TREASURE VALLEY — An overlooked Idaho Constitution amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot would make sure misdemeanor probation operations stay at the county level.
Senate Joint Resolution 102 answers offenders on probation who have questioned whether counties can supervise them since the Constitution says the state board of correction controls adult probation. SJR 102 simply inserts the word “felony” into the Constitution to officially allow local governments to oversee misdemeanor probation.
“The intent of this amendment is to clarify the state will be responsible for felons and the county will be responsible for misdemeanors,” Canyon County Director of Misdemeanor Probation Jeff Breach said. “It’s a way for the counties to be able to control local jail populations by offering an alternative sentence.”
Canyon County has 1,300 probationers not in its crowded jail because of the program.
Idaho Association of Counties Executive Director Dan Chadwick released a statement Wednesday in favor of the amendment. He said the measure has lacked publicity because it is not controversial.
“Just about everyone who’s taken a close look at the measure agrees it’s a good idea,” Chadwick said.
Idaho counties employ 108 probation officers who supervise about 14,000 offenders who are on probation for misdemeanor crimes.
“This arrangement works well because it just plain makes sense,” Chadwick said in his statement. “We have county probation officers working with county-based magistrate judges to make sure misdemeanor offenders obey the law. If they don’t, they face the possibility of doing time in a county jail.”
The other Constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot is the so-called “Right to Hunt” measure, or House Joint Resolution (HJR) 2. For more details about both amendments visit the Secretary of State’s website page sos.idaho.gov/elect/INITS/2012amend.htm.
WHAT IS SJR 102?
“Currently Section 5, Article X, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho provides that the Board of Correction shall have the control, direction and management of adult probation and parole. The proposed amendment would insert the word “felony” before the word “probation” and would clarify that the Board of Correction’s authority is limited to the supervision and management of felony offenders. Consequently, if the proposed constitutional amendment is adopted, the Board of Correction would not have the authority to supervise or manage misdemeanor probationers. Misdemeanor probationers would continue to be supervised by Idaho counties, as is permitted by law.”
- Source: Idaho Secretary of State