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Eye On Boise

Judiciary chairs on budgets: ‘We are jeopardizing safety’

Senate Judiciary Chairman Denton Darrington told legislative budget writers today that Idaho has a problem with its correctional officers, as Corrections Director Brent Reinke earlier detailed: “They are so poorly paid … and it's not an easy job.” As a result, there's high turnover, both in adult and juvenile corrections. “That's probably the biggest problem in both agencies is the retention and pay of trained people,” Darrington said. At the Idaho State Police, he said, “We have remote stretches of interstate without officers on them very often.”  Said Darrington, “State police needs people.”

House Judiciary Chairman Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, a retired state trooper, said, “I've seen the rise and fall of what law enforcement tries to do to serve their communities. … These people are all, in their own agencies, really paying a terrible price right now.” ISP officers now often travel alone in very remote areas, he said. “They no longer have the opportunity of having someone to back them up that's close.” And he said prisons are understaffed. “I think that the safety of the public has to be paramount,” Wills said. “If we can't take care of our citizens, we're in trouble … and right now we're jeopardizing their safety, I truly do believe that.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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