September 20, 2019

3/1/2019 – Rep. Rubel’s bill for mandatory sentencing reform advances (House Bill 99)

HB99, my bill which would reform mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses by giving judges more discretion in sentencing, passed from committee and will be voted on by the full House on Monday. This one has strong bipartisan support – we’ll see what happens on the Floor.

2/20/2019 – Reforming mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders (House Bill 99)

As many of you know, I have been trying for years to reform mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders. The goal is to give judges the power to craft appropriate sentences while freeing up dollars for roads, education and drug treatment – huge dollars are currently spent jailing nonviolent addicts, with little if any deterrent effect. Since mandatory minimums were passed in 1992, our drug rate per capita has gone up 710%. Check out this chart:

February 20 Criminal Justice Chart

Our current plan does not seem to be working, and we heard not long ago that Corrections wants $500 million to build more prison space to house these folks. I am sponsoring HB99, a bipartisan bill that would allow judges to deviate from mandatory minimums where required to avoid manifest injustice. It will be heard at 1:30 pm on Monday February 25 in the House Judiciary Committee – public testimony is welcome.

2/8/2019 – Video: Rep. Rubel discusses reforming mandatory minimum sentencing with “Idaho Reports”

2/5/2019 – Article: “Bill introduced to relax mandatory minimums for drugs”

  • Article Link: “Bill introduced to relax mandatory minimums for drugs”
  • Excerpt: A bill to relax mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking was introduced into the Idaho Legislature on Tuesday. The House Judiciary committee voted unanimously to introduce the bill, which is being sponsored by Reps. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls, and Ilana Rubel, D-Boise. It would leave the current sentencing guidelines in place but strike the word “mandatory,” letting judges impose shorter sentences if they feel following the guidelines would result in an injustice or isn’t necessary for public safety.

1/22/2019 – OP-ED by Rep. Rubel – “Idaho must reform its draconian drug sentencing minimums”

  • Article Link: “Idaho must reform its draconian drug sentencing minimums”
  • Excerpt: The bill for Idaho’s failure to seriously address our prison problem is about to come due, and it’s a big one: $500 million. That’s the cost of a proposed state prison expansion. What’s worse is that Idaho will have to issue bonds for the project, which means we’re on the hook for principal and interest.The causes of Idaho’s prison problem are well beyond the scope of this column. However, one of the big factors is the failed war on drugs. Our prisons are bloated with nonviolent drug offenders caught up in mandatory minimum sentences, which have proved to be costly, ineffective and a danger to our communities.

1/21/2019 – Rep. Rubel re-introducing bipartisan legislation to reform mandatory minimum sentencing

Last week, Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Burdick told the Legislature, “the courts realize there are better ways to handle criminality than building bigger jails and prisons.” We also recently learned that Idaho is 3rd in the nation for portion of the population incarcerated or on parole, and a large portion of our imprisoned population is comprised of non-violent drug addicts. Before session, the Dept. of Corrections announced they would need $500 million to build more prison space. Because such an expense would take away from school and road funding, I think we need to take a hard look at our incarceration practices. I plan to re-introduce bipartisan legislation to reform mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders, which passed the House last year with a large majority but did not get a vote in the Senate. Here’s an article I wrote with my GOP co-sponsor describing the bill. I’ll need help from the public to convince the Senate Chairman to give it a hearing and get it passed. Please respond to this email if you’re willing to help advocate.