Idaho’s Department of Correction says it’s now brought back another 68 inmates who had been housed out of state, in Sayre, Okla., bringing the state down to 120 out-of-state inmates, all of whom are now scheduled to be returned to Idaho by the end of the summer. The reason: Idaho’s prison population has actually dropped, which the department called “unprecedented.” At the start of the fiscal year, July 1, 2008, Idaho had 7,338 people incarcerated. Today, that figure is 7,270. State Corrections Director Brent Reinke said the decline comes because of “better coordination between the department and its criminal justice partners.” That means everything from more substance abuse treatment and more use of sanctions that serve as alternatives to prison time, to improvements in getting inmates the programming they need to qualify for parole by the time they reach their eligibility dates. “The return of these inmates is a reflection of how Idaho’s criminal justice system is working as a system,” Reinke said.
Also, additional prison space is being brought on line, including 628 new beds at the privately operated but state-owned Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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