyler, founder of the Idaho Inmate Family Support Group, says she’s received dozens of letters from Idaho inmates unhappy with the transfer.

“They feel like they’re being punished and their overall morale has dropped because they have been ripped away from their family and support system,” Tyler said. 

The IDOC says a staff member will go down to Texas to ensure the transferred inmates are adequately cared for and supervised.

“That person will talk to inmates, talk to the staff at that facility,” said Henry Atencio, IDOC Director. “We’re going to review concern forms and grievances. Really, it allows us to provide a conduit back to Idaho for that inmate population.”

A population not forgotten by their loved ones who remain the Gem State, fighting for them to be returned.

“I’ve gotten a lot of responses, a lot of inmates who have gotten a hold of me,” Tapia said. “…letters on the way, as well, with hopes that something will change.”