McGee to be released this week after good behavior

McGee to be released this week after good behavior
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Former Republican Sen. John McGee is due to get out of jail Saturday, five days before his originally-scheduled release date because jailers say he's behaved while behind bars.

McGee, from Caldwell, had been sentenced to at least 44 days in jail on Aug. 21 after pleading guilty to charges linked to allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by a female state Senate staffer.

But Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney's office wrote to 4th District Court Magistrate James Cawthon earlier this month, requesting McGee be released early from the facility in Boise. Cawthon agreed to commute a portion of McGee's sentence for disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor.

"While an inmate in the Ada County Jail, he had a good record and performed all assigned tasks in an orderly and peaceable manner," wrote Chief Deputy Ada County Sheriff Ron Freeman.

McGee still must fulfill terms of a separate probation-violation conviction, in which Cawthon in August gave him the option of performing county labor duties.

Idaho prison inmates must serve fixed sentences and haven't received "good time" credit since the 1980s.

But state law allows those serving time in county jails like McGee to have their detention reduced by five days for every month of their sentence, upon request of the local sheriff.

McGee's treatment isn't out of the ordinary.

Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman for the Ada County Sheriff's Department, said it's not uncommon for inmates who comport themselves appropriately while incarcerated to win an early release.

"We do about 30 to 40 a month," she said Tuesday. "It's a behavioral management tool we use for all of our misdemeanor inmates without any disciplinary problems. McGee had none. That's a requirement for them to be eligible for this time reduction."

When the 39-year-old McGee exits jail, his life will have changed considerably since he ascended to majority caucus chairman the No. 4 Senate post in 2011.

The four-term GOP senator's legal troubles began on Father's Day that year, when he was arrested for drunken driving and taking a stranger's vehicle after an evening of drinking at a golf tournament in Boise.

He pleaded guilty to the DUI, while the felony car-theft-related charge was dropped in a plea deal.

Though he held onto his Senate leadership position after surviving a no-confidence vote in January, he quit the chamber just weeks later in February after being accused of sexual harassment by the female employee, who worked in his fourth-floor legislative office in the Idaho Capitol.

He's since paid the staffer at least $960 in court-ordered restitution, in addition to having to cover more than $1,500 in court costs.

The four-term lawmaker and father of two also lost his job at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, where he was the hospital's marketing director.

While in jail, McGee has been sequestered from the general population, part of efforts by jailers to keep him safe due to his former position and the public attention his legal travails received.