Week ending Feb. 22, 2015

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Criminal justice bill proposes ‘epic shift’ in treatment of offenders by Lisa Riley Roche, KSL/Deseret News

“Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said his criminal justice reform bill introduced Wednesday that includes making drug possession a misdemeanor will result in an “epic shift” in how the state treats offenders.”

New Utah prison-reform bill would reduce drug penalties by Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Drug offenses would carry a smaller penalty. Probation officers could reward as well as punish. Whenever possible, the mentally ill and drug addicted would be shuttled into treatment rather than a cell. Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, described HB348, released Wednesday, as “an epic shift” in the way Utah manages lawbreakers.”

“Once in a Generation” Criminal Justice Reform Bill Announced by Eric S. Peterson, City Weekly

“Most everything that was said at the Wednesday-morning press conference about a bill to essentially reinvent Utah’s criminal-justice system was essentially old news. That emphasis should be on community treatment beds over prison beds; that drug addicts and the mentally ill should not be treated the same as hardened criminals; and that prison should not be a warehouse for nonviolent offenders who have nowhere else to go.”

Criminal justice reform bill officially introduced at Utah Capitol by Glen Mills, Good4Utah

“The criminal justice system in Utah could be in for a major makeover. A proposal to make that happen was introduced Wednesday at the Capitol. Sponsors say House Bill 348 is a once in a generation chance to address the exploding prison population in our state and make our communities safer.”

Landmark legislation would revamp Utah’s criminal justice system by Cathy McKitrick, Standard Examiner

“Utah lawmakers [and] corrections officials unveiled landmark legislation Wednesday that will shift the focus of criminal justice to treatment rather than incarceration in the case of nonviolent offenders.”

One Thing Republicans and Democrats Are Starting to Work Together On (and it’s Not War) by Zoe Carpenter, The Nation

“Could this be the year that lawmakers really begin to dismantle the system of mass incarceration that they have been building for decades? It seems conceivable, thanks to a surge in interest from elected officials at the state and federal level, as well as an “unlikely” coalition of left- and right-wing groups that announced its formation on Thursday.” [Utah mentioned]

Guess Who’s Working Together On A Factor in Mass Incarceration? by Lynette Holloway, NewsOne for Black America

“In what could be a boon for communities of color, Democratic and Republican Senators from New Jersey to Illinois to Utah are working to overhaul prison sentence guidelines in an effort to give judges more control to mete out punishments for nonviolent drug offenders.”

PRISON RELOCATION

Committee approves resolution calling for Utah workers to build new prison by Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

“A joint resolution calling for the state to use Utah workers to build a new state prison was approved Friday by the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee.”

Central Utah won’t see a new State Prison by Doug Staples, MidUtahRadio.com

“The Utah state prison re-location committee has been debating for weeks on where to relocate the Utah State Prison in Draper.”

OPINION

Prison reform package would be a great step forward, The Salt Lake Tribune

“There’s a word for people who do what feels good now, even though they are, or should be, fully aware that what they are doing will have long-term negative consequences for themselves and others. Actually, there are two names. One is ‘criminal.’ The other is ‘tough-on-crime politician.’ But now there is a significant opportunity for Utah’s political leaders to start engaging in the kind of long-term thinking that honest people, and good governments, are known for. By being smart on crime.”

Justice Reinvestment legislation a step in the right direction, ACLU of Utah

“Rep. Eric Hutchings and Sen. Stuart Adams today unveiled their legislation based on several criminal justice reform recommendations made last November by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ), informed by data collection and analysis by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project.”

The Roadblock to Sentencing Reform, The New York Times

“For more than a year, members of Congress have been doing a lot of talkingabout the need to broadly reform harsh federal sentencing laws, which are a central factor in the explosion of the federal prison population. It’s an overdue conversation, and one of the few in which Democrats and Republicans find some agreement — but, so far, they have nothing to show for it.”

When officers fall, we must pick up their families, The Salt Lake Tribune

“When it comes to personal safety, police officers and firefighters are not average government employees. When danger happens, they are the ones who run toward it, not away from it. That helps make it obvious why they deserve more survivor benefits.”

Redirect the prison, don’t move it by Pamela Romney Openshaw in the Daily Herald

“How would you like to save a cool three-quarters of a billion dollars? That kind of change would rattle nicely in pockets around the state. We can do it. All we have to do is leave the Utah State Prison where it is.”

STORIES OF INTEREST

BU professionals teach inmates business skills for future jobs by Amanda Yarger, Baylor Lariat

“Orange is the new green for Baylor business students and prisoners in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. The Baylor Business Network sponsored an event Tuesday at The Elite Cafe to spread awareness about the program and to recruit volunteers, donors and business plan advisers. Volunteers in the program meet with prisoners at either of the program sites in Cleveland or Venus, Texas, and assist them in learning entrepreneurial skills that can help the prisoners in the job market upon being released.”

Holder favors moratorium on lethal injection by Kevin Johnson, USA Today

“Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that a national moratorium on lethal injection “would be appropriate” until the Supreme Court completes its latest review of the execution process as part of a case initially brought by Oklahoma death row inmates.”

Criminal justice bill offering funds for treatment programs head to full House by Kristine Guerra, IndyStar (Indiana)

“The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday passed a bill that aims to reduce recidivism by providing millions of dollars in annual funding for substance abuse programs and mental health treatment for local communities.”

States are less likely to reform “three strikes” laws if they use them regularly and have higher levels of prison privatization by Matthew Cravens and Andrew Karch, The London School of Economics and Political Science

“Between 1993 and 1995, twenty-four states adopted “Three Strikes and You’re Out” laws.  The laws impose lengthy sentences on individuals convicted of a third serious crime, most commonly a mandatory life sentence without parole.  Three Strikes laws epitomize the “tough on crime” approach that dominated criminal justice policy in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. ”

Urban Institute Completes Third Employee Survey at Virginia Department of Corrections

“The Virginia Department of Corrections has undergone a major cultural shift in recent years, transforming into a research-based organization aggressively focused on offenders’ successful reentry back into their communities. Results are now in showing the success of efforts to combat recidivism and increase public safety through a new environment at the VADOC. ”

Governor Proposes $64 Million Prison Expansion and Reentry Plan by Sarah Whites-Koditschek, UALR [Arkansas]

“Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced a $64 million plan to address overcrowding at the state’s prisons. At a press conference Wednesday, Hutchinson said he would open nearly 800 prison beds, hire new probation and parole officers and create alternative sentencing and reentry programs for some of the state’s roughly 2,500 inmates held in county jails.”

Broken Bad: A funding dispute puts Utah’s inmate horse-gentling program out to pasture by Robyn Van Valkenburg, City Weekly

“Each morning, as the sun rose over the Wasatch Plateau in central Utah, Adam Wilson and 14 other men would pile into a rusted gray van that took them past a razor-wire fence and up a hill to corrals brimming with wild mustangs, steam rising from the steeds’ proud heads.”

ON YOUTUBE

bubblesheephoto

If only making change were as easy as filling out a bubble sheet — the order form inmates use to purchase items from the Commissary. Then again … maybe it IS possible to think about change as simply a matter of choosing from a menu of items: a new attitude, a new heart, a new soul, a new man. That is the idea behind this Con-Quest dorm’s winning monthly motivational chant. Take a look!

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