BOISE – Idaho has the second-highest rate in the nation of women being held in prison.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics lists Idaho as having 111 women in prison for every 100,000 residents in 2011, according to the Idaho Statesman.
Overall, Idaho’s incarceration rate ranked 11th nationally, with 471 of every 100,000 residents under state or federal jurisdiction for more than a year. The incarceration rate for men ranks 14th nationally.
Idaho Correction Director Brent Reinke is on the Criminal Justice Commission and previously spent a decade running the Department of Juvenile Corrections. “I saw many kids pass through that system that had parents that were incarcerated,” he said. “Unfortunately, many of those young people are now in prison. It’s kind of a revolving door.”
According to the Anne E. Casey Foundation, about 1.5 million children nationwide have parents in prison. The foundation said those children are five times more likely than other children to end up in prison, and one in 10 will be jailed before turning 18.
In an attempt to break that cycle in Idaho, the director for the state Department of Health and Welfare, Dick Armstrong, used $30,000 in federal money to pay for two small, two-year pilot programs at schools in Vallivue and Boise districts.
“We hope that by getting these kids early, they can escape that ‘cradle to prison pipeline,’ ” said Ross Mason, Region 4 director at the Department of Health and Welfare. “These kids can see that life goes on without both parents around.”
He said absenteeism is higher among those students, so the program takes aim at that problem.
“If we can get the kids to school, we think the academics will improve,” Mason said. “If the academics improve, we think the behavior improves. That’s the hypothesis.”