“We all realized that unless we made some important changes, the prison population would continue to grow significantly. That would mean spending much more without actually addressing the causes. I applaud everyone who worked tirelessly to produce the legislation that I was pleased to sign. For the people of Idaho, it will mean safer communities and better use of taxpayer dollars.”1
Governor C.L. Otter addressed the criminal justice issues in connection with the Council of State Governments. Although there is a particularly low crime rate in Idaho, it has been growing steadily in recent years as recidivism begins to become a problem. And a low crime rate does not indicate a low incarceration rate. Despite having one of the lowest crime rates in the nation, Idaho is only slightly below average regarding its incarceration rate. This happens because the state has substantially longer prison stays for its non-violent offenders, coming in at twice the national length.2
The new legislation Gov. Otter has signed into law is part of a justice reinvestment strategy that aims to lower costs and increase safety by addressing criminal justice in the most efficient way possible.
The legislation will strengthen supervision and evidence-based programs that lower recidivism as well as tailoring supervision sanctions in order to decrease the likelihood that a technical violation will result in reimprisonment. Restructuring parole to prioritize prison space for violent and high-risk offenders is also a part of this plan.
The state was set up to spend 288 million dollars in construction and operating costs by FY 2019, but with the 4 million this legislation will cost, they are expecting to avoid that cost.