Here in the mini-cassia area citizens of our community have been serving up to 12 months supervised misdemeanor probation, simply because they failed to renew their drivers license, or their dog got loose in town.

Pretty terrible crimes right, surely there must have been drugs involved (heavy sarcasm), because during those 12 months, not only are you required to pay $60 a month cost of supervision, but you are required to drug test twice a month, at $12 a test, even though your crime was not drug or alcohol related, totaling more than $1,000 in addition to the original fines and fees.

During those 12 months, you are not allowed to leave the 5th judicial district without your probation officers permission. That’s right, before you decide to drive to Pocatello or Boise, you better make sure your probation officer has given you permission, failure to do so could lead to a probation violation and or jail time.

During those 12 months, you can not change your martial status, quit your job, or change your residency without your probation officers permission. Failure to obtain your probation officers permission could lead to a probation violation and or jail time.

Some time after January 2012, cassia county increased the required amount of urine for drug testing from 25 ml to 40 ml, then started throwing probationers in jail because they could not meet the new required amount, counting it as failure to provide, leading to probation violations and or jail time. Basically it is now a crime because your body works differently than others.

And if you drink a little extra water before your drug test, because you’ve had trouble meeting the new required amount in the past, you might be accused of diluting your sample, even though no traces of drugs of abuse are found in your system, and could lead to a probation violation and or jail time.

During those 12 months, you are also subject to unwarranted, unsupported by cause searches of your person car or home. That’s right, because you failed to renew your drivers license or your dog got loose in town, not only do you face many possibilities of being thrown in jail, as listed above, you are stripped of your most sacred constitutionally protected rights.

The mini-cassia misdemeanor probation policy and procedure manual specifically states one of the reasons that these searches may be conducted “if the Officer believes that a search would increase the likelihood of continued compliance of the terms and conditions of the court order.” That’s right, haven’t done anything wrong, your are in complete compliance of the terms and conditions of the court order, doing your very best, but they can still come in tear your house apart in one of their unwarranted unsupported by cause searches, just to make sure you continue to stay on track.

Here’s the best part. A large number of people on supervised misdemeanor probation, were placed there because they could not afford to pay fines and fees in full on or before the day they are sentenced. Basically the courts are using probation as their own personal collection agency, and have brought back debtors prisons, because if you can’t afford to pay your monthly cost of supervision or your drug tests fees, you are subjected to probation violations and or jail time, even though the courts have not determined you have the ability to pay, yet you refused.

Here’s the catch, and how the courts have justified everything listed above. They get the offender to agree to these conditions by giving them an average of 30 to 60 days in jail if they choose to opt out of probation, even for first time failure to renew their drivers license. Basically, sign here or spend the next two months in an iron cage, simply because the county did not receive their $45 drivers license renewal fee.

Signed, a concerned citizen of cassia county.

(2) comments

Ken

Thanks for bringing this to the attention of the readers. There is a national movement to bring the sentencing/bail system into the 21st century. People that can't afford an expensive attorney are the ones usually caught up into this system. It also targets people of color and is used as a way to keep them economically depressed. There are two effects of this system that have long-lasting effects. The main one is in depression the ability of folks targeted from gaining a proper education and maintaining good-paying jobs.

People that are unaware of the differences in the misdemeanor vs felony probation might be surprised to find that felony probation is many times easier to successfully complete in Minidoka/Cassia County. And here is the reason why: felony probation officers (in my experience) actually want folks to succeeded and move on with their lives.

It might seem on the outside that a misdemeanor probation officer looking for any reason they can find to put folks back in front of a judge for victimless crimes like failing to renew your driver's license in time is somehow a benefit to society but let's get real...it's pretty ridiculous.

Ken Swearingen Rupert

Injustices

It’s a shame that our elected public officials sit back while this kind of persecution and oppression is bestowed upon the citizens of our community. Even when you bring these problems before the proper authorities, the people that have the power to change things, they look the other way, because doing the right thing would cut into the projected annual revenue. Misdemeanor probation should not be harder than felony, yet it is.

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