They are growing rapidly in huge numbers. Utah’s jails and prison populations continue to skyrocket. It is not just a trend in Utah. It is also a national problem. Inmates serving time for sex crimes, drug crimes and violent crimes are packing the general prison population with no end in site. While they are paying their debt to society, there is a deeper question. Is the prison system doing anything to help inmates become better people? What happens when these inmates are paroled? Are they prepared to blend in with society?
The Impact of Utah’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative
In 2015, the State of Utah started the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a series of programs designed to reduce the incarceration rates throughout the state and also saving money for taxpayers. The program places an emphasis on rehabilitating prisoners and preparing them for life in regular society. JRI also allows low risk offenders, such as those with chemical dependency issues, to receive treatment in the community. Prisoners would also be exposed to greater educational programs.
While critics may question the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a turning point may be coming soon. In 2020, a new state-of-the-art prison will soon open in Salt Lake City that promises to be different than any other correctional facility in the state. Among its unique design features are smaller units set on two floors. Each cells is angled to capture sunlight from large windows along with transparent doors to replace the standard grey steel bars. Aside from aesthetics, the 4,000 bed facility will also have innovative educational and occupational programs. While the state’s old school prison in Draper concentrated on warehousing inmates with just a few token rehabilitation programs, the new prison. Interaction between guards and inmates will also be different. The new direct supervision format allows direct interaction with inmates allowing guards to resolve issues before they can escalate. By allowing more interaction, guards and prisoners are able to get to know each other personally helping to break down the natural emotional walls. According to past experiments, it has proven effective to reduce the amount of violence and sexual assaults in most prison facilities.
Normal Life vs. Institutionalized Life
One of the criticisms of Utah’s prison system was its inability to prepare inmates for reentry into normal society. The new Salt Lake city prison will place a higher emphasis on inmate rehabilitation by simulating normal life situations as much as possible. By providing smaller units, natural light and colors, the goal is to help improve the mental and emotional state of inmates. Another innovation is giving prisoners more of an opportunity to interact with nature. The curriculum is patterned after the Snake River Correctional facility in Oregon.
Have You Been Accused of a Crime? A Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Nobody wants to spend time behind bars–especially when you are wrongly accused of a crime. If you have been accused of a felony, it is vital to seek representation from a team of Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys with a track record of protecting the rights of each client. The legal team at White & Matern, PLLC utilizes an aggressive and comprehensive approach to help place clients in the best position to succeed. To learn more, contact their Salt Lake City criminal defense law firm and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.