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Audit: Standards for revoking parole, probation inconsistent across Utah

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 9:32 p.m. MDT

An audit of Utah's Division of Adult Probation and Parole revealed inconsistencies across the state of what will get offenders sent to prison, a problem that is costing Utah millions of dollars. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) An audit of Utah's Division of Adult Probation and Parole revealed inconsistencies across the state of what will get offenders sent to prison, a problem that is costing Utah millions of dollars. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — An audit of Utah's Division of Adult Probation and Parole revealed inconsistencies across the state of what will get offenders sent to prison, a problem that is costing Utah millions of dollars.

The report released Tuesday by the Legislative Auditor General's Office revealed inconsistent practices throughout the state for revoking parole or probation.

In other words, a probation or parole violation that will get someone sent to prison in one part of the state doesn't have the same consequences in others.

"We found that administrators, supervisors and agents have varying opinions and strategies regarding when to recommend offenders be sent to prison," the report states. "Even among offices within a single region, (division) employees expressed markedly different views."

Those inconsistencies are earning Utah one of the highest revocation rates in the country, the report states.

In 2007, Utah narrowly beat out California for the Western state with the highest percentage of parolees returned to incarceration, according to a Bureau of Justice survey. With 28 percent of paroles revoked, Utah came in second in the nation behind Connecticut, which re-incarcerated 30 percent of parolees.

The audit found that nearly twice as many high-risk offenders, or 29 percent, have parole or probation revoked in northern Utah than in Utah County and central Utah, with 16 percent. The Salt Lake Valley has a 26 percent revocation rate.

The report does not factor in population or crime rate data for those regions.

Because it costs $8.30 per day to supervise offenders living in Utah communities compared with $75 per day to house them in a prison, the audit estimates the state could save $2.6 million annually if its recidivism rate was brought down 10 percent through improved parole and probation supervision.

Among its suggestions, the audit complimented the division's efforts to implement practices shown to reduce recidivism but urged the division to apply them more consistently across the state.

Rollin Cook, Utah Department of Corrections executive director, responded to the audit, assuring that the division is working to establish consistent parole and probation violation standards for all regions while developing metrics to better implement practices that could reduce recidivism.

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