Published: Saturday, Jan. 11 2014 12:00 a.m. MST
Who are classified as "criminals"? Aren't they those who show
disdain for society by doing things that harm others? Aren't they those
who show disrespect for those we have selected from our society to enforce the
rules that we deem to be prudent and proper? Aren't they those who often
repeat "crimes" against society?Will "downsizing"
the prison solve that problem?Will putting those who have violated
our rules in jail instead of prison solve that problem?Perhaps it
will. Obviously prison has not been as effective as desired.What is
the goal? Isn't it to reclaim those who want to be reclaimed and to keep
out of society those who refuse to obey society's rules? Before changing
anything, shouldn't we find a way to identify and help those who want to
change, who will change, who will be an asset to society, and to identify those
who, for society's sake, must be kept behind bars?Wouldn't
a "sliding sentence" solve that problem? Shouldn't a criminal stay
in prison until he has proven that he is willing and able to obey the law?
I emphatically agree with Mr. Florez that criminal justice policy needs reform
before any plans for a replacement prison can be made. Utah (and the entire
U.S.) is incarcerating too many people. But I respectfully disagree with Mr.
Florez that expanding the use of county jails for state prisoners is a good
idea. Rehabilitative services and resources for the inmates are almost
non-existent in the county jails. Expanding county jails with more staff and
bigger jails (along with bigger debts to finance the expanded jails) will make
Utah's counties financially dependent upon a perpetual stream of new
inmates. It will become impossible to ever scale back this expanded prison
industrial complex. Finally, it is not a good idea to mix entrenched long-term
prison inmates with transient jail inmates. Again, I thank Mr. Florez for his
call for comprehensive criminal justice reform.
I agree with Mr. Florez that moving the prison is a waste of taxpayer money and
a benefit for the developers.However, we must not forget that the
penal system's primary purpose is to protect the citizens from the criminal
element. As society continues to break down due to various causes this must not
be forgotten. Of course it is important to reduce return rates, but not at the
expense of safety for the public. In some cases "adult time
out" is necessary, for others perhaps there are better methods as long as we
don't forget public safety. Better and more regular parole followups would
be helpful along with training and help getting back into a useful occupation.
DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.— About comments