Week ending Sept. 19, 2014

PRISON RELOCATION

State Prison to Box Elder County? by Tim Gurrister, The Standard Examiner

“Officials here have a mixed reaction to the news that Box Elder County is among six counties in the running for a relocated Utah State Prison. Some are ready to embrace the economic lift that might result from the up to 500 jobs in receiving the 700-acre main prison compound, with its need to purchase water, power, and other utilities for 4,000 inmates. Others say it doesn’t make sense for Box Elder. ‘Take them out to the west desert and you don’t need to put up a fence,’ quipped Box Elder County Commissioner Stan Summers. “Where are they going to go?'”

UTAH STATE PRISON

BYU football behind bars: Offering words of inspiration to inmates by Andrew Adams, KSL TV

“Ahead of Saturday’s home game against Virginia, more than half of BYU’s football team found itself behind bars Friday night as players offered words of inspiration and hope to inmates at the Utah State Prison.”

Prison inmate dies following fight by Michael McFall, The Salt Lake Tribune

“A Utah State Prison inmate died Saturday night after corrections officers broke up a fight between him and another inmate. Officers saw Christopher Lee Lucas, 25, and another inmate fighting in a cell and told them to stop, but the orders were ignored, according to a prison news release. The officers then used pepper spray, and as the officers walked Lucas out of the cell, he collapsed.”

SENTENCING

Martin MacNeill gets 15-life for the murder of his wife by Ashton Edwards and Ben Winslow, Fox13

“Martin MacNeill, convicted of killing his wife so he could carry on an affair with another woman, was sentenced to serve up to life in prison Friday. A judge ordered the 15-to-life sentence to be stacked on top of other crimes the former doctor committed, including obstruction of justice and forcible sex abuse. Altogether, MacNeill faces a minimum of 17-to-life behind bars and a maximum of 45-to-life.”

Trial set for inmate accused of murdering cellmate by Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune

“A trial was scheduled Wednesday for a prison inmate accused of murdering his cell mate last year. Steven Crutcher, 33, is charged in Manti’s 6th District Court with first-degree felony aggravated murder for the death of 62-year-old Rolando Cardona-Gueton.”

Sex offenders driving up Utah’s prison population by Marissa Lang, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Prison populations around the country have been in steady decline for the past 10 years. In Utah, it’s a different story. The number of men and women in the state’s prison system has continued to rise, with the highest drivers being nonviolent criminals and sex offenders, who are staying longer and taking up more beds than ever before, according to data collected by the Pew Charitable Trusts.”

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, says his bill aimed at reforming sentencing policies for nonviolent drug offenses would save the federal government more than $4 billion over a decade. You can read the release here.

IN COURT

Utah suspect in cannibal case should have been behind bars by Marissa Lang, The Salt Lake Tribune

“The bullet that lodged in Joseph Oberhansley’s brain made him calmer, less violent, more mellow. He regretted the drug-fueled madness that led him to shoot his girlfriend to death days after she gave birth to their son. He would be a better man. He would stay away from drugs, from violence, from prison. Or at least that’s what he told the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole during a 2004 hearing.”

Prosecutor: Suspect was freed on lowered bond before murder by Gordon Boyd, WAVE 3 News Indiana

“Convicted killer Joseph Oberhansley was facing new felony charges when police allege he murdered his girlfriend, Tammy Jo Blanton, in her home late Sept. 10 or early Sept. 11. But Clark County’s chief deputy prosecutor says Oberhansley should have been in jail, and might still have been had not a fellow prosecutor agreed to reduce his bond.”

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

New report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics looks at how examination of “organizational accidents” in criminal justice system might help improve the system overall. You can download the “Mending Justice: Sentinel Event Reviews” here.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Prison populations increased in 2013 for the first time since 2009, according to the latest analysis by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Utah’s prison population increased 1.6 percent, with an increase in female inmates largely driving those numbers. You can read the press release here and download the full report here.

Home Free? by James Surowiecki, The New Yorker

“In 2005, Utah set out to fix a problem that’s often thought of as unfixable: chronic homelessness. The state had almost two thousand chronically homeless people. Most of them had mental-health or substance-abuse issues, or both.”

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