Idaho lawmakers search for ways to reduce prison population

By Rebecca Boone, Associated Press | Posted - Jun 18th, 2018 @ 2:54pm

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho's climbing prison population has a group of lawmakers giving a second look at some recommendations made by policy experts three years ago, including reclassifying some felonies as misdemeanors and increasing efforts to prevent people from going to prison in the first place.

The Criminal Justice Reinvestment Oversight Committee heard from state prison and probation officials and experts with the Council of State Governments on Monday. Idaho has more than 8,600 prison inmates today, and prison officials expect that number to increase to more than 10,000 by the end of 2022.

Based on that projection, the state will need close to 2,400 more prison beds within the next four years. Prison officials are now looking at building a new prison and expanding several others at a cost of more than $500 million.

Committee co-chair Sen. Patti Anne Lodge said the committee has a difficult problem to solve. She said giving inmates "good time" credit for behaving well in prison or finding alternative sentencing options for offenders are options to consider.

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Rebecca Boone

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