Idaho to request $11M for parolee mental health services

Idaho health officials plan to ask lawmakers for about $11 million annually to provide mental health and drug abuse services to the state’s parole offenders who are at the highest risk of returning to prison.

Tom Shanahan, a spokesman with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, says the state is currently spending around $30,000 annually to serve the estimated 7,300 offenders identified with high mental health needs.

The department will make the request during the 2017 legislative session.

Shanahan says the program is part of the state’s justice reinvestment project, which began three years ago to help reduce the number of prisoners and keep offenders from committing new crimes.

The Idaho Department of Corrections says 35 percent of felony offenders will return to prison within three years of release.