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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Idaho’s formerly stagnant prison population now growing again…

After four years of virtually no growth in Idaho's prison population, it's now growing again, state Corrections Director Brent Reinke told the House Health & Welfare Committee this afternoon. "We have really enjoyed this period of no-growth in the state of Idaho," the prisons chief said. "We went about four years with no particular growth. We're beginning to see an uptick now." He said, "If fiscal year 2012 trends continue, Idaho will have a 4.5 percent prison growth rate. ... Next year, if this trend continues, we would need about 832 additional beds, so theoretically we could be looking out of state by July of this year."

Idaho in past years placed its overflow inmates in out-of-state private prisons, a costly move that also led to numerous problems, including riots and escapes. "We're looking at every option that we can," Reinke said. "This is based at 99 percent utilization within our beds statewide." He said the issue will come before legislative budget writers next week when the Department of Corrections makes its budget presentation.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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