Idaho's prison population continues to keep pace with the rest of the nation. However, the correction's budget threatens to topple spending on education and health and welfare.
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The forecast for Idaho and the rest of the nation is gloomy and continued huge investment in prisons. The only exception is New York, which is closing prisons as its incarceration rates decline.
Idaho's prison population has increased over 900% since 1970 while the general population has increased 105%. The implications of the dominant sentencing policies should be troubling to policy makers and citizens alike. First, what are we receiving in return for our investment? The crime rate is low, and continues to decline, but for demographic reasons as opposed to sentencing policy. The other troubling aspect is the impact on the budget. Several states have already seen correction budgets eclipse spending on higher education. The Idaho legislature will be faced with a grim reality - raise taxes or cut spending in other areas.
Is this the future we want for Idaho? Have policy makers made the connections?