Week ending Oct. 4, 2015



WATCH: Here is a link The Pew Charitable Trusts’ webcast on Utah’s criminal justice reform efforts, which featured Gov. Gary R. Herbert; Executive Director Rollin Cook; Ron Gordon, executive director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice; Rep. Eric Hutchings; U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee; and Jake Horowitz, policy director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project.

New initiative creates incentives for Utah prison inmates to get out early by Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

“Utah prison inmates could be released at least four months early for finishing programs state officials say are shown to help keep them from committing crimes after they get out.”

Utah law reducing sentences for certain drug crimes goes into effect by Pamela Manson, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Landmark changes in Utah’s criminal-justice system will go into effect Thursday with the aim of reducing recidivism and slowing prison growth.  HB348, or the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, reduces sentences for certain drug crimes and diverts more offenders to community-based treatment so they can stay connected to their families and support networks.”

New state law aims to channel many drug offenders from prison to treatment by Molly Marcello, Moab Times-Independent

“The final rollout of Utah House Bill 348 — the “Justice Reinvestment Initiative” — will begin Oct. 1, bringing significant changes to Utah’s criminal code and justice system. The legislation reduces all first- and second-time drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors and provides $11.9 million for community-based drug treatment programs.”

Hatch Joins Utah Leaders in Promoting Criminal Justice Reform Efforts by Utah Policy.com

“Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke at an event at Pew Charitable Trusts alongside Utah leaders on the topic of criminal justice reform. Senator Hatch’s remarks focused on the need for a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that considers a variety of inputs and focuses on evidence-based practices. He also described three problems that federal criminal justice reform must address.”

Getting Smart on Crime: Conservatives Discover Prison Reform by Anne-Marie Cusac, The Progressive

When John Turner left Walker State Prison in Georgia in early August, his wife gave him a new set of clothes. He put them on and looked at himself in the mirror. “This is me for the rest of my life,” he thought, vowing never to return to wearing prison stripes. When we talk three days after his release, Turner is thrilled about his newfound freedom. He likens it to “going into a different world.”


Poll: Public not behind Utah prison move by Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Most Utahns don’t believe state leaders made the right call when they decided to build a new prison west of Salt Lake City International Airport, according to a new poll. But state Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, who helped lead that effort, says the results are largely irrelevant.”


Is convicted killer innocent? Group says so and asks for DNA  testing by Pat Reavy, Deseret News

“Adrian Gordon has been in prison since 2002 after a judge convicted him of murdering a man behind a Salt Lake 7-Eleven store.”

New inmate policies coming at state prison, advocates say changes cannot wait by Brian Mullahy, KUTV

“Controversy over the planned Utah State Prison move is well known — less publicized are moves apparently happening right now inside the prison over a contentious issue known as “restrictive housing.”

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act Summary, Senate Judiciary Committee

Bipartisan group of senators agrees on criminal justice reforms by Timothy M. Phelps, The Los Angeles Times

“After months of wrangling, a bipartisan group of senators will announce a compromise criminal justice reform bill Thursday morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said.”

The U.S. has six executions scheduled over the next nine days by Mark Berman, The Washington Post

“During his visit to the United States last week, Pope Francis used an address before Congress — one of the most high-profile platforms from which the pope could speak to this country and its leaders — to call for an end to the death penalty. In the two weeks following the pope’s remarks, five states plan to execute six death-row inmates, a burst of lethal activity the country has not seen in more than two years.”

Judge Allows Class-Action Suit Over Mississippi Prison Conditions by Timothy Williams, The New York Times

“Inmates at a privately run Mississippi prison where, they say, guards arranged for prisoners to attack one another, ignored fires set by inmates to signal distress, and allowed prisoners to trade whiskey and cellphones will be permitted to file a class-action lawsuit against the facility, a federal court judge ruled this week.”

No Crime Spike After Calif. Prison Overhaul by Nick Cahill, Courthouse News Service

“Four years after overhauling its prison system, California’s prison population has decreased and violent crime has not spiked, according to a study released by the Public Policy Institute of California.”

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