Jim Jones: "We Were Wrong" About Idaho's Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws

Feb 26, 2019

An Idaho House committee heard testimony overwhelmingly supportive of changing some of the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws around drug trafficking Monday.

The testimony came from the families of those who are addicted to drugs – and even the former top law enforcement official in the state.

Jim Jones was a former Idaho attorney general and Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court.

Jones says he was “maybe doing a little bit of penance” by sharing that he and another former attorney general, Wayne Kidwell, used to support these tough sentencing laws.

“We kind of thought that judges were not being as tough as they should be. But, you know, quite frankly, things have changed and we were wrong,” Jones says.

He doesn’t think mandatory sentences are deterring any drug trafficker from doing business in Idaho.

But that’s not what Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsbury says.

“Many people know that Idaho has some of the strongest mandatory minimums and that if they are caught dealing narcotics, they will go to prison and that is what keeps Idaho safe,” Kingsbury says.

Kingsbury is also the president of the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association. ICPA and several other law enforcement lobbying groups are angling to bury the bill where it stands. The committee expects to continue the hearing on Wednesday.

The same proposal overwhelmingly passed the Idaho House last year but died in a Senate committee.

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