The Programming Division provides a broad array of services and interventions including substance use treatment, sex offense treatment, and educational programming to incarcerated individuals to enhance public safety and help people successfully exit the criminal justice system. In many situations, we strive to ensure the completion of programming prior to the consideration of release by the Board of Pardons and Parole (the Board).
Protecting the welfare of incarcerated individuals during this extraordinary time of COVID-19 is a top priority. All programming opportunities have resumed to pre-Covid levels, and the Department continues to be in accordance with recommendations from the CDC and state and local health officials.
The Department of Corrections begins preparing offenders for release from the day they enter the prison system. That begins with assessments in Receiving & Orientation, where inmates' education, treatment and life skills needs are evaluated. It continues as staff help inmates set goals for their recovery, rehabilitation and skill development so they will have the tools they need to lead a successful, crime-free life when they return to the community — as 95 percent of offenders do. Below you'll find overviews of the various evaluations and programs available to inmates during their incarceration.
Case Action Planning (CAP): While in Receiving and Orientation, inmates are monitored and take various assessments to determine their specific needs. That information is used to develop a Case Action Plan that outlines the inmate's educational, program and treatment needs and to set goals for the inmate during his or her incarceration. Progress and accomplishments are noted in the inmate's file, which is reviewed by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
Educational Programs: Most offenders who are sent to prison have less than a high-school education. The Utah Department of Corrections offers high school education through partnerships with local school districts. The Canyons School District operates the South Park Academy at the Utah State Prison, while the South Sanpete School District operates the Central Academy at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. The Department offers vocational training through partnerships with the Davis Technical College; Snow College; and the Uintah Basin Technical College. Inmates also may take advantage of numerous life-skills and literacy classes taught by volunteers and community organizations. Inmates also may enroll in distance-learning programs, receiving coursework materials through the U.S. Mail. Such programs provide an opportunity for inmates to earn advanced degrees. These programs are not funded by the State, but several non-profit organizations and private entities offer tuition help.
Vocational Programs: The Department works with several applied technology colleges to certify inmates in vocational trades. Those colleges are: Davis Technical College; Uintah Basin Technical College; Snow College and Dixie State University. At the Utah State Prison, male inmates may earn certificates in seven areas: Automotive Technology; Machinist Technician; Maintenance Technician; Welding Technology; Business Technology; and Culinary Arts. Female inmates may earn certificates in two programs (Culinary Arts and Business Technology). At the Central Utah Correctional Facility, certificates are offered in Culinary Arts and Building Trades.
The prison's telephone surcharge fees — paid by inmate families and friends who accept their collect calls — help support this program. However, offenders often take out student loans in order to enroll in vocational trades. Due to the fact the offender does not have a significant source of income while incarcerated, he or she is given adequate time post-release to repay any debt incurred. After an offender is "off paper" (no longer under the department's purview in either the prison or on parole status), that individual has three years to repay the student loans, meaning the State and its taxpayers are not shouldering the costs of post-secondary education.
Substance use treatment programs: The Utah Department of Corrections operates treatment programs for both male and female inmates designed to address substance use issues. The programs, which rely on evidence-based protocols shown to reduce recidivism, are in high demand. Only a small portion of inmates are serving time for drug possession alone; many engaged in criminal activity — such as theft, burglary and forgery — to support drug habits.
The Con-Quest program at the Utah State Prison and the HOPE program at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, both for male inmates, were named National Residential Substance Use Treatment Mentor Host Sites for 2014. The Excell program for women was one of 15 finalists for the designation.
Con-Quest: The Con-Quest program is housed in the Promontory Facility at the Utah State Prison and can accommodate 400 inmates. Inmates with substance dependence or use issues who have treatment listed among their top priorities in a Case Action Plan are eligible to participate in the program. Con-Quest is based on a therapeutic community model and is focused on teaching responsible living habits to enable inmates to successfully re-entry society. Inmates, called residents while in the program, practice and live those principles on a daily basis, with daily responsibilities they are expected to perform. A key aspect of the program is accountability, and residents are taught to hold each other accountable to their actions, behaviors and attitudes. While in Con-Quest, residents engage in individual and group therapy with licensed clinicians. They also participate in behavioral modification classes and are able to participate in educational and vocational training programs designed to enhance employment skills. Residents are expected to be productively engaged 40 hours per week in jobs, classes or programs. Residents spend a minimum of 12 months in the program.
HOPE: HOPE is housed in the Fir unit at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. The dormitory-style unit is capable of housing up to 288 inmates, with 48 inmates in each of the six sections. HOPE is organized as a therapeutic community aimed at helping inmates live clean, sober, positive and productive lives and typically takes 12 months to 13 months to complete. The program's therapeutic design intentionally uses a positive peer culture and environment, where high standards, morals of "right living" and pro-social core values are reinforced with privileges, rewards and recognition. The HOPE clinical staff and Fir security staff, as well as HOPE graduates, serve as role models to the program’s residents. Ideally, inmates leave the program with tools necessary to avoid re-engaging in problem behaviors. HOPE includes a thorough relapse prevention component that enables recovering addicts to live cautiously, knowing their next relapse could be around the corner. A companion goal in HOPE's behavior modification program is the recognition and elimination or reduction of criminal thinking and anti-social behavior after a return to the outside community.
Excell: Excell is based on a residential, therapeutic community model and is designed to help women overcome substance use issues and resolve trauma (physical and emotional abuse) that often underlie criminal behaviors. An analysis of the 11-month program found that women who complete the Excell program are nearly 30 percent less likely to return to prison than inmates who do not.
Religious Services: There are more than two dozen religious practices represented among Utah's prison population. To meet the spiritual needs of inmates, Corrections works with volunteers who oversee activities, programs and religious services. The Department employs part-time chaplains to provide ecclesiastical counseling and non-denominational services. For more information about religious services, visit the "religious services" page under our "Volunteers" tab.
Reading for the Blind: This program, launched in 1988, employs offenders at a modest wage to make audio recordings of books for the visually impaired. Reading for the Blind is part of a broader organization — the Program for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Utah State Library Division, which serves patrons both locally and nationally. The program is housed in a donated facility that has reading rooms and editing stations equipped with tape duplication machines. Reading for the Blind employees read hundreds of books each year, which are then added to the State Library's collection. Some offenders continue volunteering to read books for this program at the Utah State Library even after they are released from prison.
Life skills:In addition to formal education, there are other tools offenders often need in order to change their lifestyles and adopt an outlook more conducive to long-term success. Life skills courses include Thinking for a Change, Communication, Computer Literacy, Relationships, Relapse Prevention, Career Power, Financial Literacy, Anger Management, Parenting, Impact of Crime on Victims, Domestic Violence, Victim Empathy, and Thinking Errors. Initial assessments may identify course s an inmate needs to overcome specific challenges. Inmates also may seek to enroll in non-required courses, provided space is available.
Employment: Inmates, depending on their privilege level, may work basic jobs in their housing units or apply for jobs with Utah Correctional Industries (UCI), which are usually higher paying. UCI offers a wide variety of work experiences, with on-the-job training and real-world application. UCI jobs are located both within the prison and off site. Within the prison, inmates' work opportunities include the Commissary, the sign shop, the furniture shop, the license plate shop, the print shop and the upholstery shop. UCI also operates the Serving Time Cafe, a restaurant staffed by female inmates and open to the public. It is located adjacent to the prison at 14072 Pony Express Road in Draper.
Inmates applying for UCI jobs go through a formal application and interview process that matches what they might experience in the community. The jobs provide inmates an opportunity to produce useful products and services for customers while gaining the tools needed to succeed when released back to their communities. Jobs help inmates stay positively engaged while serving time, reducing the idleness, boredom and hopelessness that can trigger management and security problems for staff, visitors, volunteers and other inmates. The opportunity to engage in paid work through UCI is a powerful motivator for improving inmate behavior.