Tucked into Gov. Butch Otter’s budget is a request of $2.25 million for Idaho Department of Correction to hire 24 additional probation and parole officers — a 12 percent increase in the number of officers who supervise Idaho’s 15,000 adult felons on probation or parole.
When Kevin Kempf took the helm as prison director two years ago, one of the first things he did was cut 15 jobs — almost 10 percent — and move them to the front lines of probation and parole, where they are needed most. The goal is to find more ways to work with felons in the community and not warehouse them in prison cells.
“We felt it was necessary to do the reorganization of Central Office two years ago before we went to the Legislature and asked for more help. We’re at that point now,” said new prison director Henry Atencio, who was deputy director at the time.
The prison board appointed Atencio director in December after Kempf resigned to become executive director of the Association of State Correctional Administrators.
“We asked for the additional 24 officers to strengthen the probation and parole division,” Atencio said.
The department now has 196 probation and parole officers.
Probation usually occurs in lieu of prison time; parole is early release from prison. When offenders violate the terms of their release, they could be returned to prison.
“These officers will help keep Idaho safe by supervising probationers and parolees who are working to turn around their lives and become law-abiding citizens.”