BOISE — Idaho’s justice reinvestment committee on Friday morning recommended legislators give judges more discretion in certain drug cases in which a person faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence and also voiced support for hiring more parole officers to help a people once out of prison.
The committee made its decision about mandatory minimums after hearing a presentation from Sean Falconer, a principal research analyst for the Idaho Department of Correction. Of the roughly 8,700 people in the department’s facilities, Falconer said, 375 of them were there primarily for drug trafficking charges, which require a judge to sentence them to prison for a set number of years based on how much of a given drug the person had at the time of their arrest. Drug trafficking charges, Falconer explained, are broken into three tiers, with each tier requiring a judge send a person to prison for a longer period of time than the last. Technically, a person could spend life in prison on a drug trafficking charge.