Week ending Feb. 1, 2015

PRISON RELOCATION

House speaker steps down from prison relocation commission by Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

“House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, has stepped down from the Legislature’s Prison Relocation Commission, citing how busy he is in his new leadership role.”

Herbert wants to keep looking at prison relocation possibilities by Jennie Christensen, Cache Valley Daily

“The issue of relocating the Utah State Prison is an issue that still needs to be looked at according to Utah Governor Gary Herbert. During his monthly Let Me Speak to the Governor radio broadcast last week, Herbert said the need is not just for a different location but rather the existing prison is out of date.”

New prison site not expected to be named during 2015 session by Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

“The controversy over where to relocate the Utah State Prison isn’t likely to be settled during the 2015 Legislature.”

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REINVESTMENT

Two-pronged Utah prison debate: moving it, locking up fewer drug users by Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Supporters of moving Utah’s prison out of Draper hope the state Legislature will answer two questions in the coming weeks: How to fund a new prison and how to slow the growth in the inmate population.”

Utah Supreme Court justice calls for criminal justice reform in State of Judiciary address by Katie McKellar, KSL.com

“During his State of the Judiciary speech Monday, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant asked legislators to address three distinct issues of criminal justice reform, including the recommendation of a salary increase for judges.”

UTAH BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLE

Utah woman ‘so sorry’ for teen baby sitter’s death, but victim’s mother questions sincerity by Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune

“It’s been five months since Dea Millerberg was sent to prison for helping hide the body of her teenage baby sitter, Alexis Rasmussen, after the girl died from a drug overdose at Millerberg’s North Ogden home. It’s unlikely she’ll be released anytime soon, a Utah Board of Pardons and Parole officer told her Tuesday, saying that she may have to serve five years — the maximum sentence — for her crimes.”

IN COURT

Utah Supreme Court: Disruptive, threatening inmate forfeits right to appeal attorney by Stephen Hunt, The Salt Lake Tribune

“A convict serving a life sentence for killing a Utah corrections officer, has forfeited his right to a court-appointed attorney due to his disruptive and threatening conduct toward multiple lawyers who have been trying to help him with his appeals, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Friday.”

OPINION

Utah should avoid secular thinking that comes with firing-squad bill by Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University, in Deseret News

“For Christians, nothing is more central to their theology than the notion of atonement, or the means by which Jesus Christ reconciles human beings to God.”

Letter: Pay prison workers better, wherever they are by Karla V. Kelly, St. George 

For many reasons, Eagle Mountain not right for a prison by Heidi Balderree, member of “No Prison in Eagle Mountain/Saratoga Springs” and “Keep It In Draper”

“Eagle Mountain is one of the fastest growing cities in the state, yet is predominantly a bedroom community. It lacks jobs and capital investments to sustain its phenomenal growth.”

Snow: Smarter use of correctional funds by Rep. Lowry Snow, The Spectrum

“One of the driving forces behind the decision to move the Utah State Prison from its present location is based on projected population growth requiring an additional 2,700-new beds to house prisoners over the next 20 years.”

STORIES OF INTEREST

New Phoenix team tackles recidivism of those with mental illness by Megan Cassidy, The Arizona Republic

“Jeremy Reed’s client isn’t where he said he would be. Not five minutes before this became apparent, Reed had spoken to him on the phone while driving south toward downtown Phoenix. … Reed, a case manager at Community Bridges, is part of a 13-person team that provides what’s known as “assertive community treatment” to those with serious mental illness.”

MS Prison Industries faces audit by Emily Le Coz, The Clarion-Ledger

“Legislators warned Mississippi Prison Industries Corp. officials on Monday to get ready for an audit less than two years after a PEER report that had questioned the program’s effectiveness.”

State program aims to reduce recidivism by WRTV (Indiana) 

“More than one-third of people who are released from Indiana prisons end up returning within three years. A new program is aiming to cut that rate down with education and individual attention for first-time offenders.”

How to Stop Revolving Prison Doors with Books by Alice Hu, Harvard Political Review

“Education reduces crime. This connection seems like common sense, and indeed it has been researched, analyzed, and affirmed countless times. According to a 2007 collaborative study by Columbia University, Princeton University, and City University of New York, higher education reduces the crime rates of both juveniles and adults by impacting social behavior and economic stability.”

Prison task force told to reduce recidivism, use community corrections by Mary Sell, Times Daily (Alabama)

“Alabama’s state prisons were built for about 13,300 inmates but now hold about 26,000 prisoners. It will take a variety of prison reform measures and some additional construction to get the prisons’ capacity number to a more acceptable level, officials said today.”

Group to examine Tennessee sentencing laws, recidivism by The Associated Press

“A task force formed by Gov. Bill Haslam meets Thursday in Nashville to examine Tennessee’s sentencing structure and examine ways to reduce the state’s high recidivism rate.”

Killer says his ideas influenced family suicide by Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press

“Kristi Strack and Dan Lafferty struck up an unusual relationship behind prison walls a decade ago.”

The Pardon Process is Inherently Unfair by Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a national sentencing reform organization.The New York Times

“For the last 24 years, Families Against Mandatory Minimums has advocated for clemency on behalf of federal and state offenders who received overly harsh sentences that are disproportionate to their offenses. While our work stops when a prisoner goes free, the prisoner’s work has only just begun. “

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