About Utah’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative
On March 31, 2015, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert signed House Bill 348S01 “Criminal Justice Programs and Amendments” into law. The changes affecting individuals in the custody of the Utah Department of Corrections and under the jurisdiction of the Utah Board of Pardons & Parole took effect on October 1, 2015.
The new law seeks to address the fact that while our State has maintained one of the lowest incarceration rates (number of people confined per 100,000 adults) in the nation, our rate has been climbing while the rate in other states has generally shrunk.
The Utah Legislature worked with the Governor’s Office of Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) and the Pew Charitable Trusts last year to bring identify and recommend changes in our criminal justice system. The intent is basically to continue holding offenders accountable and securing our communities — but in a way that takes into account individual risks and treatment needs. JRI is driven by data and outcomes, meaning all the efforts are being measured for effectiveness.
The expectation is that JRI will reduce our incarceration and recidivism rates, resulting in savings for taxpayers. The criminal justice system as a whole is expected to move toward a system that incarcerates people who pose a risk or a threat to the community and treats those who struggle with addictions but otherwise pose little or no danger to our neighborhoods.
This is part of a national movement that is already working in 23 other states and 17 local jurisdictions. Some states have slowed their prison inmate growth, while others have even reversed the trend and are seeing prison populations decline. JRI is an all-encompassing effort to make the Courts and Board of Pardons and Parole selective about who they send to prison. It also aims to help us work with probationers to ensure they never come to prison, and to work with inmates and parolees to ensure they never come back to prison.
Utah Board of Pardons and Parole and the Utah Department of Corrections have prepared the information on this page to help the public understand the changes the bill makes in sentencing, credit for time served, parole violations and credit for program completion. See the links on the right for more information.
The bill reduces penalties for certain drug crimes. The reduced sentences will shorten the expiration date (or maximum potential time in prison). In addition, the changes will shorten the Sentencing Guideline. The changes are not retroactive, so they will only apply to new sentences entered after the effective date.
CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED
The bill expands the definition of jail time that can be credited as time served against a prison sentence. Jail time served as a condition of probation or for a violation of probation may be counted as time served. This change is not retroactive and applies to new prison sentences after the effective date. (Note: The Board does not grant credit for time in jail served for other convictions or for probation violations not related to the offense that resulted in the prison commitment or when time is tolled.)
SENTENCING GUIDELINES AND PAROLE VIOLATIONS
The Sentencing Commission will update the Sentencing Guidelines and establish guidelines for parole violations. The guidelines will suggest how long an individual should serve in prison for the original offense and subsequent parole violations. The Board may use aggravating or mitigating factors to deviate from the guidelines.
CREDIT FOR PROGRAM COMPLETION
The bill establishes a reduction of incarceration time (time cut) of at least four months for successfully completing the top Case Action Plan priority. An additional four-month time cut will be granted for completing a second Case Action Plan priority.
The Board and Department of Corrections will establish an earned-time credit program for individuals on parole. Each month of successful parole will reduce the maximum term of parole for eligible parolees.