Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Otter: Criminal justice reform ‘the right thing to do’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter closed out his talk to reporters at the AP Legislative Preview this morning by inviting up Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Patti Anne Lodge and House Judiciary Chairman Rich Wills to talk about the state’s criminal justice reinvestment project. The project, in which Idaho is working with the Council of State Governments and the Pew Trusts, already has turned up the news that nonviolent offenders are staying behind bars in Idaho twice as long as they do in the rest of the nation, and that Idaho suffers from a "revolving door" of recidivism, in which offenders go back behind bars again and again.

Otter said he’ll stand behind the reforms necessary to change that. “Certainly I’m going to support those, and I hope everybody supports those,” the governor said. “It’s the right thing to do.” He said, “One of the changes we are trying to make is to prepare those people for citizen life.” He said some go to prison because of a “small mistake,” and then, after an extended stay, “they turn out to be a criminal as a result of the behavior that they’ve learned in the prison. … We want to avoid that.”

There's also a push on to improve the state's public defender system; Otter said he'll address that in his State of the State message on Monday.

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.

Follow Betsy online: