Week ending Nov. 14, 2014



Utah governor unsure about reducing drug offenses to misdemeanors to lower recidivism by Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune

“For the last several years, the Utah State Prison has become a revolving door for some non-violent inmates: They enter, serve their time, leave the prison walls and end up incarcerated once again after re-offending or violating their parole. Utah’s Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice is looking to change that.”

Utah commission approves proposals, including making drug possession a misdemeanor by Ben Winslow, Fox13 Utah

“A commission has approved a sweeping series of criminal justice reforms, including a proposal to make simple drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony.”

Justice commission: Drug possession should be a misdemeanor by Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

“The Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice unanimously approved a series of proposed reforms Wednesday intended to reduce prison population growth, including making drug possession a misdemeanor.”

Utah leaders unveil prison system reform proposals by Michelle Price, The Associated Press (in Beaumontenterprise.com)

“Utah’s criminal and juvenile justice commission on Wednesday unveiled [a] package of recommendations to cut costs and the inmate population in Utah’s prisons, including a proposal to make first-time drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony.”


“Congrats to UDC Sgt. Carl Muniz for being named the Utah Crisis Intervention Team Officer of the Year! The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Utah (NAMI Utah) presented the award to Sgt. Muniz Friday at the 9th Annual NAMI Utah State Conference.”


Life and Liberty by Lois Collins, Deseret News

“The dog is about 39 pounds, low to the ground and well-muscled, her fur a mottle of patches and spots. At a guess, she’s a heeler mix, a shelter refugee, maybe 4 years old. Her name is Liberty, a word that means something to each person whose life intersects hers…”


Opinion: Utah’s parole board’s power warrants greater transparency by Jean Hill and Roderic Land, The Salt Lake Tribune

“The Utah Legislature has done a commendable job trying to implement greater transparency in most government processes. Unfortunately one of the areas where little transparency still exists is one with profound impacts on human lives: the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.”


Utah teen who killed brothers facing new charge in adult court by Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune

“The Utah teen who pleaded guilty earlier this year to murdering his two younger brothers is facing new charges in adult court for allegedly assaulting another teen in a juvenile detention facility. Aza Ray Vidinhar, 16, was charged Friday in Ogden’s 2nd District Court with third-degree felony assault by a prisoner.”

Judge sentences drunk driver to prison by Cache Valley Daily

“A 26-year-old Smithfield man has been sentenced to prison for driving under the influence. Kyler McCulloch appeared in 1st District Court Monday after previously pleading guilty in July to a third-degree felony.”


Jailhouse Roundabout: Advocates worry Good Landlord programs cause an unending cycle from prison to the streets and back into the big house by Eric S. Peterson, City Weekly

“About a year ago, Toshiba Richards experienced what she now calls a blessing, though she didn’t recognize it as such at the time. In the grips of a methamphetamine addiction, Richards had been on the run for months, with multiple warrants out for her arrest, and had decided she would not go back behind bars—at least not for long. … But she didn’t have her pills when she finally was arrested—and that was the miracle that brought forth the unusual blessing of time in prison.”

Oklahoma’s invisible inmates by Jessica Miller, Enid News & Eagle

“Behind Oklahoma prison walls are hundreds of prisoners whose information can be accessed easily by the public through the Department of Corrections offender lookup website. What members of the public may not know is 83 housed inmates virtually do not exist, at least not in open records.”

No Mercy: Utahns will keep paying $28K a year to store Rolf Kaestel by Colby Frazier, City Weekly

“When Election Day came and went the first week of November, a blip of news on television screens in Arkansas had deep consequences for a man sitting in a prison cell in Gunnison.”

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