Idaho’s prison population down but probation sees big growth

Idaho’s prison population is shrinking, thanks to reforms created through the state’s Justice Reinvestment project.

But the probation and parole population is expanding dramatically, and that’s got the officers in charge of monitoring those offenders struggling to balance limited resources, large caseloads and increased responsibilities.

The problem is compounded in Ada County and the rest of the 4th District Court region, where judges typically sentence offenders to probation terms that are about 2 years longer than the rest of the state.

Idaho Department of Correction deputy chief of probation and parole Terry Kirkham said his division needs resources to properly manage the growth.

The state hopes to limit caseloads to 50 offenders per probation officer, but the current average is 70 and many probation officers handle 90 to 100 cases.