Week ending Oct. 25, 2015

UTAH STATE PRISON

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Prison pumpkins bring smiles to students with special needs, Deseret News

“Each year, prisoners participate in the Green Thumb program to plant the seeds and grow the pumpkins. Nearly three dozen participated in the program this year.”

In annual fireside, BYU football team offers hope, inspiration to prison inmates by Amy Donaldson, Deseret News

“Shame almost kept Mark Byrge in his seat. But after listening to BYU offensive lineman Ryker Mathews tell the heartbreaking story of losing his father at age 6, the American Fork man couldn’t stay silent.”

PRISON RELOCATION

Poll: Prison Relocation Not Much of a Factor in Salt Lake City Mayoral Contest by Bryan Schott, Utah Policy

“Most Salt Lake City voters say the decision by the legislature to relocate the state prison will not be a factor in how they vote come November.”

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Judicial reforms giving more discretion to parole and probation officers by Glen Beeby, Good4Utah

“Judicial reforms passed by the legislature last year have all went into effect October 1st. As a part of the program probation and parole officers have more discretion in dealing with offenders. It rewards good behavior with reduced time on parole or probation.”

Utah’s Tolman: Criminal justice reform measure isn’t ‘going soft on crime’ by Thomas Burr, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Reforming criminal justice laws to curb excessive sentences isn’t “going soft on crime” but rather a nod to the fact that locking up first-time criminals for decades and punishing low-level offenders isn’t the best solution for fighting crime, former U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman told Congress on Monday.”

OPINION: Criminal justice reform means getting smart about crime by Rep. Mia Love, The Salt Lake Tribune 

“Earlier this year, Gov. Gary Herbert signed historic criminal justice reforms into law by signing H.B. 348. The bill was the result of recommendations from the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) and was widely hailed.

DEATH PENALTY

Lawmakers consider eliminating the death penalty in Utah by Ben Winslow, Fox 13

“A legislative committee has launched a discussion about whether the death penalty should be eliminated in Utah, less than a year since lawmakers passed a bill bringing back the firing squad.”

UTAH BOARD OF PARDONS & PAROLE

Utah parole board: Elderly inmate convicted of killing husband may be sent to nursing home by Nate Carlisle, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Evelyn Christine Johnson couldn’t remember where her cell is. She had trouble remembering if she received the notice informing her of her parole hearing. She said she didn’t understand all the information in the packet the parole board sent her. She remembered fatally shooting 71-year-old Alan Lavoy Johnson in 2004, but not why.”

STORIES OF INTEREST

U.S. Senate hearing shows waning influence of police on prison reform by Julia Edwards, Reuters

“Lowering prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders appeared to have few opponents in a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing on Monday, a sign of the waning influence of police groups and unions in the debate over prison reform.”

Iowa Department of Corrections phasing out program connecting offenders with victims of violent crimes by Sarah McCarthy, KCRG-TV9

“The Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) is nearly finished phasing out a victim impact program that connected inmates across the state with victims of violent crimes in an effort to stop inmates from becoming reoffenders.”

OPINION: Reducing Recidivism in Indiana Prisons by State Sen. Jean Leising, Greensburg Daily News

“The Indiana General Assembly recently reformed Indiana’s criminal code, establishing a new system for categorizing felonies in order for courts to better match the punishment to the crime and create more certainty in sentencing. Lawmakers recognize that if you do the crime, you need to do the time. However, it’s what people do while serving their time that helps curb recidivism.”

Job training at Maryland prison may aid recidivism rates by Dakarai Turner, ABC2News

“They get locked up and eventually released, many times, only to be sent back again. Maryland’s rate of prison recidivism is the focus of renewed attention.”

OPINION: One Way to Reduce Jail Populations by Lawrence M. Wein and Merccian Usta, The New York Times

“Prison reform is getting a big bipartisan pitch. Republicans and Democrats have professed their desire to do something, and earlier this week, more than 130 police chiefs, prosecutors and sheriffs said they would push for alternatives to arrests.”

 

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