Developers Should Pay For Prisons

For the past five years Growthophobes have been fed a steady diet of proud proclamations that Idaho is the fastest growing state in the country, #1 place to retire, most bike friendly, etc.

Looks like we are also in the top ten when it comes to spending to put away criminals.

But rather than tax the developers, bankers, mortgage brokers, or new businesses for housing the crooks, Idaho State Government dumps on the local counties by cheating us out of the cost to house the criminals sentenced to the custody of the Idaho Department of Corrections. Instead, the politicos offer tax breaks and advertise in California for folks to “Come To Idaho.”

It costs local counties about $100 per day to lock up offenders in the local slammer. IDOC has come up with a unique proposal to balance the state budget–screw the counties!

Under the current formula, the state pays $55 per day for each inmate for the first seven days and $75 per day for every day thereafter.

“A single daily flat rate is the way to go,” Idaho Department of Correction director Josh Tewalt told the legislative joint appropriation committee last week. IDOC is proposing a single daily rate of $60 for fiscal year 2021 and $65 for fiscal year 2022.

Ada County Sheriff Steve Bartlett called Tewalt’s proposal, “A terrible plan.”

Canyon Sheriff Kieran Donahue said, “If this proposal were to move forward, it would reduce our IDOC reimbursements by approximately 15% per year. That loss of revenue would have to be made up elsewhere, likely in the form of increased property taxes. In short, this proposal is nothing more than an insult to county taxpayers and county sheriffs across the state.”

Instead of offering tax breaks to businesses to relocate in Idaho, it would seem more logical to simply institute an “impact fee” on those newcomers including the developers who profit from all the increased population…and crime.


Most cities and counties in Idaho tell us the crime RATE per capita has gone down. So why the need for more jail and prison cells? Well, the “per capita” may have gone down, but there are more “capitas.” (Example: 10% of 100 is 10. 8% of 200 is 16. A 20% reduction in the rate, but a 60% increase in raw numbers)

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The need for bigger and better jails is a complex issue, the biggest of which is IDOC wanting bed space because the legislature is too cheap to pony up for more beds.

    I wonder how it costs the counties $100/day and the state costs are $55/day. That’s $45 going where?

    Canyon County won’t get a new jail until Donahue leaves office as well as certain commishes.

    As mentioned developers should be on the hook for all cost increases not just jails. BTW it is jail and not Correctional Facility there is nothing Correctional about it.

    How about consider not locking up people up because you are mad at them e.g. Marijuana possession that might help the taxpayer.

  2. ha!
    We could make a long list of politicians and political appointees of which either have or should have occupied some prison space.

    Let’s start with the above Josh Tewalt.
    “When he was named deputy chief of prisons in 2011 at just age 30, his appointment was notable because he’d had three arrests for DUI of drugs or alcohol between 2002 and 2006 and had no college degree. Governor Butch Otter(R) officiated at Tewalt’s wedding at the governor’s ranch in Star in 2009.” ~IdahoPress 11/28/18
    So was the Deputy Chief of Prisons on probation when appointed to the job?

    Disclaimer–The GUARDIAN takes no responsibility for the above comment.

  3. –offer tax breaks and advertise in California for folks to “Come To Idaho.–

    And in the famous words about “those people”:
    “When [California] sends its people, they’re not sending their best.
    They’re sending people that have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

    It’s no wonder our prisons and jails are full. Blame the Californians!
    (ha! again)

  4. I’ve been thinking about this and here is what I think we need to do. We need to sort out the visiting criminals from the native criminals. ALL, I repeat ALL, visiting non-state criminals will be shipped back to point of origin. Chances are, other states are looking for these guys and gals at any given time. Unless it is somehow essential that these transient criminals should be tried here in Idaho, then send them away.

    Then we determine the compulsions that drives our own criminal sect. Find the best and just solutions for OUR OWN.

    Remember, that guy Timmy Kinner had only recently arrived, before he stabbed that poor girl on State St. LA created him and WE suffer the consequences.

  5. chicago sam
    Jan 19, 2020, 8:22 pm

    impact fees have been used in a couple of Idaho counties for sheriff and jail costs and appears to me to be legal. Take a look counties.

    Also the judges need a 2 day weekend and 3 days on holidays to rest up but jailers and police are on duty 24/7. As a result their is a backup of people to be processed on Monday. Night court and a judge on duty could help alleviate the bulge in admissions but Sen. Lakey doesn’t seem a bit concerned.
    As to the cost of housing most jails are near $100/day but the State only pays $65 to reimburse the county.–Probably should take some of them up to the Statehouse and lock them in over the weekend.

    EDITOR NOTE–They just turned out one for their own didn’t they?

  6. A. Non E. Moose
    Jan 20, 2020, 12:14 am

    Fun fact: Idaho Code 20-607 allows the counties to seek reimbursement or any expenses incurred by the county in relation to the charge or charges for which a person was sentenced to a county jail.

    Hmm, sounds like this is not being done and it needs to double from $25 to $50 a day. Judges should make this mandatory at sentencing and it should be enforced and paid to the jail or rather the sheriff. Housing should also apply to those who bond/bail out whether it was just 20 minutes or the weekend, etc.

    If Judges worry about the overcrowded docket they should bring back the lay judges Idaho once had.

  7. Canyon County will never get the mega jail with 97% cells built outside of town on the Pond Ln. property. When they come to the realization the people who are going to pay for this have a say in where and how many beds get built. To that end, it will also take the replacement of the Sheriff and Comms. Dale and White. They will never get $187 million for a new jail.
    Also, I am glad to see all parties agree it costs around $100/day to keep people in our jails and prisons. We have far too many people in jails and prisons for petty crimes.

  8. Chicago Sam: If possible, could you provide some details for which counties have implemented the collection of impact fees for use toward jail costs. I am interested in knowing more about this option.

  9. Concerned Neighbor
    Jan 20, 2020, 1:54 pm

    Tents. In the desert. Electronic everything – automate detention. Reduce the cost by half or more.
    Add the 666 plan – 6 days a week, 6 hours training then 6 hours work. Keep them busy and actually rehabilitate them.
    Brazil implemented a small but good idea – reduce sentences by 4 days for each book read and 1 page report written. The recidivism rate for those that participated was half compared to those that didn’t.

  10. Dave Kangas
    Jan 20, 2020, 1:59 pm

    Past decisions are starting to cost taxpayers quite a bit, not to mention the social costs and issues.

  11. chicago sam
    Jan 20, 2020, 2:10 pm

    XX My information is derived from the internet and I am not an attorney so here goes.
    Impact fees are described in Idaho Code 67-8208 and my reading describes what they can be used for as “capitol Improvements” so I believe that can and should cover a wide range of projects.
    Teton County in their impact fee ordinance -title 6 Chapter 9 mention a Dispatch Center, Sheriff Facility’s, Office, and jail facility’s in their ordinance

    Kootenae County in their ordinance list the sheriff’s department, county jail and EMS systems as participating Districts and County Departments. I have not looked at amounts collected and the ordinances cover all construction in the county’s.

    The city of Nampa in addition to a major revision about a year ago is looking to implement impact fees for wastewater. In fast growing counties, in my opinion it is an under utilized method to fund growth but it is becoming the “hot topic”. Just make sure not all of the impact fee committees are dominated by self serving developers. In addition an inflationary adjustment should automatically be added yearly to account for rising costs.

  12. Thanks Chicago Sam for the details. I see that Idaho Code for impact fees specifies “Public Facilities” as the following list, of which it looks like the 2 counties you mentioned are collecting and using their fees under the sub-category of public safety facilities.

    67-8203(24) “Public facilities” means:
(a) Water supply production, treatment, storage and distribution facilities;
(b) Wastewater collection, treatment and disposal facilities;
(c) Roads, streets and bridges, including rights-of-way, traffic signals, landscaping and any local components of state or federal highways;
(d) Storm water collection, retention, detention, treatment and disposal facilities, flood control facilities, and bank and shore protection and enhancement improvements;
(e) Parks, open space and recreation areas, and related capital improvements; and
(f) Public safety facilities, including law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and rescue and street lighting facilities.

    Sure seems like schools should be on this list as a public facility.

    The Idaho Code states that the purpose of impact fees is to ensure that adequate public facilities are available to serve new growth and development. Based on the current situation in Boise, many would agree that the current impact fee structure and expenditure is failing this stated purpose of the law.

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