House Judiciary Chairman Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, cautioned that the justice reinvestment proposals would be phased in over five years, not done all at once. “What we are attempting to do this year is one year of a five-year program,” he said. “So while we cannot possibly entertain getting all these issues to the front this year, we are starting at the probation and parole. … We need to start at that end and then go back.”
Making changes to what occurs behind the prison walls would be further out, and there’s much to address, Will said. “We can save this state $290 million in five years by a $33 investment. That is data-driven, not just estimates – that’s data-driven information,” he said. “We know we can do far better … never losing sight that public safety is No. 1.”
A retired state trooper, Wills said it’s the first time he’s seen all three branches of state government come together on a major initiative like this. “Ultimately in five years, I think we’re going to see a huge reduction in what we’re currently paying out right now,” he said.
Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, said the project will “help us save lives and change lives.” She said, “We are in the process of drafting legislation now, so we will have something available quite soon.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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