Northwest News

Idaho officer resigns after he viewed inmate’s photos, contacted her on social media

Matt D. Johnson, an Idaho Department of Correction officer, resigned Sept. 4, 2018, after an internal investigation found he viewed photos taken of a former female inmate and then messaged her on Facebook about them.
Matt D. Johnson, an Idaho Department of Correction officer, resigned Sept. 4, 2018, after an internal investigation found he viewed photos taken of a former female inmate and then messaged her on Facebook about them. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

An Idaho Department of Correction officer has resigned after an investigation found he inappropriately contacted a former female inmate via social media after viewing photos of her body taken when she was admitted into the prison.

Matt D. Johnson resigned Sept. 4, IDOC Director Henry Atencio told the Statesman.

Typically, when an inmate is admitted to prison, distinguishing tattoos, scars and other marks are photographed. The photos become part of the inmate’s record, which is stored in a database for official prison use only.

The woman alleged Johnson viewed IDOC’s photos of her and then messaged her on Facebook with comments about her tattoos and scars.

Prison officials began an internal investigation in July upon learning about the incident after the woman took screenshots of her online message exchange with Johnson and posted it to social media to draw attention to Johnson’s behavior.

The prison’s internal investigation “sustained the allegations” made by the woman, Atencio said. The Statesman is not identifying the woman.

Atencio would not comment further on Johnson or the investigation, saying it is a personnel matter.

“This is something we take very seriously,” Atencio told the Statesman in July. “If true, it is a breach of public trust. We hold our staff to a higher level than that.”

IDOC hired Johnson in February 2015. He worked at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, a medium-security men’s prison south of Boise.

The Statesman has reached out to the woman’s attorney for comment. Johnson could not be reached.

Cynthia Sewell is the Statesman’s government and investigative reporter. Contact her at (208) 377-6428, csewell@idahostatesman.com or @CynthiaSewell on Twitter.

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