Catch and Release

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Dave Kramer Guest Opinion

Casting a perfect line, letting the fly settle smoothly on the water, enticing the trout to see a free lunch and take the bait. Well, that is something that I am still working on — my fly fishing is still at the stage of several attempts to get the line to properly lay out and connect with the water so that I don’t scare all the fish away.

But when you do get a great cast, and connect with a trout, then you can enjoy the experience of bringing the trout to the surface, enjoying the beauty of the fish and then releasing it back to the stream or river to be caught another day. “Catch and Release,” it is a great outdoors experience to a fisherman.

Law Enforcement Officers and a good portion of the public do not view “Catch and Release” as being such a good idea in the criminal justice system. On many cases, law enforcement officers have a good idea of suspects and the illegal activity that they are involved in, but it takes patience until all the pieces can be put together to bring charges against the person or persons. We know that in many cases the same person has committed multiple crimes before they are caught.

Once law enforcement officers make an arrest then it moves to the next stage with the Prosecutor and Court system to determine guilt or innocence, and if found guilty, to determine an appropriate sentence.

On a local level with the Magistrates and local probation officers the system seems to work well, with most cases of sentencing being appropriate for the crime — and an appropriate sentence and probation that is monitored by County Probation Officers that can monitor and make sure that the person is staying on the right track and not violating the terms of their probation with an emphasis on not having the person repeat the same type of criminal behavior.

On Felony cases when the person goes before a District Judge and is facing time in the State Prison or a retained jurisdiction we have seen the Prosecutor’s office argue at sentencing for state time on the felony charges only to have the person sentenced to local jail time.

When someone is sentenced to local jail time the County taxpayers are paying for the majority of their daily housing costs of incarceration instead of the State, and the person is taking up limited bed space in the jail which at times can put the facility at risk of not meeting State certification standards due to overcrowding. Once they are out of custody and placed on State probation for a felony conviction there is not much accountability as the State probation officers are limited to what checks and testing they can do. It is in my opinion that the limited accountability that State Probation Officers are allowed to check on their probationers contributes to them re-offending.

Idaho is a Sportsman state, but let’s keep “catch and release” to fishing.

• • •

Dave Kramer is the sheriff of Boundary County.

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