On February 23rd, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) settled a lawsuit brought by a former nurse at the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) named Michelle Pierce, who claimed she had been fired in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment and abuse by her colleagues. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Pierce’s disturbing story is one of several to have come out in the wake of Idaho’s decision to take back control of the facility last year. Under CCA’s watch, ICC was nicknamed “gladiator school” for its high levels of violence. When Idaho began the process of transitioning the facility back to the state last year, investigators and three whistleblowers revealed that IDOC employees had potentially manipulated prisoner medical records to cover up neglect and mismanagement that took place while it was still under CCA’s control. Pierce’s story provides an additional perspective on the atmosphere permitted, and sometimes encouraged, by CCA leadership within ICC.
Pierce was hired as a Licensed Practical Nurse at ICC in 2012 when CCA was running the facility. Her primary job was to run the medication cart, conducting rounds in the housing units to distribute prescriptions to prisoners. Guards were required to accompany her on those rounds as a safety measure.
On the night of September 13, 2012, Pierce went into a housing unit to collect “kites,” which are forms that prisoners fill out when they want to see medical staff or report a health issue. Pierce encountered three male CO’s in the unit: Officers Spurgess, Vasquez and Omerevich. Continue reading