As of 2013, Idaho had the nation’s eighth highest incarceration rate. However, of those incarcerated, 40% were parole or probation violators, meaning that prison space and taxpayer dollars were being wasted on non-violent offenders. Studies have found that serving time for parole or probation violations results in a higher chance of recidivism, indicating that incarcerating offenders for non-violent crimes turns them into repeat criminals.
Idaho passed legislation in 2014 to provide better parole and probation training, open mental health and substance abuse programs, and thus, make prison space for violent offenders by diverting non-violent offenders to other programs.
A year after Idaho's first reform, the prison population fell by 784 people. This bill was clearly successful; however, Idaho has done nothing since 2014 to further reform its criminal justice system. It needs to capitalize on the success of SB1357 and implement reforms that include protection against lawsuits for employers who hire ex-offenders, and stablish educational programs within prisons.
Identification of legislation should not be considered an endorsement of support of, or opposition to, such bills.