Week ending March 8, 2015

PRISON RELOCATION

Bill requiring full Legislature to vote on new prison site passes committee by Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

“A bill requiring the full Legislature to vote on the site of a new state prison and creating a new commission to oversee the move that includes the executive branch was approved Friday by a House committee.”

Compromise emerging on how to pick a prison site by Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Gov. Gary Herbert and the Legislature would decide if the Draper prison is relocated and where a new one is built under a compromise that received unanimous support Friday in a House panel.”

DEATH PENALTY

Firing squad bill passes Senate panel, prompts proposal to reconsider death penalty by Katie McKellar, Deseret News

“A bill to reinstate Utah’s firing squad as a backup execution method easily passed in a Senate committee Monday. The bill advances closer to becoming law, but not without the committee making an official motion to submit a request to take up the issue of the death penalty after the legislative session.”

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

After Tweaks from Prosecutors, Criminal Justice Reform Bill  Passes Utah House by Eric S. Peterson, City Weekly

“A bold and sweeping criminal justice bill stressing community treatment beds over gray bars and barbed wire for non-violent offenders was voted favorably out of the Utah House by a near-unanimous vote Tuesday. But that wasn’t before prosecutors wrote some changes into the bill.”

Sen. Mike Lee concerned about America’s growing prison population by Jennie Christensen, Cache Valley Daily

“Over the last 30 years the U.S. prison population has increased tenfold and this fact is of great concern to Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah. Lee believes the mandatory minimum sentencing has had a great deal to do with this and he says the ballooning prison population has brought a huge financial burden.”

OPINION

Utah can move past ‘lock ’em up’ prison mentality by Rep. Eric Hutchings in The Salt Lake Tribune

“I have had the privilege of serving on the committee that oversees the budget for the judiciary and public safety in the Utah Legislature for 14 years. Over that time I’ve witnessed repeated failed attempts to reform and improve our criminal justice system — changes known to improve public safety and positively impact lives.”

Bill to make drug possession a misdemeanor reverses from past negative get-tough policies, The Deseret News

“The sponsor of a bill that would make drug possession a misdemeanor in Utah describes it as “an epic shift” in the criminal justice system, which is not an overstatement given the magnitude of change it would bring.”

Draper is still best site for Utah Prison by Joshua Randall in The Salt Lake Tribune

“Like a train that has lost its brakes, the relocation of the state prison from Draper to an as-yet-to-be-named site barrels forward, fueled by the anticipation of developers and legislators. Ignoring the results of their own study, they chant, “Move! Move! Move!” The study clearly indicated that the current location in Draper fit all the needs that a new site should.”

STORIES OF INTEREST

Study: Minnesota’s drug courts continue to lower recidivism and jail costs by David Chanen, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Minnesota’s specialty drug courts continue to significantly reduce recidivism and lower incarceration and its related costs for drug court participants, according to a study released Monday by the state’s judicial branch.”

Why Conservatives’ Prison Reform Plans Won’t Work by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, The New Republic

“At the close of last year, in an interview with the Wichita Eagle, conservative mega-donor Charles Koch announced he would push for criminal justice reform in 2015. … So the focus shouldn’t be on slashing spending, but improving the lives of people before, during, and after prison.”

These 2 Things Cut Crime, Prison Recidivism Rates in Half, Says Criminal Justice ‘Champion’ Gov. Sam Brownback

“Appearing as a guest speaker on a criminal justice reform panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback explained how Kansas’ provision of mental healthcare and private mentors for its prisoners have played a significant role in cutting the state’s prison system recidivism rate in half.”

Oregon Groups Say Modest Sentencing Reforms Have Cut Prison Population Growth by Amelia Templeton, Oregon Public Broadcasting

“A coalition including district attorneys, sheriffs, and justice reform groups is asking the legislature to triple funding for the Justice Reinvestment grant program. The program funds services like parole, drug treatment, transitional housing, and mental health.”

OPINION: Sentencing reform overdue in California by Sal Rodriguez, The Orange County Register

“In 1994, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 184, the “three strikes” initiative. The measure, supported by 72 percent of voters, requires individuals previously convicted of serious felonies to be sentenced to longer prison terms. The initiative required a de facto life sentence following the third felony conviction.”

ON FACEBOOK

kidseat

Our Law Enforcement Bureau is leading a campaign within the Department to support KidsEat, a program aimed at ensuring that no children at the Boys & Girls Club of South Valley ever go hungry.

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