Proposal could save $500 million, reduce prison growth to almost zero

SALT LAKE CITY – The Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice announced Wednesday a comprehensive set of data-driven recommendations for the upcoming legislative session that will reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable and save taxpayers an estimated $542 million by averting almost all of Utah’s projected prison growth over the next two decades.

The CCJJ’s proposed recommendations would:

  • Focus prison beds on serious and violent offenders
  • Strengthen probation and parole supervision
  • Improve and expand reentry and treatment services
  • Support local corrections systems
  • Ensure oversight and accountability

View the full Justice Reinvestment Report.

Responding to a request from Gov. Gary R. Herbert, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, House Speaker Becky Lockhart, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant and Attorney General Sean Reyes, the CCJJ engaged in a seven-month study of Utah’s corrections and criminal justice systems. The commission analyzed data, evaluated policies and programs used in other states, reviewed research on effective ways to reduce recidivism and developed comprehensive recommendations.

The CCJJ is a diverse group of criminal justice stakeholders, including representatives from corrections, the Legislature, the judiciary, the prosecutorial and defense bars, as well as behavioral health and victim advocacy organizations.

While Utah maintains a relatively low imprisonment rate, the state’s prison population has grown 18 percent since 2004 – six times faster than the national average. Without reform, Utah’s prison population is projected to grow an additional 37 percent in the next 20 years at a cost of more than $500 million, according to consultants for the Prison Relocation Commission.

This population growth and resulting taxpayer costs will make it harder to fund already under-resourced crime prevention and response strategies including victim services, drug treatment, mental health services, and a probation and parole system that combines focused supervision with swift and certain responses to violations.

The CCJJ estimates its recommendations, if adopted by the Legislature and fully implemented, would avert 98 percent of the anticipated prison growth, resulting in cumulative savings of $542 million in prison construction and operating costs.

It is time we stop cycling inmates in and out of prison,” Gov. Herbert said. “The CCJJ has provided an expert roadmap to improve public safety by keeping violent and career criminals behind bars, putting the appropriate resources into alternatives for nonviolent offenders, and ensuring our citizens get the best possible results for their tax dollars. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations thoroughly.”

Key CCJJ findings include:

  • Utah’s prison population increased 18 percent since 2004 and is projected to grow 37 percent over the next two decades.
  • Prisoners are spending, on average, 18 percent longer in prison than they did 10 years ago.
  • Nearly half of all offenders leaving prison return within three years.
  • Probation and parole violators make up two-thirds (67 percent) of admissions to prison.
  • 62 percent of offenders sentenced to prison for new crimes were convicted of a nonviolent offense.
  • Last year, more offenders were sentenced to prison for drug possession than any other crime.

Utah is a leader in using research and data to drive policy. We have worked hard to manage our state efficiently and we must now apply the same approach to our criminal justice system,” Niederhauser said. “I commend the CCJJ for their effort to chart a possible course ahead and provide transparent analysis that will be a springboard for legislative discussion and sound policy decisions.”

“The CCJJ has spent more than seven months pouring over research and analyzing our corrections data to develop these recommendations,” Durrant said. “We are pleased to see this hard work result in policies that will move us closer to delivering on our twin goals of crime control and justice.”

“Public safety is always our first priority and this plan more than meets that test,” Reyes said. “It will apply proven sentencing and corrections practices to ensure that dangerous offenders are off the street and that we do a better job stopping the revolving door for those whose crimes are driven by addiction to drugs.”

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14 Comments

  • My Evil Twin November 12, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Yawn. This has been addressed ad nauseam across the country. It is just more political BS to try to make the voter think the politician really gives a darn and wants to help anything. Trust me, they don’t! All they care about is getting re-elected next time around.

  • Zonkerb November 12, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Holding criminals accountable.. really.? is that the plan… LMAO. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

  • chupacabra November 12, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Legalize it already!!!

  • Native born New Mexican November 12, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    At some point they have to stop jailing people. It can’t be afforded by the tax paying public. Also it ruins the lives of those being jailed. Making a felon out of a young person just starting out in life marks them for life. The law makers are to blame for a good part of this. Thing after thing is made unlawful and not just made unlawful but made into a potential felony conviction. Finally you only have two groups of people – those being jailed and those doing the jailing. Jailing people is a huge money making industry at the expense of the tax payer and the fines and fees taken from the inmate and his family. People in the jailing industry are not productive citizens. They don’t build anything, they don’t teach anything and they don’t contribute skills and talents for the benefit of the community. My view is that most people who participate in the jailing industry, I am talking judges, prosecutors, jail staff etc. couldn’t produce anything useful if they had to. That is why they are in the jailing industry. How dumb is it to lock a wage earner and tax payer in jail for months or even years at a time for some petty violation of a ridiculous law and then pay a whole group of other people high tax payer supported wages to convict him, send him to jail and keep him there. what a waste! Violent offenders and only violent offenders should go jail. No more warrant sweeps by law enforcement looking for traffic violators to jail and steal money from every weekend so they can keep the jail full and themselves in a job.

  • Melda November 13, 2014 at 4:27 am

    Brilliant! I think this is a great idea. What have we got to loose? According to the statistics and research it sounds like this plan could work.

  • Observer November 13, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Watch closely to see if the newly passed Prop 47, Prop 30 and AB109 (realignment) in CA will actually help reduce recidivism before voting on anything a politician states.
    Key words in all the passed props were “public safety” and Prop 30 was believed to be for the schools, and it passed because most voters “forgot” to read the fine print at the end where it stated “funds” could be used for “public safety”. Prop 47 is too new to give an opinion on, but it allows theft under $950 (including a gun) to be a misdemeanor as well as most personal drug use. Question: Will the money really go for evidence based programs to rehabilitate the offender, or back into the politician’s pockets while the community deals with more crime.

    If someone would compare Utah’s CCJJ recommendations, I’d bet they’ve taken a liking to what CA is doing, and I highly doubt it’s really because they want to see loved ones struggling with addiction all find recovery; but rather it’s a cash cow for the State corrections (CA corrections union based), counties criminal programs, etc.

    It’s like asking our American government to “Say no to drugs”; if enough research is done, one would most likely find that it’s our own government who’s behind the global drug trade, including the prescription ones. Why? Because drugs allow the government to control the people, and criminal behaviors have become the highest money maker and income for our State officials. Reminds me of a saying, “Can’t beat them, join them”. The part the human race has forgot about; there is a law of the universe and an accountability to God – I include both so it encompasses believers and non.

  • sagemoon November 13, 2014 at 8:37 am

    It’s about time Utah started listening to the facts about incarceration. Thank you, CCJJ, for convincing Utah it is time to try modern corrections techniques. Now to get all the various prosecutors and judges on board. I worry they will not want to change.

  • Walter November 13, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Just keep on importing more immigrant criminals from Central America. I’m sure they will mend their ways when the arrive here in Utah.

    • Dana November 14, 2014 at 6:18 am

      You think crime is only a Hispanic problem? Your racism is showing.
      Matthew Terry Graff, theft from clients;
      Nathan Brent Esplin, theft from employer;
      Shandon Gale Young and Katina Marie Young, defrauding businesses and individuals:
      Tyler Seth Goodman, robbery, weapons charges as well as impersonating a police officer.
      This is a very short list of AMERICANS who are caught up in criminal activities. Crime isn’t a Hispanic problem. It’s society’s problem. How we deal with it is more of a reflection of those of us on the outside of the penal system, rather than the inside.

  • Brian November 13, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Here’s my 3 step plan to reduce the prison population, or at least reduce the burden on society: 1) Make sure the food is incredibly basic, just enough to sustain life (that is all the Constitution guarantees). 2) Make 100% of services (tv, internet, library, gym), yummy food, etc purchasable by points. Points are non-transferable between inmates to avoid them being used as currency, black market, coercion, etc. 3) Give the inmates productive ways to earn points that benefit society (clean up trash on the side of the road, generate electricity on a bike or other gym equipment that gets sold back onto the grid, build modules used in housing for veterans, etc, etc).

    • Native born New Mexican November 14, 2014 at 12:02 am

      Brian is it OK if we jail you and try your ideas out on you? I am sure you would love the experience. If you don’t think you want that done to you then maybe you shouldn’t be suggesting that those things be done to others. You have no idea what really goes on in jail and all the different stupid reasons people get locked up. We need to put some prosecutors and judges in jail and use your treatment on them. Maybe that would change their attitudes a little. However some people never learn.

  • Observer November 14, 2014 at 8:11 am

    There is a program that Utah should look into that would not only benefit the taxpayer, but give the inmate a better way to pay his/her debt to society. That would be to follow CA’s Cal Fire inmate firefighting program. Once again though, a close eye on the corrections and state officials, as they are inclined to “like” the program because it utilizes the lowest level offenders, and the last thing taxpayers want is to start the revolving door, for some of the silliest charges (some of which I’ve read about on here), while others that should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, were not.

    The state and county officials need to start separating church from state, a constitutional offense, and unless it’s a solid blue law, it’s time to get up to speed or ACLU is going to love taking taxpaying money in civil rights lawsuits.

    Locally, the good ole boy’s club needs to be dismantled. Any conflicts of interest with attorneys (city, state, and private) and the Judges need to be addressed, and the parties (who all have a law license) need to recuse themselves even if it means moving the case to another county. There have been many cases locally that this shoe would fit. This same shoe would fit in the local city offices as well.

    In closing, I give a parable about white collar crime: Orange is the new black (ties and all).

  • Jonathan L. Peterson July 14, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Our prisons are filled with drug law violators. Those laws have been with us for generations. If we could only use all the facts on hand? Most of us would know they violate citizen equality so they cannot be constitutional.
    Here we are putting citizens in prison for not buying Gov. use permits from private business venture. That is why our drug laws are not fair or just they created a monopoly with special powers going to an educated class of citizen.
    This is the legal ground to end our unjust drug monopoly war.
    I filed the legal proofs with both Utah Supreme Courts & US District courts:
    those judges so far have chosen not to give an opinion.
    They need the help of the news media to give up their expert opinion.
    Read it and show it to St. George News Legal team…….Ask them and watch their behavior. It will be clear the proof is now filed with the courts.
    If drug inmates did other crimes- gang or rico, tax evasion, etc. they must stay.
    But if their only crime was to refuse to buy use permits from private citizens. THEY BROKE NO REAL LAW. Just a false unconstitutional law that made slaves out of every citizen but doctors of medicine.
    Truth and it will set us free…………Portugal released 77% if its (drug convicted )prison population (2003-4) and they did not go back to commit other crimes. the same Recidivism as the rest of the population(5-6%).
    So other beliefs are just self -deception: to protect status quo operations.
    That is the truth of it. I study human logic and behavior and this is why we can’t use the facts on hand for our logic and beliefs.
    Go to https://twitter.com/CivilRights/status/614471544761413632 & you can see many of the filed documents.
    also many other sites including Sen. Lee, Sen. Hatch & LDS.
    We are responsible for 200,000 murders of men, women & children South of border over our drug prohibition and can’t understand it is because we don’t defend citizen equality. Blinded by our instincts.
    https://twitter.com/SenOrrinHatch/status/609087400988524544
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stories-from-Utah-State-Prison/696794973677646?fref=nf
    https://twitter.com/acluutah/status/610809560668966913
    https://twitter.com/SenMikeLee/status/61894912621090816

    https://twitter.com/MormonNewsroom/status/608757922378584064
    https://twitter.com/MORMONorg/status/601861146887360512
    https://twitter.com/MormonNewsroom/status/614443637812801536

    I serve God & constitution or I could not write the truths of our reality.
    Sincerely,
    Jonathan L. Peterson
    Behavior Research for Humanity llc
    (3670 S. Red Maple Rd.) Salt Lake City, UT 84106 ph.208-650-1346 jlp1997@msn.com @jonnyricola

    • Jonathan L. Peterson July 14, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Filed, notarized & signed copies went to each Utah Supreme Court Justice;
      June 4, 2015
      Utah Supreme Court Justices- Matthew B. Durrant, Thomas R. Lee, Christine M. Durham, Constandinos Himonas & Jill N. Parrish:

      “DOES OUR CURRENT ‘CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ACT’ VIOLATE CITIZEN EQUALITY?”

      1-If you believe that ‘Controlled Substance Acts’ (giving Doctors the power of government permit sales) violate equality…….
      Sign here: Name(print)____________________Sign______________________date________
      2-If you believe that ‘Controlled Substance Acts’ (giving Doctors the power of government permit sales) are lawful…………….
      Sign here: Name(print)____________________Sign______________________date________
      Proof our ‘Controlled Substance Acts’ violate equality giving the power of government permit sales to private enterprise-
      Our prisons are filled with commodity violators, based on dangerous substance use permits. Those permits are not sold by a government entity.
      They are sold by Private Business Venture.

      We violate our highest principle of democracy- Citizens being equal under all laws.
      We are evil & need to repent of the sins of our fathers did to our freedom.
      Ask our Utah Supreme Court Justices if the Constitutional proof is true?

      The ATF sells permits to buy & use dangerous controlled substances= explosives.
      Doctors sells permits to buy & use dangerous controlled substances = drugs.

      The difference is. Doctors of medicine have this Master powers of temporary permit sales:
      And Do Not Hold An Office And Get To Keep The Permit Fees.
      Private enterprise with the power of a government permit office.
      ((Any Law That Violates Equality, Outside Of Public Office Is Unlawful))
      The Truth Shall Set You Free………..
      If you have the sense to use the facts for your logic & beliefs!

      The reason you all need me to tell you the truth of our reality?
      Instinct Mechanism/(Satan)- Is protecting status quo operations for the group.
      Blinding members to the logic and supporting facts, so we don’t risk sudden changes.

      Defend our Constitution.
      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Sincerely, Jonathan L. Peterson
      Behavior Research for Humanity llc.
      3670 S. Red Maple Rd.
      Salt Lake City, UT 84106 (ph.208-650-1346) jlp1997@msn.com @jonnyricola

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