Idaho State Correctional Institution

Inmates are seen at the Idaho State Correctional Institution this summer.

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One in 33 adults in Idaho were on probation and parole in 2016, the second-highest rate in the nation, behind Georgia.

That’s according to a report released Tuesday from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Nearly 2 percent of the American population was on probation or parole in 2016, an increase of 239 percent since 1980 — when prison populations began rising, according to the report.

Earlier this month, the Idaho Press reported that state prison populations have continued to grow by 6 percent each year.

To accommodate the growth, the state is considering a $500 million funding request that would include a new prison. The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Reinvestment Oversight Committee has also been meeting regularly to review research and develop recommendations for legislators.

Previous justice reinvestment talks have highlighted issues such as:

  • Idaho is only one of three states that provides prisoners almost no way to earn time off for a good behavior, and
  • Idaho has the highest incarceration rate of any of its surrounding states, but the lowest rate of violent crime.

While Idaho works to solve its ever-increasing prison population, an Idaho Press report looked at how Utah has been successful in their efforts to decrease their prison population and crime rates. In 2014, Utah passed legislation reducing all first- and second-time drug possession convictions from felonies to misdemeanors and reducing more than 200 misdemeanors to citations.

Only 1 in 135 Utah adults were on probation and parole in 2016, the fourth lowest in the nation, according to the Pew report. From 2015 to 2017, Utah’s prison population dropped 9 percent and the crime rate declined.

Utah’s 2017 population of 3.1 million was nearly two times greater than Idaho’s population. However, Utah’s prison population is 6,674 — about 2,000 inmates fewer than Idaho’s prison population of 8,657 as of Tuesday. The number of adults on probation and parole is just under 19,000 in Utah. Idaho’s supervised population is just below 16,000.

What probationers and parolees look like nationwide

The Pew report found that 8 in 10 probationers and two-thirds of parolees were sentenced for nonviolent crimes in 2016. Drug and property crimes accounted for more than a million of those supervised, which the report said would rank among the 10 largest cities in America.

Of those on felony probation and parole, men and black adults were over-represented. The report found that although black adults only make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 30 percent of the probation and parole population and are 3.5 times more likely to be supervised than white adults.

Men are also supervised 3.5 times more than women. But, as Idaho has also experienced, the population of women incarcerated has also increased. In 1990, Pew reported that only 520,000 women were supervised, but at the end of 2016 that number had reached over 1 million.

Emily Lowe is the Canyon County public safety reporter. Follow @EmLoweJourno on Twitter

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