Theme 4: Create Efficiencies in Correctional & Public Safety Systems

The following goals were established to create efficiencies in Utah's correctional and public safety systems by leveraging current resources, increasing competition, seeking innovative ways to reduce recidivism, and better coordinating the efforts of the State, local governments, and private enterprise.

4A. Develop and implement a strategic plan for managing prison populations

Details

Develop a strategic plan that will define how to best manage the prison population over the next five to 10 years. Among other things, the plan should include where inmates should be housed (i.e., state facilities, county jails, and/or private facilities); the proportion and type of inmates that should be housed in each type of facility; and the type of programming (i.e., education and treatment programs) that should be provided at each facility.

In addition, the plan should include an analysis of the competing correctional philosophies, a detailed review of costs, and the effect of these issues on public safety and recidivism.

Target Outcomes

1. Provide a rolling five-year projection for inmate housing needs in Utah.

2. Identify excess capacity in county jails available via contract for inmate placement.

3. Develop a five-year strategy that maximizes available beds in county jails and establishes targets for dates by which new prison facilities need to become operational.

Status

Based on the prison population projections and bed availability, the Department has developed a five-year plan, subject to funding, that maximizes the use of contracted county jail beds as well as identifies the date by which the next prison housing unit will need to become operational. This plan will be updated once annually to maintain the integrity of the linear regression projection.

Target Completion Date

July 1, 2011 (Complete)

Outcomes

The development and maintenance of the department's 5-year prison housing plan has assisted the department and state in several ways. First, it assists us in keeping an eye on demand for prison housing to ensure there is sufficient capacity to meet future needs. The department has little control over the size of the inmate population, as the courts make the initial sentence and the Board of Pardons and Parole makes release decisions. We are responsible for keeping the public safe, as well as our own staff and the inmates we hold in custody. In order to meet this responsibility, it is important to ensure there is sufficient prison capacity - which the 5-year plan provides.

Second, it is a rolling strategy for the department's budget requests related to prison capacity. The 5-year plan is not a guarantee of capacity. Via yearly projections, the department creates accurate estimates of future inmate population. These estimates have proven to be extremely accurate over the past 20 years. However, though we can accurately project the number of inmates in future years, we cannot guarantee we will receive the funding needed to address that growing population. The 5-year plan provides us a clear understanding of incremental inmate housing needs. For example, the plan focuses on utilizing available contract county jail beds through FY15, at which time these beds will be fully maximized. Our budget request for FY13 includes funding for the next incremental number of contract county jail beds the department will need during that fiscal year. When preparing for FY14, the department will make a similar incremental request.

Third, in many instances, the department's need in out years have to be addressed today. This is where projections and 5-year planning are essential. Case in point is the understanding the department will be fully utilizing all contract county jail beds by FY15, and the department will, at that time, be out of secure prison beds for the most dangerous of our population. Based on the projections and the 5-year plan, we know the state will need another secure prison housing unit operating in January 2015. This needed prison facility will take between 24 -36 months for construction, so, knowing we need it operational in 2015 means the department must have construction funding during the 2012 Legislative Session.

4B. Implement alternatives to incarceration

Details

The Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) and the Utah Sentencing Commission (USC) have partnered with the Board of Pardons and Parole, the Courts, and the Department of Corrections to study and adopt evidence-based practices in sentencing and incarceration of adult offenders. Areas of evaluation include length of stay, technical violations of probation and parole, duration of probation and parole and the use of technology.

Upon completion of this research, the recommendations should be considered and implemented, as appropriate, through policy, guideline, or statutory revision.

Target Outcomes

Reduce jail days.

Reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders.

Reduce recidivism among adult offenders by increasing the number of offenders with jobs.

Status

The Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) and the Utah Sentencing Commission (USC) have partnered with the Board of Pardons and Parole, the Courts, Salt Lake County, and the Department of Corrections to study and adopt evidence-based practices in sentencing and incarceration of adult offenders. Areas of evaluation include length of stay, technical violations of probation and parole, duration of probation and parole, and the use of technology.

  • A. The Early Case Resolution Project increases efficiencies within the criminal justice system by improving case management within the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office and decreases pre-adjudication lengths of jail stays. The contract with Salt Lake County to implement the Early Case Resolution Project was completed in February 2011.
  • B. Transition Services for Juvenile Offenders provides substance abuse treatment and job skills training to juvenile offenders upon release from structured placements in an effort to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. This project became operational on January 1, 2011. Through the quarter that ended March 1, 2011, 187 youth have been served.
  • C. In the Offender Employment Project, offenders are provided job training to increase the likelihood of finding work upon release from prison to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. The contract with the Department of Corrections for an Offender Employment Project has resulted in a 210% increase in offender employment.

Target Completion Date

Ongoing

Outcomes

Percent change in the number of offenders finding employment after the training program was begun versus the number of offenders finding employment prior to program implementation: 174.82%

Studies across multiple states/years have shown that employment upon release from prison helps reduce recidivism.

4C. Construct and open a Parole Violator Center

Details

Move as rapidly as possible to identify a suitable location for and build a Parole Violator (PV) Center. A contract was awarded to a private vendor to build and operate a center, but it was terminated after challenges locating a suitable site and the subsequent downturn in the economy occurred.

While ongoing operations funding of $7.6 million has been rescinded, the 2010 Legislature did allocate $1.7 million in one-time funding for the Department of Corrections, and authorized the transfer of $3.6 million from the existing Corrections budget, for a total of $5.3 million to renovate a suitable facility.

Target Outcomes

1. Open and operate a 300-bed center to house parolees with violations of their supervision.

2. Provide intensive and targeted treatment to address parolees’ needs while they maintain ties with employment and family.

3. Slow current prison growth by keeping many of these parolees in the community.

Status

Complete. Center will open in 2012.

Target Completion Date

April 15th, 2012

4D. Study the possibility of opening a specialized geriatric corrections facility

Details

Conduct an in-depth analysis of Utah’s geriatric/critically ill prison population and recommend changes to reduce both medical and housing costs without compromising public safety.

Target Outcomes

Provide more specialized and cost-effective care for a growing geriatric population in the prison system while maintaining public safety.

Status

Placement of some geriatric inmates into the Lone Peak facility is complete. The Department also made an agreement with a long-term care facility in Springville to begin taking qualifying geriatric inmates.

Target Completion Date

September 1, 2011

4E. Establish a standardized process for hearings to modify sentence length

Details

The Board of Pardons and Parole holds special attention hearings to modify previous decisions to reduce sentences in certain cases. Stakeholders should work to develop a standardized process to identify offenders who may qualify for special attention hearings.

Target Outcomes

1. Increase Fiscal Year 2010 special attention reviews by 20%.

2. Increase Fiscal Year 2011 special attention reviews by an additional 15%.

Status

Complete

Target Completion Date

Complete

Outcomes

FY 2009 Special Attn. Releases = 150 (Savings = $900,000).

FY 2010 Special Attn. Releases = 249 (Savings = $1.5 million.

4F. Leverage Medicaid and Medicare for eligible community-based parolees.

Details

The Department of Corrections should provide Medicaid and Medicare enrollment assistance for eligible inmates upon release and transition certain inmates to facilities where they are eligible for Medicaid and/or Medicare. Facilitating the transition of “low-risk” geriatric and terminally ill inmates to settings where they are eligible for Medicare and/or Medicaid would decrease the Department of Corrections’ medical costs and free up space for other offenders. Providing enrollment assistance for eligible inmates upon release from custody would likely reduce the incidence of recidivism.

Target Outcomes

1. Identify inmates who can be safely paroled into the community via special attention hearings where Medicare/Medicaid can address expenses, as well as find a long-term care facility that will provide specialized housing/care for geriatric parolees.

2. Develop better contract terms with the University Medical Center for inmates receiving off-site medical care.

3. Work with the Department of Health to develop an expedited process allowing parolees to access Medicaid/Medicare faster.

Status

The department is exploring a potential option of Medicaid eligibility for certain inmates receiving inpatient care in a hospital setting.

Target Completion Date

March 15, 2012

4G. Evaluate correctional facility medical services

Details

Work with county jail officials to determine the best strategy for delivering medical services at local and State correctional facilities.

Target Outcomes

Provide medical services to inmates within the prison system, as well as inmates throughout the state in the county jail system.

Status

The Department of Corrections is finalizing the next iteration of the contract for outside inmate medical care. Additionally, the Department is working to identify pathways for Medicaid-eligible inmates to receive funding for outside medical care.

Target Completion Date

February 1, 2012