A legislative interim committee has unanimously endorsed a report calling for reforms to Idaho’s criminal justice system designed to address costly flaws in the system that are contributing to extra-long stays behind bars for non-violent offenders and for probation and parole violators. The full report will be presented to the Legislature tomorrow, at a joint meeting of the House and Senate judiciary committees. “We won’t do it today, but we’ll start drafting legislation and get that ready for everyone’s approval at a later date within the next couple-week period of time,” said Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, Senate judiciary chair and co-chair of the joint interim committee with House Judiciary Chairman Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry.
With the assistance of the Council of State Governments and the Pew Trusts, the project analyzed Idaho’s system, which has one of the nation’s highest incarceration rates despite the state’s low crime rates. The hope is that a relatively small investment in better offender supervision, treatment and other reforms will result in hundreds of millions in savings in the state’s prison system, and fewer offenders returning to prison again and again.