A new report by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) confirms Utah’s criminal justice reforms are on the right track.

Over the past two years, Utah has safely lowered its prison population from 7,026 to 6,276, a decrease of 11 percent, while strengthening community supervision and increasing treatment resources in the state.

The prison population decrease is a result of Utah’s efforts to focus its relatively scarce and expensive prison space on more serious and violent offenders, while offering lower-level offenders better opportunities to succeed in their communities. Today, violent offenders make up 68 percent of the population, up from 60% in 2015, a relative decrease of 20 percent in nonviolent offenders since reforms were passed. Read the full report here: https://justice.utah.gov/JRI.   

“This data shows we’re continuing to head in the right direction for Utah’s criminal justice reforms,” said Doreen Weyland. “This progress is encouraging and shows that Utah is improving public safety through better use of prison space for more serious and violent offenders, holding offenders accountable through improved community supervision, and providing critical treatment by investing in community-based programs at historically high levels.”   

Background

Utah embraced a new direction for its criminal justice system in 2015 because the state faced the pressing challenges of unsatisfactory recidivism rates, unsustainable growth in the prison populations, and skyrocketing correctional costs. After a year of bipartisan review of Utah’s sentencing and corrections data, policies, and programs, we embraced research-based policy solutions to improve public safety.

CCJJ Second Annual Report: Key Findings

Improving Public Safety Through Better Use of Prison Space for More Serious & Violent Offenders. Utah’s criminal justice system is focusing its most expensive correctional resource—prison—on more serious and violent offenders. The prison population is 18% lower than was projected without reforms, and now contains a higher proportion of violent offenders. (Figures 17-18)

Holding Offenders Accountable Through Improved Community Supervision. We’ve adopted evidence-based community supervision practices to reduce recidivism while holding offenders accountable, and improved and expanded treatment options for appropriate offenders. Overall, we are better targeting more intensive supervision and treatment strategies toward offenders who need them most, and we’ve seen a nearly 20% increase in probationers and parolees who have Case Action Plans within 90 days of beginning supervision.

Expanding Treatment Programs to Historically High Levels. We’ve made historic levels of investment in community-based treatment options, and we’ve seen a 21 percent increase in justice-involved clients served in mental health treatment, as well as increases in the number of residential treatment beds and admissions to substance use treatment.