This brief from the Urban Institute analyzes the impact of Idaho’s 2014 criminal justice reform legislation. As a result of the legislation, timely releases of people convicted of nonviolent offenses have increased, length of stays in prison have declined, and transparency in parole release decision-making has improved.
In 2012, Idaho’s crime rate was among the lowest in the nation, but recidivism had increased between FY2008 and FY2012. Idaho’s prison population was projected to increase 16 percent between FY2014 and FY2019. From 2013 to 2014, the CSG Justice Center worked with Idaho state leaders to develop data-driven policy options designed to reduce spending on corrections and increase public safety. CSG Justice Center experts analyzed Idaho’s criminal justice data and interviewed stakeholders across the criminal justice system. State policymakers enacted justice reinvestment legislation in 2014. Among other things, the law:
- Strengthens supervision practices and programs designed to reduce recidivism and expands limited supervision caseloads for people who are assessed as least likely to reoffend and have complied with supervision conditions;
- Tailors sanctions for supervision violations, provides recidivism information at sentencing, and structures parole to make more productive use of prison space and increases the number of people released to parole supervision; and
- Assesses, tracks, and ensures the impact of recidivism-reduction strategies.
Idaho has benefitted from the passage of this legislation in multiple ways:
- As of December 2015, IDOC exceeded projections, housing 880 fewer individuals as a result of the justice reinvestment legislation (around 7,871 people). This represents a 3 percent decrease in the prison population between July 2014 and December 2015.
- It is estimated that the state has avoided spending approximately $14 million because of reduced bed needs (not including averted construction costs).
- As a result of these averted costs,
- $1.8 million was returned to Idaho’s General Fund this year;
- IDOC was able to close a unit at the Idaho Correctional Center; and
- All people housed in out-of-state prisons will be returned to Idaho by April 2016.
The Idaho State Legislature invested more than $5 million in improvements to its criminal justice system, including $2.4 million in community-based substance use treatment, and nearly the same amount in the hiring and training of probation and parole officers and the development of a web-based reporting system for limited supervision caseloads to support implementation of justice reinvestment efforts over two years (FY2015 and FY2016).
The CSG Justice Center provided technical assistance to Idaho on the implementation of its justice reinvestment policies. In particular, the CSG Justice Center helped Idaho redesign its programming system for people in prison and on supervision, implement swift and certain sanctions, and develop an evidence-based and research driven parole decision-making process.
Publications & Presentations
This report from the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) discusses the impact that the 2014 justice reinvestment legislation had on the state’s prison population and any associated cost savings.
Justice reinvestment legislation was enacted in March 2014 and the state is projected to avert between $221 and $288 million in construction and operating costs by FY2019.