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JUSTICE: Old idea, new approach

| February 27, 2015 8:00 PM

The article Feb. 23, Page A6, “Officials excited about new approach to criminal justice” should have made front-page news. What a concept … after national comparisons “Idaho had one of the highest incarceration rates in the country in 2013. Imprisoned nonviolent offenders were doing twice as much time as those in other states.” Instead of spending $288 million on a new prison, this new approach would beef up community-based supervision programs for nonviolent offenders.

Isn’t this what taxpayers have been trying to tell our Legislature for many years? Are they finally listening? Is it because the last three new jail proposals were shot down?

According to Kootenai County Sheriff’s 2012 annual statistics, it costs $32,777 to house an inmate ($89.80 per day). Some of our citizens are getting by on far less working two jobs at minimum wage with no medical/health benefits and less than three squares a day.

Hopefully this will put an end to any new jail proposal this year or in the future for Kootenai County or any part of Idaho. Hopefully, any money spent will go toward relocating any mentally ill prisoners to a mental health facility and opening up another mental health/drug abuse court where the recidivism rates have proven records of success.

JoANN LOKKEN

Coeur d’Alene