Recently, South Park Academy held its inaugural high school graduation ceremony at the newly opened Utah State Correctional Facility. That will now be the one and only graduating class for South Park at USCF. Officials with the Salt Lake City School District have announced the school will change its name to Sky View Academy. The district's board approved the change on June 6. South Park offered high school courses to incarcerated students at the Utah State Prison from 1955 to 2022. It was initially under the supervision of the Jordan School District before moving to the Canyons School District in 2009. So why the change? In 1955, the name South Park was not associated with a popular cable television show that, to put it politely, does not reflect the image the school district is striving to put forth at USCF. "Students within correctional facilities are often marginalized and are rarely afforded opportunities to change how they are viewed," said the district's name change proposal. "With the current school's name, several references within pop culture can be made that reinforce negative stereotypes of bad behavior and continue to stigmatize our students long after they pay their debt to society and re-enter their communities when they produce proof of graduation through transcripts or diplomas. "South Park Academy students and stakeholders deserve a name that instills hope and pride for all associated with the program." Sky View was selected based on a survey of students and stakeholders – highlighting the wide-open spaces surrounding USCF. It topped Sliver Lake Academy (which went with the water theme at the facility) and Bayside Academy (a nod to the Great Salt Lake sitting just a few miles away).  The groups also selected Eagles as the mascot and a color scheme of purple and silver. "I think they, as well as our other stakeholders who participated, did a phenomenal job in choosing a name that not only represents the landscape but also choosing a mascot that has great significance and symbolism when it comes to our students' livelihoods while here," said Christopher Sullivan, the Supervisor/Administrator for Sky View. "I couldn't think of a better school name and mascot for our students as they soar to new heights and strive for a better future while they keep hope alive."...

The first high school graduation ceremony since 2020 was held recently at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. Officials from the Central Utah Academy celebrated not only the 29 graduates from the Class of 2023, but also took the time to highlight the 14 graduates from 2021 and the 16 from 2022. The pandemic caused challenges, officials noted, but students overcame them to be where they were today – wearing graduation regalia and accepting diplomas. “This is a testament to your fortitude,” said Ralph Squire, Superintendent of the South Sanpete School District, which operates Central Utah Academy. During his speech, Guy Gabaldon, 49, challenged his fellow graduates to “never stop learning.” “This is just the beginning to a new chapter in our lives,” he added. “Good luck to you all.” Anthony Blauer, a counselor at the academy, read the graduates a poem about wreckers and builders, stating that he saw those gathered this day were the latter. “You guys have all shown to me that you’re a builder,” he said. “You’re building your own lives.” The Utah Department of Corrections operates CUCF and the Utah State Correctional Facility in Salt Lake City. In addition to high school courses, both facilities offer technical and college courses to incarcerated individuals. CUCF houses up to 1,800 male inmates. We want to thank all UDC staff for encouraging incarcerated individuals and providing the means for them to pursue education while under our supervision. We also want to extend a thank you to our legislators. Your continued support makes these programs possible.   Liam Truchard, Communications Specialist...

The Utah Department of Corrections hosted Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson at the Utah State Correctional Facility on Thursday, June 29. Her visit provided valuable insights into our operations and a chance to showcase our commitment to public safety and rehabilitation. We were grateful that Lt. Gov. Henderson joined us for this visit. It underscores the importance of collaboration and partnership in achieving our shared goal of a safer and more rehabilitative justice system. Stay tuned for more updates on our initiatives and efforts to promote public safety, rehabilitation, and successful reentry. Together, we can positively impact the lives of our staff, individuals under our care, and the communities we serve. Andrew Damas, Communications Office...

The Utah Department of Corrections Training Academy continues to prepare new officers and deputies for careers in corrections. The latest to join the ranks include 46 cadets who graduated recently from Pre Service Academy 335. Those earning awards in the class include Joshua Ludlow (Physical Fitness), Michael Burnett (Professionalism), and Kody Woffinden (Academic). Joshua Ludlow was also named Outstanding Trainee achieving the highest academic and physical fitness scores. The new cadets also heard from keynote speaker, Assistant Deputy Executive Director of the UDC, Maria Shirey. The class motto was "Memento Mori!" Congratulations to all. Andrew Damas, Communications Office...

Chalk on a walkway in a Utah neighborhood? Pretty common. Chalk on a walkway . . . in a Utah prison? OK, that’s new. Women in the Elevate program at the Utah State Correctional Facility spent a part of Tuesday, June 26, drawing on the concrete between the Dell and Emerald housing units, which comprise the majority of the women’s facilities at USCF. Elevate is the residential substance use program for women at the site. The Chalk the Walk activity saw the women create original artworks or replicate drawings they brought with them. The explosion of brightly-colored chalk designs quickly took over the roughly 100-yard thoroughfare. “I think it’s great,” said Leslie Crafts, her right hand dusted with the neon pink Crayola chalk she was applying. “It kinda gives us a little bit of freedom and it’s a lot of fun.”   The project was designed as a therapeutic approach to promote community bonding and pro-social behavior, noted Kim Zundel, a case specialist with the Elevate program. It’s the first time the event has been tried at USCF, which opened in July 2022. “Even the ones that are pretty quiet are coming out of their shell and interacting with their peers,” said Zundel. “That’s pretty good.” Interaction was evident, as the amateur artists shared laughs and exchanged colored chalk back and forth. All the while, the turtles, landscapes and inspirational messages became real on the path. “It’s working with each other and it shows creativity,” said Brittany Karczewski as she carefully outlined a unicorn she said was for her daughter. “It’s just a chance to have some sober fun. Some of us haven’t had that before.”   Liam Truchard, Communications Specialist...

It was a graduation ceremony three years in the making. Literally. The first high school graduation ceremony since 2020 was held recently at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. Officials from the Central Utah Academy celebrated not only the 29 graduates from the Class of 2023, but also took the time to highlight the 14 graduates from 2021 and the 16 from 2022. The pandemic caused challenges, officials noted, but students overcame them to be where they were today – wearing graduation regalia and accepting diplomas. “This is a testament to your fortitude,” said Ralph Squire, Superintendent of the South Sanpete School District, which operates Central Utah Academy. During his speech, Guy Gabaldon, 49, challenged his fellow graduates to “never stop learning.” “This is just the beginning to a new chapter in our lives,” he added. “Good luck to you all.” Anthony Blauer, a counselor at the academy, read the graduates a poem about wreckers and builders, stating that he saw those gathered this day were the latter. “You guys have all shown to me that you’re a builder,” he said. “You’re building your own lives.” The Utah Department of Corrections operates CUCF and the Utah State Correctional Facility in Salt Lake City. In addition to high school courses, both facilities offer technical and college courses to incarcerated individuals. CUCF houses up to 1,800 male inmates. We want to thank all UDC staff for encouraging incarcerated individuals and providing the means for them to pursue education while under our supervision. Without your help, we would be unable to offer these opportunities....

Salt Lake City, UT - Utah State Correctional Facility’s (USCF) inaugural high school graduation saw 38 incarcerated students, ranging in age from 22 to 56 years old, earn their high school diplomas during an event Monday hosted by the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) and Salt Lake City School District. The graduation took place at the facility’s main visiting area, with families of the incarcerated and leadership from Salt Lake City School District, the Utah State Board of Education, and UDC in attendance. Students were allowed to visit with family members after the event, with a box lunch provided. Not all students were able to be in attendance today, as some have returned to their communities or transferred to different sites within the UDC to complete other programs. Chris Sullivan, Principal at South Park Academy, the school at USCF, noted it was the first time since 2019 the school was able to have a graduation ceremony due to the pandemic and a prison move from Draper to Salt Lake City. “With all these changes and uncertainty, there were so many opportunities for our students to give up hope,” he recalled. “And yet, when the teachers came calling, the students started showing up.” Students participated in high school education classes throughout the year in both the mens and womens facilities. Four provided remarks during Monday’s event. Graduate Jose Rios-Mojica noted he was “happy” to be there – not a statement usually made in a prison setting. “Maybe you don’t understand why I have this feeling,” he said. “It is not sadness, but it is joy. “It has given me an opportunity like today to be a better person.” Cesia Ortiz thanked her teachers for helping her push through both school and a treatment program. “When I first began school, I had little to no interest in furthering my education,” she said, noting her release was contingent upon completing programming, not high school. “I realized that to be truly successful on the outside, I had to graduate.” Salt Lake City Board of Education President Nate Salazar thanked the graduates for choosing the path that brought them to the ceremony this day, noting that their education will always be theirs. “And while today is a day of firsts,” he added, “don’t let today be the last accomplishment, but one of the many more yet to come.” In order to allow broader participation in graduation ceremonies moving forward, South Park Academy will be holding graduation twice a year: in June and December. This will allow more students to be present for their own graduation ceremonies prior to being paroled or continuing to other programs.   Liam Truchard, Communications Office...

On Thursday, May 18, 2023, The Central Utah Correctional Facility (CUCF) hosted Dan Young, CEO of Utah-based companies PC Laptops and Xidax Computer, who inspired incarcerated individuals while speaking on how he achieved success in business and life.   Drawing from his own experiences, Young spoke about the significance of integrity, energy, and education for achieving financial success. He also asked the prisoners to write down a list of goals they hope to achieve.   The UDC, CUCF, and its incarcerated population extend their heartfelt thanks to Dan Young for sharing his invaluable insights. With the continued support of individuals like Dan Young and the commitment to rehabilitation in our correctional facilities, the journey towards transformation and successful reintegration continues for those in the Central Utah Correctional Facility.   [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9OAh65AgZQ[/embedyt]   Andrew Damas, Communications Office...

Earlier today, a fight involving multiple incarcerated individuals occurred in the restricted housing unit of the Utah State Correctional Facility (USCF), resulting in injuries. Two individuals were transported to the hospital with one individual being admitted for further treatment. No staff members were injured during the incident. To ensure the safety and security of everyone involved, the Utah Department of Corrections initiated a temporary lockdown of USCF and Central Utah Correctional Facility (CUCF), as a standard precautionary measure. During this time, incarcerated individuals will be restricted to their assigned cells and dormitories, with limited movement permitted until a further review is completed. The identities of the individuals involved in the incident are not being released at this time. More information will be available after an investigation is completed. USCF is located in Salt Lake City and houses approximately 2,200 incarcerated male and 400 female individuals. CUCF is located in Gunnison and houses approximately 1,700 incarcerated males.   Kaitlin Felsted, Communications Office...

The Utah Department of Corrections Training Academy continues to prepare new officers and deputies for careers in corrections. The latest to join the ranks include 35 cadets who graduated recently from Pre Service Academy 331.  Of the total, 16 will go to county jails throughout the state, 6 will become part of the Adult Probation and Parole division, and The remaining 13 will serve at the Utah State Correctional Facility in Salt Lake City. Those earning awards in the class include Niko Valerio of the Tooele County Sheriff's Office (Physical Fitness), Adam Faulkner of the UDC (Professionalism), and Jennifer Wilkinson of the Grand County Sheriff's Office (Academic). Joel Elliott of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office was named the top overall cadet. The class motto was "Conquer From Within!" Congratulations to all....