Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lawmakers Consider New Probation Rules

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 3:50 PM

The Idaho Legislature is mulling whether to give judges more power to lengthen probation periods for offenders struggling with rehabilitation programs. Idaho Magistrate Judge Jack Varin stood before the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee to say the bill would create the ability to extend the probation period for offenders in the state's DUI/Drug Court programs.

"These individuals who participate in the problem-solving courts, once they've graduated, they should be on the road to being mended," said Varin. "Sometimes it helps having additional authority over them for any failures—I’m hesistant to use the word relapses—we might be able to head off."

Boise Rep. Lynn Luker raised concerns about the constitutionality of the proposal, asking if judges had the ability to tack on a probation period after the in-court sentencing procedure years prior.

"Is it anticipated that the authority to make this extension would be kind of a boiler plate in the original sentencing?" asked Luker.

The committee ultimately decided to print the bill, but with the motion adding an amendment to clear up language about extending probation, currently defaulted to a one-year extension.

"If that temptation comes," summed up Varin, "they have learned how to overcome it, now there may be somebody who can hold them answerable to that."

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