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Eye On Boise

1999 law change on parole violators yielding big savings at prisons…

Idaho’s prison system saved $5.5 million last year as a result of a 1999 law change that ended the practice of forfeiting all time spent on parole prior to a violation that returned the offender to prison; in those cases, that time out on parole then was added back onto the prisoner’s sentence. Olivia Craven, executive director of the state Commission of Pardons and Parole said the commission now can credit prisoners for some or all of that time. “Each year since the law was passed, I’ve seen more and more days credited,” she said.

Last year, lawmakers funded two new employees at the commission; as a result, Craven said, the time lag of offenders awaiting release on parole was reduced by about four months.

Craven presented a “maintenance” budget request to JFAC this morning. “Our goal is to keep people in the community, but to protect others as much as possible with swift justice,” she said. “We are dealing with people’s lives, and our decisions will always be controversial. Every decision has its risk. We cannot predict human behavior.”

In 2012, 1,229 prisoners were released on parole. Of those who violated their parole, 33 percent were convicted of felonies. Next up at JFAC this morning: The Department of Correction, which yesterday announced it was dropping plans for a new $70 million secure mental health prison.

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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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