One week into the new fiscal year and Ada Sheriff Gary Raney tells the GUARDIAN the transition for misdemeanor probation from a private company to the Sheriff is going smoothly.
“We handled hundreds of people last week with few glitches even though we had no control prior to them walking through the door,” said Raney. Probationers can contact the department at 577-3380 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The private for profit “Ada County Misdemeanor Provation Services, Inc.” came under fire when offenders complained to the GUARDIAN and the Ada Commishes about fees, drug testing, and other allegations. Commissioners declined to renew a contract with the private firm and turned the program over to the Ada Sheriff.
With the jail, work release, inmate labor detail, and other expertise we don’t see a major conflict with the supervision of misdemeanor offenders by the Sheriff. It isn’t much different than felony parole and probation being handled by the Idaho Department of Corrections which also runs the prison system.
There is a constitutional amendment on the November ballot which seeks to clarify the issue of whether or not counties have authority to manage misdemeanor probation.
The amendment is poorly written. It was hastily passed by 2/3 of both the Idaho House and Senate and needs a simple majority from citizens for approval.
Here is the proposal which simply adds the word “FELONY”:
“Shall Section 5, Article X, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended to provide that the state board of correction shall have the control, direction and management of adult felony probation and parole?” The Board of Correction already has the authority it seeks.
A legal opinion in a case argued before the Idaho Supreme Court held that ALL probation–misdemeanor and felony–is the duty of the department of corrections, not the counties or private contractors.
The proposed amendment does little to clarify the issue or enable counties to assume authority for misdemeanor probation. The language doesn’t say, “the state shall handle ONLY felony probation” and there is no mention of counties having authority to handle misdemeanor probation. In their rush to judgement we feel the legislature failed to communicate.
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