UPDATED 3/5 Noting constitutional amendment has passed on this issue.
When the GUARDIAN began receiving what appeared to be credible complaints about the operation of the private for profit Ada County Misdemeanor Probation Services we forwarded details directly to the Ada County Commishes.
In May 2011 we posted the FIRST STORY which caused a brief stir and prompted assurances from Ada Commish chairman Rick Yzaguirre that an investigation would be launched.
About the only thing the Commishes have done is renew the contract with Nancy Cladis for one year to operate the company on contract with the county. We have checked numerous sources who tell us there has been some contact with Cladis, but it is aimed mostly at a “transition to the Sheriff’s department.” No investigation by a law enforcement agency has been conducted.
WHOA! Since the original story, lawyers have revealed the state constitution CLEARLY places probation–without distinction of felony or misdemeanor–under the purview of the Idaho Department of Corrections. There are a bunch of laws passed by the legislature relating to misdemeanor probation, but they are without question UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
All those complaints from probationers and former employees apparently are not being addressed. Most of the reports have been about probation officers making their own rules and charging fees for services not rendered and draconian rules regarding urine and drug tests which the offenders have to pay for or face jail.
Meanwhile officials collectively say, “We don’t have any alternative at this point so we have to go with what we have.”
SJR 1202–a constitutional amendment–has quietly made its way through the legislative process and has been delivered to the Secretary of State. The constitutional amendment changes only a single word, adding “FELONY” to to the probation duties of the Department of Corrections.
The DOC already has the authority and duty to administer felony probation. By simply not mentioning “MISDEMEANOR” probation lawmakers somehow think that will give authority to counties to administer it. In truth, the legislature is making a feeble attempt to make legal all the past unconstitutional laws they have passed regarding misdemeanor probation.
Regarding the board of corrections, the constitution will read:
“This board shall have the control, direction and management of the penitentiaries of the state, their employees and properties, and of adult FELONY probation and parole, with such compensation, powers,and duties as may be prescribed by law.” The constitution STILL does not give specific authority to counties, nor does it remove authority from the state…it simply muddies the water.
Meanwhile the illegal Ada arrangement is set to continue until October. If the constitutional amendment fails, the Dept. of Corrections could contract with counties, but would have to maintain control of the finances and operation. The state has placed drug and alcohol treatment under the Dept. of Health and Welfare, but provides no funds to operate–which prompted Boise and Ada County to open their own facility. They do the same with misdemeanor probation, but that pesky constitution has once again interfered.
A class action lawsuit on behalf of probationers seems to have stalled in the court over procedural issues, but is still active.
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