Comments about ‘John Florez: Renew criminal justice first, then prison’

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 11 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

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?

Eric Rumple
Sandy, UT

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.

Brer Rabbit
Spanish Fork, UT

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.

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