What is a rider?
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IDAHO FALLS — What does it mean when EastIdahoNews.com reports someone convicted of a crime is sentenced to a rider?
A person given a rider means the court has retained jurisdiction over the offender, who is sentenced to a period of incarceration in an IDOC facility, according to the Idaho Department of Correction. The individual is then placed in the appropriate facilities to receive intensive programming and education. Once an offender completes the rider, the court determines to either place them on probation or sentence them to incarceration.
“It puts them in prison for a period of time so they can have quicker access to treatment,” said Ashley Dowell, chief of prisons at IDOC.
District Judge Bruce Pickett said judges approach sending someone on a rider on a case-by-case basis. Pickett says those placed on a rider are given a normal prison sentence; however, a judge retaining jurisdiction over that case is able to monitor the person in an IDOC facility up to 365 days. He said if the offender does well with treatment, a judge will then bring them back and see if they will be placed on probation or placed back into prison.
“I often say this to people: ‘The reason why you are sent on a rider is that there is a problem,’ whatever that is,” Pickett said.
He said often those who commit crimes need structure in their lives, and the rider program allows them to gain that. Offenders receive help on things ranging from budgeting to courses in anger management. For example, if someone with a drug addiction comes to court they often need “clean time” to overcome addiction.
Pickett said sometimes local jail is enough to correct an offender’s problem. However, some offenders need more education and programming than can be given in a local jail or probation. He also said those placed on a rider need more help than getting probation right away, but sending them to prison without these programs will not.
“In practical terms, the court begins a defendant’s sentence at the time of sentencing but holds off finalizing that sentencing order until after the retained jurisdiction in order to make a proper decision,” said Bonneville County Prosecutor Daniel Clark.
Dowell, the prison chief, said those who have the possibility of being released sooner get priority to treatment programs.
“There is a benefit to the community in cost,” Dowell said. “It costs a lot more to incarcerate a person for years instead of six months.”
Pickett said the community is benefited by the rider program because when released, the person has been able to overcome the criminal activity that put them there in the first place.
“I have seen it be successful,” Pickett said.
He said having a centralized program is more effective at treating offenders — and it’s cheaper for taxpayers.
So far in 2018, 89 percent of riders complete programming and are placed on probation, with the additional 11 percent sent back to incarceration, IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray said.
From July 2017 to July 2018, 2,411 people in Idaho were placed on a rider, according to IDOC data.