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Idaho Mental Health Prison Scrapped

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Correction and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter are backing away from a mental health prison, citing concerns over operating costs. Less than a month ago, Otter announced the $70 million, 579-bed facility in his State of the State speech. But on Monday, Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke withdrew the proposal. He said legislators were asking questions about the project’s ongoing costs — and Idaho’s priorities for helping address mental health and substance abuse.

Instead, Reinke says he’ll work with the Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho’s courts system, the Criminal Justice Commission and other groups on alternatives. Otter says he still thinks a secure mental health facility is needed, but must be considered “in the context of our limited resources” and the changing behavioral health environment.

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