Idaho prisons director seeks 7 percent budget boost

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho's top prison official asked legislative budget writers on Wednesday to approve a roughly 7 percent budget increase, with much of the money going to fund beds and services for the state's growing prison population and to revamp the state's computer system for tracking inmates.

If approved, the Department of Correction's budget would reach $264.4 million for the fiscal year beginning this July. That compares to about $247 approved for the previous fiscal year.

Idaho Department of Correction Director Henry Atencio told members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee that the state's prison population is expected to reach about 8,500 inmates by this summer. That estimate includes expectations that roughly 700 prison inmates will be housed in county jails, and another 190 or so will be sent to out-of-state prison during fiscal year 2019.

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