by Andrew Crisp
The Idaho Department of Correction unveiled a package of execution-related bills Monday before the Idaho Legislature.
"I have no issues with the technicalities of this legislation," said Boise Democratic Sen. Nicole LeFavour, but she joined fellow Democrat Boise Sen. Les Bock in voting no on the bills.
One measure would limit the legal ramifications for health professionals involved with future executions. IDOC Director Brent Reinke told members of the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee that the Gem State currently has 14 offenders on death row.
"We have members whose identities need to be protected," said Reinke, referring to medical personnel who participate in execution teams. "We do everything we can to conceal these people's identities."
Reinke suggested in a House committee hearing last week that Idaho could see another execution at early as this spring. The committee moved to print the bill.
Two other pieces of legislation related specifically to a procedural clarification on the return of the death warrant to the state once the offender has expired, and on the timeline for the state to retrieve the warrant. LaMont Anderson, also with the AG's office, called the two bills "Lessons Learned from Rhoades."
Leo Morales with the American Civil Liberties Union testified in support of the two bills considered by the committee.
"On the issue of the death penalty," said Morales, "we strongly oppose the use of capital punishment as cruel and unusual punishment. However, with the specific cases under consideration before you today, we support them."
Finally, the committee heard testimony from IDOC Deputy Warden Tim Higgins on the proliferation of contraband in Idaho's prisons. Senate Bill 1215 would create three levels of severity for contraband.
"Nuisance contraband" would include trash and excess food items, punishable within a prison setting. Level two would be a misdemeanor—for objects like tattoo or lighter paraphernalia. Lastly, felony contraband would include dangerous weapons, tobacco, firearms—and cellphones.
Senate Bill 1215 passed to the 14th order with a suggestion by Idaho Falls Sen. Bart Davis, to add an emergency clause that would make the law active upon the governor's signature. The committee moved to approve the other two bills with a do-pass recommendation, they make their way to the Senate floor.