Residents concerned over planned CRC in Kootenai County

The Idaho Department of Corrections wants a community re-entry center in Kootenai County. It’s a place where people who are close to release from prison can go and get help for an easier transition back to freedom. The response has been mixed.

It’s all in early stages, and it appears that’s where a lot of concern is coming from – the uncertainty they’re feeling from DOC.

4 News Now reached out to the Coeur d’Alene police chief for comment, but our calls were not returned.

The Kootenai County Sheriff said he supports a program that would help people coming out of jail get the support they need in the community, but not from people outside of his county.

“You need the local people, their families are here, their support groups are here. I don’t think it helps to bring people from other parts of the state,” said Sheriff Ben Wolfinger, Kootenai County.

A Kootenai County man organizing Wednesday night’s meeting said he doesn’t trust DOC.

“I don’t think that the DOC can provide adequate supervision or support for these people in our community. It’s evident by the results. We are failing them,” said John Grimm, a Kootenai County resident.

According to Idaho DOC, this proposal is still in development. Nothing is concrete just yet. There’s no word on where this center would be or if they would build a new facility or expand a building already in the county. DOC said it’s looking into realtors locally to help them with that.

A community re-entry center, also known as a CRC, is a residential facility. There are already four centers in Idaho. There are two in Boise, one in Nampa, and one in Idaho Falls – serving nearly 500 people.

CRCs are staffed by correctional officers who work 24/7 to enforce the CRC rules. The center proposed for Kootenai County would be all-male. And for now, they’re unsure of how many people it would hold.

DOC told 4 News Now a CRC is for minimum security offenders only. That means these are people with no sex-related convictions and no history of trying to escape custody. DOC said if they do have a violent crime on their record, they have to be evaluated and approved by the head of the re-entry facility. Inmates have to be within 18 months of their release date to stay there.

When someone stays in a CRC, they are going to be working providing service to their community. They would also pay a fee to live at the CRC. This is on top of their taxes, child support – if any, restitution, and court fees. DOC said CRCs save money for taxpayers compared to jails.

DOC did send me a statement in response, saying they’re not proposing bringing inmates in from other parts of the state. These are going to be people already in north Idaho.

Grimm arranged a community meeting at the Coeur d’Alene resort Wednesday night. Nearly 300 people were expected in attendance.