In an effort to improve the state’s prison system in general, the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) began a detailed review of all state corrections and criminal justice data and created a comprehensive set of evidence-based new policy recommendations to decrease recidivism, hold the offenders accountable, and ultimately control prison growth overall. These revised recommendations are expected to decrease prison growth by up to 2,551 inmates over the course of 20 years, which could avoid an estimated $542 million in unnecessary corrections spending.
Additionally, the CCJJ recommends that a percentage of these significant savings from corrections spending could be diverted to useful programs for communities, to support advanced treatment options, fortify community supervision, improve services related to reentry, and reduce some of the responsibilities put upon local jurisdictions.
As 95 percent of the offenders are released back into our communities after completing their sentences, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Program (JRI) is specifically focused on impacting criminal behavior for the improvement of communities and public safety.
JRI’S Stated Goals For Reduction Of Recidivism
- Maintain prison beds for primarily serious and violent offenders
- Increase and improve probation and parole supervision
- Enhance and expand all offender reentry and treatment services and programs
- Coordinate resources to meet the specific needs of offenders
- Work to support the local corrections systems
- Guarantee oversight and comprehensive accountability
Considering The Long-Term Solutions
JRI’s goal is to develop and implement long-term solutions to the ever-increasing public safety problem in our society, and it’s carefully considered and reviewed policies will make an impact for years to come. These types of data-derived, evidence-based criminal justice reforms have significantly improved the corrections system across the board in many states, but it bears noting that a thorough reorganization and overhaul such as the JRI delivers may take some time to produce its full and intended effect.
Considering My Previous Conviction On A Felony Drug Possession, Could My Charge Be Automatically Reduced To A Misdemeanor Due To The Legislature’s Revisions That Altered The Level Of Many Drug Charges In The Year 2015?
Utah’s criminal laws were reviewed and some significant changes did occur during the 2015 legislative session. As a result, many felony drug possession charges were reduced to the misdemeanor level.
CRITICAL UPDATE: The legislature amended Utah Code 76-3-402 in 2017 to include new language that reads as follows: “the court shall consider as a factor in favor of granting the reduction that, subsequent to the defendant’s conviction, the level of the offense has been reduced by law.” This new language further outlines, supports, and helps to solidify the argument that any felony conviction for drug possession or other kinds of offenses that have been reduced by the legislature should now be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Legislative Reduction As It Applies To Utah Drug Offense Levels
According to past laws, most if not all possession charges for drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and various other prescription drugs started at a third-degree felony level. With specific enhancements in a case-by-case situation, the levels of these offenses could possibly be raised to an even higher level. However, with the implementation of the new law, most drug possession charges will now only start at the misdemeanor level.
The old laws convicted literally thousands of people at the felony level for crimes that, today, will now be considered only misdemeanors. As the change takes effect, a new community discourse is evolving in the consideration of whether a person who was convicted of a felony for simple drug possession in the past should still be burdened with the “convicted felon” label and all of its detrimental associations.
For more information on The Justice Reinvestment Initiative Program, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 455-1743 today.