As your editorial points out, there are a number of options that the federal and state governments can choose to alleviate our nation’s overincarceration problem without jeopardizing public safety. Essential to any comprehensive reform is sentencing reform, including repeal of one-size-fits-all mandatory minimums.
Fortunately, many forward-looking states have already begun to reform these unjust and cost-prohibitive penalties. Over the last year, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island have repealed or narrowed their most egregious mandatory sentencing laws. Still more states across the country are seeing bipartisan majorities work together to pass fiscally responsible reforms that keep our communities safe.
Idaho is not among the list of forward-looking states. It continues to build its prison population with less money. Last year the state added 500 more inmates but cut $28 million in funding. The next few years are destined to be worse. State officials act like prison population projections are etched in stone. But nothing could be further from the truth. Idaho could take steps to reduce its prison population without jeopardizing public safety. But such a move would require vision and a dose of reality, which are sadly missing at this point in time.