The Council of State Governments - WEST


June 27, 2013

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July 30 - August 2, 2013

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Idaho Launches Justice Reinvestment Initiative

By: Warren Hansen, Public Affairs Manager, 
Council of State Governments Justice Center
Idaho Governor Otter speaking at that kick-off press conference

Leaders in Idaho recently held a kickoff event to launch their "Justice Reinvestment Initiative." Justice reinvestment is a comprehensive, data-driven approach to developing and implementing policies to control corrections spending and reinvest a portion of the savings in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.


Over the past several years, the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) has helped states across the country-including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Kansas-apply this approach. The initiative is made possible by a partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).


On June 18th, Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter joined state leaders to launch an effort to avert prison growth and reduce recidivism using a justice reinvestment approach, with the goal of addressing these issues during the 2014 legislative session.


"Our corrections system is consuming an increasing share of our budget. We have a simple choice to make: continue down this path, or use data to find a smarter way to protect the public and be better stewards of tax dollars," Governor Otter said. "The help provided through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative will enable us to take a comprehensive look at our criminal justice system and learn from innovations around the country that are reducing crime and costs."


The number of people incarcerated in Idaho prisons increased 28 percent from 2004 to 2012, from 6,312 to 8,097 inmates. And while more than half of all states saw a decline in their prison populations between 2010 and 2011, Idaho's prison population grew 4 percent-one of the largest increases in the nation. Contributing to this growth is the increasing number of people failing to meet the conditions of their supervision. In 2012, more than half (57 percent) of all prison admissions were the result of supervision violations.


To support this work, state leaders established a bipartisan, inter-branch Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which includes 28 representatives from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, as well as key criminal justice stakeholders. The Working Group will be co-chaired by Senator Patti Anne Lodge (R-Huston) and Representative Richard Wills (R-Glenns Ferry).  Additionally, the Idaho legislature created a bipartisan Interim Legislative Committee composed of five policymakers from each chamber to study the state's criminal justice system using the justice reinvestment approach. Both groups will review the findings and assist in developing options for the Idaho legislature's consideration that are designed to both increase public safety and reduce corrections spending.


To learn more about the justice reinvestment in Idaho, please visit


To read Governor Otter's Press Release, please click here.

Trade Relations Between the United States & Canada

As July nears, we are reminded of special celebrations in both the United States and in our neighbor to the North. Canada Day is July 1 and throughout the United States, Canadian expats will be celebrating the anniversary of the British North America Act of 1867. Now called the Constitution Act, its enactment united three colonies into one country known today as Canada. A few days later, Independence Day is celebrated in the United States on July 4 which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Independence was declared from the Kingdom of Great Britain and while these celebrations underline the stark differences in formation of these two countries, what cannot be denied are the inextricable links of the deep relationship in economic, social and security terms.


Sometimes overlooked and often unappreciated is the robust trade relationship that exists between the United States and Canada.  It is the largest bilateral commercial relationship in the world according to Paul Mackler, CEO and President of Eagle Eye Expositions. At a recent United States-Canada border conference he said that "more than $2 billion of commerce passes to the ports between U.S. and Canada every day and the two administrations are committed to making exports more efficient while increasing security." Approximately 400,000 people cross the Canada-United States border daily. Canada was the United States' largest goods export market in 2012 according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. The top exports were vehicles, electrical machinery, mineral fuel and oil, and plastic. Canada is also the Unites States' second largest agriculture export market for fresh fruit and vegetables, snack foods, and beef. Over 8 million jobs depend on the trading relationship with Canada, and it is the top export destination for 38 states: 5 of those states are part of CSG-WEST. Click here to see trade profiles for the Western States.


Canada is the United States' largest energy supplier, more oil exports come from Canada than Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined. Recently, the first Binational Border Infrastructure Investment Plan (BIIP) between the United States and Canada was released. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security states "the development and release of this initiative fulfills a commitment made under the 2011 United States-Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan." This plan "is an inter-agency and binational planning mechanism developed to establish a mutual understanding of recent, ongoing, and potential border infrastructure investments." Specifically, "it outlines the approach that the United States and Canada will take to coordinate plans for physical infrastructure upgrades at small and remote ports of entry."


Still, more can be done. Donald Alper, Professor and Director of the Center for Canadian-American Studies & Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University, recommends:

  • Critical border infrastructure planning should be tailored to varied geographical settings, cultural dynamics, economies, and regional political assets.
  • Subnational governmental entities should drive critical infrastructure planning, but with a context of partnerships involving federal public safety entities and private sector stakeholders.
  • Neutral forums should be created to facilitate engagement of federal and subnational authorities on both sides of the border.

Through forums such as the newly created CSG-WEST Canada Relations Committee and the North America Summit V, both to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada during the 66th CSG-WEST Annual Meeting, we aim to highlight the importance of these relationships and create the platform for these discussions that will entertain these recommendations and others.    

State of the Border Report: 
Understanding the US-Mexico Border

The Border Research Partnership (comprising the North American Center for Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars - Mexico Institute, and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte) recently released the State of the Border Report. CSG-WEST partially funded this report through USAID/Mexico funds provided via a cooperative agreement. We are excited to share this current and comprehensive analysis of the U.S.-Mexico Border. The Report focuses on four core areas: trade and economic development, security, sustainability, and quality of life.


The United States and Mexico are inextricably linked. Mexico is the United States second largest export market and third largest trading partner. The two countries share numerous resources requiring a strong working relationship. We hope that this report will help encourage greater understanding of the border region and lead to cooperation that advances interests for citizens on both sides of the border.

To read the report, click here.

The mission of CSG-WEST is to facilitate regional, nonpartisan cooperation and exchange of information, and to strengthen legislative institutions among our 13 member states. These services are achieved through a variety of programs and services offered to legislators and their staff, including the convening of policy forums, professional development training, international relations opportunities, publications and institutional links with other political entities in the West.

CSG-WEST serves the Western legislatures of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Associate members include the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia and the Pacific islands of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.