Eye On Boise

Furloughs, demotions hit Idaho prison system

Idaho's state prison system is eliminating 24 more staff positions, bringing the number cut in the past two years to 102, and imposing far-reaching furloughs on all prison staffers in the coming year to cope with state budget cuts. Because of shifts of workers from one job to another and non-filling of positions that become vacant, there have been few layoffs, the Idaho Department of Correction reports. “This has been a difficult process especially for the employees whose jobs have been impacted,” said Corrections Director Brent Reinke.  “While almost all of them still have jobs, many of them have had to take pay cuts and demotions.” In the fiscal year that starts July 1, all prison security staff will have to take 32 hours of unpaid furlough, while all other department employees must take 80 hours.

Meanwhile, Idaho's prison population is forecast to grow by 4.3 percent in the coming fiscal year. Reinke said the growth could be more because of additional cuts in social service programs through the Department of Health and Welfare and the Office of Drug Policy. “The fact is there are now a lot of people who won’t get the mental health or drug treatment they need in the community and run the risk of ending up in prison,” Reinke said. Click below to read the department's full announcement of its budget-balancing plan.

Idaho Department of Correction
News Release

April 16, 2010

IDOC Announces Budget Reduction Plan

BOISE – In an effort to balance its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) is eliminating 24 more staff positions. That brings the total number of positions cut over the past two years to 102.

“We’ve had to make some very difficult choices since the budget crisis began,” said IDOC Director Brent Reinke. “But at every stage our focus has always been on our core mission - protecting the people of the state of Idaho.”

The IDOC plan to cut $3.1 million from the FY 2011 budget.  At least $1 million worth of savings will result from modifications to the department’s food service program. Eight of the 24 positions that are
being eliminated are food service jobs.

Despite all the cuts, only a handful of IDOC employees have been laid off.  From the start of the economic downturn, IDOC administrators have left many positions unfilled when an employee leaves the department. As a result, almost all of the employees whose jobs are being eliminated are being given an opportunity to transfer elsewhere in the department.

“This has been a difficult process especially for the employees whose jobs have been impacted,” Director Reinke said.  “While almost all of them still have jobs, many of them have had to take pay cuts and demotions.”

Another way IDOC will balance its budget in FY 2011 is by continuing employee furloughs. All prison security staff will be required to take 32 hours of unpaid leave.  All other IDOC employees must take 80 hours for an annual savings of  $1.9 million.

While IDOC’s budget is going down, the size of the inmate population is expected to go up. IDOC’s annual offender forecast calls for a 4.3 percent increase in FY 2011.  But the department is bracing for an even bigger population increase because of budget cuts to social service programs provided by the Department of Health and Welfare and the Office of Drug Policy.

“The fact is there are now a lot of people who won’t get the mental health or drug treatment they need in the community and run the risk of ending up in prison,” Director Reinke said.

IDOC employs about 1,500 people, incarcerates about 7,500 inmates and supervises about 13,800 probationers and parolees.

Release Prepared By:

Jeff Ray
Public Information Officer
Idaho Department of Correction




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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