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Proposed bill could change the way we look at criminal justice in Idaho

Idaho

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BOISE — New legislation could be a “game-changer” for criminal justice in Idaho by creating one central location for the Gem State’s crime data.

The Criminal Justice Integrated Data System Act, House Bill 320, was introduced to the Idaho House of Representatives Tuesday by Rep. Caroline Troy, R-Genesee. If passed, the Idaho State Controller’s office would create a data system that will link data across Idaho’s criminal justice entities. The data will be used to better understand the effectiveness of Idaho’s criminal justice system.

“In all honesty, I think this has the potential of being a game-changer in evaluating our criminal justice system,” Idaho Criminal Justice Commission Director Eric Frederickson told EastIdahoNews.com.

The Idaho Criminal Justice Commission has worked on crafting this bill over the last four to five years. Idaho is one of seven other states that still does not have a centralized criminal justice data system.

Frederickson said that the different criminal justice agencies such as the Idaho Department of Corrections and the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections have a significant amount of data about those who are coming in and out of their facilities. However, that data is essentially stuck in each individual agency.

“The goal of the legislation is to integrate (the data) so agencies can drop this data off at one central storage place. And we’re able to better track what programs we’re using, what’s working, what’s not working,” Frederickson said.

He gave the example of two young people being sent to juvenile corrections. After they are both let out, one individual goes on to commit other crimes and ends up at IDOC while the other one becomes a law-abiding citizen.

By being able to access that data, criminal justice agencies will be able to see what programs are working and which ones aren’t. They would be able to see what programs the two individuals received or didn’t receive.

“It’s a chance to combine all the siloed data that’s already out there and figure out what’s working between the agencies and why certain things are working and why certain things are not,” Frederickson said.

Government agencies would also be able to request reports to be run using the data. Any agency that contributes data to the system would have priority in requesting reports.

Frederickson said any reports generated through this system will be available to the public through public information requests.

The legislation would also create a Data Oversight Council made up of officials throughout Idaho’s criminal justice system and government. That council will oversee the use of the data and have the final say on what reports are generated.

According to the bill’s statement of purpose, it will cost an estimated $298,800. That breaks down to $100,000 in operating expenses and $198,800 for personnel expenses.

The bill is currently up for debate inside the House Judicial Committee.

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