Last week I read a letter to editor concerning having offenders from North Idaho Correctional Institution providing caroling to a Grangeville rehabilitation center. The author indicated his mother really enjoyed the carolers; however, he was concerned about the criminal records and law enforcement agencies not being notified. There are numerous misrepresentations in this letter that I would like to clear.
First, these individuals from NICI were under staff escort the entire time.
Second, anytime a group of offenders is transported outside the institution that are either providing community service to the public or providing this type of pro-social interaction, an entire list of the offenders is sent to Idaho County Sheriff’s Office and to the local city police department. Next, the author calls the offenders convicts. That term has not been used since the 60’s and early 70’s when nationwide the correctional systems came under major reforms. In the 60’s and 70’s, correctional officers were referred to as guards, because that is all they did. Later, after reforms they became so much more, they became correctional professionals. Idaho Department of Correction has some of the most dedicated staff in the nation. They care deeply about offender change.
The other issue with the author’s previous letter is his sensationalizing the crimes the offenders had. I will only use one example: There is no such thing as a grand thief; it is called grand theft, which is any theft over $1,000, whether one time or in accumulation. My understanding is there was no inappropriate behavior from the offenders who provided the caroling. If there had been they all would have been removed from the outing and returned to NICI for disciplinary action. NICI for decades has provided so many positive resources to the community, by providing community services, quilts for the rehab center as well as other agencies, cleaning and so much more with no cost to the taxpayer. I spent 30 years with IDOC before retiring after 13 years as warden of NICI. I also split some of that time at Idaho Correctional Institution Orofino as their warden.
I can say that what the offenders from NICI were doing at the Grangeville Rehab Center was entirely appropriate and a benefit to the residences and offenders.