Ada County, ID

Summary

Ada County has made a significant investment in jail diversion, enhancing community-police relations, and establishing quicker in-custody case processing. Notable initiatives include participation in Phase II of the National Institute of Corrections’ Transition from Jail to Community initiative to improve reintegration services through system change and collaborative relationships among jail and community partners. In addition, the county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council has led work aimed at improving pretrial processes, court calendaring, inmate flow in the courtrooms, and the standardization of certain sentencing decisions.

To build on past efforts, Ada County was awarded $1 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2017 to implement strategies that address the main drivers of the local jail population that would be better served by receiving treatment or working in the community.

To continue reducing the jail population safely, the county plans to implement several new strategies aimed at implementing systemic changes, including the creation of a pretrial assessment tool for judges to get a better understanding of how much risk someone charged with a crime presents to the community; streamlining case management and services and expanding non-jail options for lower-risk offenders. This will include an increase in community outreach to local African American and Native American communities to help reduce racial and ethnic disparities in our jail population, and working closely with the State of Idaho’s new Ada County Behavioral Community Crisis Center to focus on providing support for populations with disproportionate jail use.

  • Lower-risk offenders are overrepresented in Ada County jails and are in need of alternative pretrial release programs.
  • Pretrial release and length of stay are main drivers of the jail population. The jail pretrial population alone was 57 percent in 2016. In 2016, 32.5 percent of all low- and low-moderate-risk defendants remained detained beyond three days, spending an average of 56 days in jail.
  • Overuse of detention causes disruption in the stability of arrestees’ families and communities; it leads to higher re-arrest rates; and produces worse case outcomes with more back-end incarceration. 
  • To continue reducing the jail population safely, Ada County plans to implement several new strategies aimed at implementing systemic changes, including meeting the needs of those with behavioral health issues, streamlining case management services, and expanding non-jail options for lower-risk offenders.
  • The county will also implement enhanced strategies focused on pretrial intervention — including an assessment that judges can use to measure risk to the community.
  • The State of Idaho is opening a new Behavioral Community Crisis Center in Boise, which will provide support for people suffering from mental illness or substance abuse issues – a segment of society that has a disproportionately high population in jail. Ada County is working closely with the State of Idaho to ensure that the center will be able to serve as many citizens who need it as possible.
  • Local law enforcement will work on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the jail by doing increased community outreach in our African American, Native American, and Latino communities.

Supported with $1 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge, Ada County will implement forward-looking, smart solutions, to further reduce the local jail population by 15% to 19% over the next two years.

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