Utah Seeks to Curb Drug Problem with Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Utah launched the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) in 2015 to resolve an increasing number of drug offenders going to state prison, although some believe that the program is yet to show a positive impact.

The state’s efforts to curb the problem could be one factor why it landed on Caring.com’s best place in the U.S. for retirement. The resource site listed Utah as the top state based on 13 categories, including quality of life, cost of living, and health care services among other factors.

Regulatory Reforms

As Utah seeks to reduce the number of drug offenders going to state prison, the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice reiterated that public safety has not been compromised, due to some drug offenses being reclassified to misdemeanors from low-level felonies. If you’re looking for a misdemeanor lawyer in Provo or Salt Lake City, Matthew Jube, Attorney at Law says that there’s a possibility that your case falls under the jurisdiction of the JRI.

However, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben Adams believes that initiative not only complicated matters for the state’s criminal justice system, but also presents a public safety risk by releasing drug offenders from prison.

Study Says

The Utah Association of Counties commissioned a study that showed that the state already had a low crime rate for most offenses before JRI became effective in October 2015.

Still, police officers and legal prosecutors think that courts, county jails, and communities have been adversely affected by decriminalizing drug-related crimes without treatment options. Despite this sentiment, the study’s findings showed that the situation remains tolerable for now, according to Utah Association of Counties CEO Adam Trupp.

The debate surrounding JRI has been contentious in Utah, as both supporters and critics have valid points in their arguments. Do you think the initiative is a good solution to bring down the rising number of people sent to the state prison?