There's a little-noticed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot in Idaho regarding misdemeanor probation services. SJR 102 adds one word, “felony,” to the section in the Idaho Constitution on management of adult probation in the state, to reflect current practice and clarify that counties manage misdemeanor probation, while the state Corrections Department handles felony cases. Dan Chadwick, executive director of the Idaho Association of Counties, says the change is needed: "Ballot measures don't have to be controversial to be important," he said. Click below for a guest opinion he distributed to Idaho newspapers today urging support for the measure.
Keep misdemeanor justice in our county courthouses, don’t outsource it to Boise
Daniel G. Chadwick
Idaho Association of Counties
When Idaho voters go to the polls, they’ll be asked to decide the fate of an important measure that would preserve local control of a key feature of our justice system. It’s called SJR 102. There hasn’t been much talk about it because it’s not controversial. Just about everyone who’s taken a close look at the measure agrees it’s a good idea.
SJR 102 would assure misdemeanor probation services in Idaho don’t get swallowed up by the state of Idaho. Right now, Idaho’s counties employ 108 well-trained, professional probation officers who use evidence-based best practices to supervise about 14,000 offenders who are on probation for misdemeanor crimes.
This arrangement works well because it just plain makes sense. We have county probation officers working with county-based magistrate judges to make sure misdemeanor offenders obey the law. If they don’t, they face the possibility of doing time in a county jail.
We don’t need to outsource misdemeanor justice to Boise. We need to keep it in our county courthouses where it belongs.
SJR 102 does that by simply inserting the word – “felony” – into the Constitution. That one word would limit the state Board of Correction’s power to supervising only adult, felony probationers and parolees, and it would keep misdemeanor probationers under the jurisdiction of the counties.
Just about every lawmaker, judge and county commissioner that I’ve talked with supports SJR 102. I hope you will, too, because on election day, ballot measures don’t have to be controversial to be important.