Few doubt that going to prison can be challenging. Few realize, however, that leaving prison can also be daunting. As part of an effort to help offenders successfully transition back into the community, the Utah Department of Corrections offers the Real Transition program. Originally taught at Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, the program is now also offered at the Utah State Prison in Draper. And who’s teaching may be a bit of a surprise: Inmates. “(Inmates) get more out of it with their peers teaching,” said Valerie Worrall, a UDC case worker based at Utah State Prison. “And it’s easier for them to teach. They have credibility.” The concept of Real Transition is fundamental. Programming Lt. Matt Barrett explained that offenders focus on themselves in five areas: physical, spiritual, financial, emotional and social. Utilizing work books, journals and discussions, they explore personal issues. “They write smart goals towards a successful release,” he said. “Then volunteers will critique them and refine them. It helps offenders have a solid release plan.” Sounds straightforward, until a pandemic is factored in. In addition to working with inmates on goals, volunteers also helped monitor the courses. With volunteering on hold – and movement within the prison itself limited – a little creativity was needed. On this day, Worrall monitors the class remotely via computer. Her image is shown on a screen in the classroom while Jason Pedersen leads the discussion. Barrett is in the room next door. It is the new normal for teachers and students, who have already become accustomed to the setup. Pedersen is back to his biggest challenge  – enticing attendees to participate. “I’ve got to get them to open up and discuss things. It’s not easy in this environment,” he said, gesturing with his eyes to the facility.  “They’ve got to feel safe.” It appears to be having an impact for Lipine “Kimo” Lealiiee. He said his work in the class has helped him “mentally and physically.” “I want to better myself,” he said, “and learn how to control my way of thinking and acting.”   Communications office, July 16, 2020  ...

The Serving Time Cafe, operated by Utah Correctional Industries, a division within the Utah Department of Corrections, has announced they are permanently closing operations effective immediately. "Out of concern for the ongoing health and safety of the Utah Department of Corrections staff and the people incarcerated in our facility, we have come to the difficult decision to permanently close the Serving Time Cafe," said Maria Peterson, Director of Utah Correctional Industries. "For more than 10 years, the Serving Time Cafe has contributed to the UCI mission, providing real-world work experiences for incarcerated women and teaching them valuable skills in food preparation and customer service." Located adjacent to the Utah State Prison in Draper, the Cafe first opened in December 2007 to serve quality food to both staff, and families and friends of visiting inmates. The cafe helped serve as a bridge between the community and the prison, giving members of the public a unique opportunity to see firsthand how UCI prepares people for reentry into the community following prison. "We want to sincerely thank our regular customers and the local businesses who employed many of our former cafe workers after release," Peterson said. "Your support of the cafe and UCI has made a positive difference in the lives of many people. Jobs associated with the Cafe for both staff and inmates will be absorbed into other operations within Utah Correctional Industries. The Cafe will also not serve as a feature at the new Utah State Correctional Facility being built in Salt Lake City. To express our gratitude, below we've shared the recipe for our famous peanut butter bars!   Peanut Butter Bars: CREAM TOGETHER: 1 1/2 C. Peanut Butter 1 1/2 C. Butter 1 1/2 C. Sugar 1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar 4 Eggs 1 TBS Vanilla THEN ADD: 3 C. Flour 1 TSP Salt 1 1/2 TSP Baking Soda 3 C. Oats DIRECTIONS: Bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on top and let cool Frost FROSTING: 1 C. Butter 1/2 C. Cocoa Powder 4 C. Powdered Sugar 1 1/2 TSP Vanilla Add milk to consistency desired Communications Office, May 19, 2020...

Midway through March of this year, Utah Correctional Industries had produced a grand total of zero face coverings in its history. By April 24, UCI had made 60,000 face coverings. By the end of May, that number could hit 130,000. That’s how quickly the arm of the Utah Department of Corrections was able to develop a face cover prototype, get it approved, then assemble an army of inmates to sew the face coverings for state agencies and local hospitals. “It took a couple of weeks to put a line together,” said Jesse Gettler, production manager for UCI’s sewing shop at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. “We had to gear up and get materials ordered. Once we did, it was a great team effort.” “Team” being the operative word. At one time, the shop was staffed by up to 100 inmates, pulled from other work areas to meet the need. “We asked everyone to work extended hours and they stepped up,” added Gettler. “Both inmates and staff, because (officers) had to stay late as well.” For a number of offenders, the project was more than work. It was a chance to help. “It's terrible that it took a pandemic, but we're grateful for the opportunity to give back,” said Michael Kitteridge, who works in the sewing shop at CUCF. “I like . . . being a part of the cure.” Kitteridge also highlighted the efforts of the correctional staff at CUCF, noting they put in the extra effort as well. “They're just as motivated as we are,” he said. “They're taking time away from their family. It shows that we're all in this together.” Gettler said now that the production line is up and running, they have scaled back on hours and staff, but still expect to make 10,000 face coverings a week. Officials will assess the need for more face coverings in several weeks. “If requests keep coming in, we’ll keep producing,” he said.   Communications Office, May 7, 2020...

In collaboration with the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, and support from the Utah Governor’s Office, the Utah Department of Corrections is initiating some early releases to create capacity within correctional facilities as confirmed cases of COVID-19 increase throughout the state. At this time there are no confirmed cases within the UDC facilities among either staff or inmates. The Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) is making referrals to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole (BOPP) for release of incarcerated individuals, who are already within 90 days of their scheduled release date and have an approved address. "The Board shares the heightened concerns of advocates, loved ones and corrections professionals for the health and safety of incarcerated and community-based offenders during the current COVID-19 outbreak,” said Dennis Moxon, director of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. “Board staff are working closely with UDC to identify incarcerated persons whose early release would not jeopardize their successful completion of evidence-based programming or compromise public safety.” Regardless of the approach applied, decisions in all Board matters will continue to be made available through the Board’s online hearing decisions search function at https://bop.utah.gov/index.php/hearings-top-public-menu/search-hearings. Notice of the Board’s final decisions in these matters will also be issued as Board Disposition Orders, which will be forwarded to each offender through their UDC Case Manager. At this time, approximately 80 referrals for these cases have been made to the BOPP by the UDC, and it’s anticipated that more will be released over the next month. From there, UDC and BOPP will collaborate to evaluate the situation and whether the process needs to be continued. Any individuals granted release through these reviews have already been granted release dates and would otherwise be released to the community within the next few weeks. “Our staff are dedicated to ensuring public safety, and have been working in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Utah Governor’s recommendations in order to release offenders safely, and provide a secure and healthy environment for those we supervise,” said Mike Haddon, executive director for the Utah Department of Corrections. “We’re working through an evolving situation, and we will continue to reevaluate our processes as the situation develops.” These releases will begin April 2, and in a continued effort to limit the size of gatherings, release days will now be held twice a week with COVID-19 prevention protocols in place. Other efforts by UDC in collaboration with BOPP and the Utah District Courts include revisiting the supervision of low-risk offenders on probation or parole and those who may have earned early termination by statute or guidelines to determine if they qualify for early release. Additionally, we continue to review protocols related to releases of offenders from Community Correctional Centers who meet certain criteria, which include evaluating public safety risk, having an approved address, and completing sufficient programming if a condition of their supervision. The Board of Pardons and Parole is also making efforts to respond to COVID-19. For more details on those efforts, please visit their website. To find out if an offender has a scheduled release date, please utilize the search decisions function on the BOPP website at bop.utah.gov.   March 26, 2020...

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 is based on a residential, therapeutic community model and is designed to help women overcome substance abuse 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....

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 abuse 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....

The Department works with several applied technology colleges to certify inmates in vocational trades. Those colleges are: Davis Technical College, Uintah Basin Technical College, and Snow College. 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....

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. Arrange a marriage ceremony Marriages are run through our Religious/Volunteer Services Office. Offenders are required to send a written request to Religious/Volunteer Services. Once the written request is received the offender will receive documents to start the process. For more information contact Religious/Volunteer Services: Salt Lake City office at 801-576-7817. Gunnison office at 435-528-6220....

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....