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Justice Reinvestment Initiative

In 2015, the Commission on criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) examined state corrections and their effectiveness in Utah. The study revealed Utah has maintained one of the lowest incarceration rates in the nation, but it also discovered that the rate was climbing in comparison with other U.S. states. The study also proved many offenders were arrested and sent back to prison within a year or two.

To combat this, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert signed House Bill 348S01 “criminal Justice Programs and Amendments” into law. The legislative changes implemented rehabilitative programs, strengthened probation, and changed sentencing laws for nonviolent drug crimes. This drastic change to the system is also known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it’s important you read ahead. Utah is undergoing a state corrections reform, so you may have your sentence reduced or even dismissed. However, this is nearly impossible without trusted legal representation to guide you.

Attorney Explains the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Salt Lake City, UT

Utah has joined the national prison reform movement which includes 23 other states. This is known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and seeks to lower recidivism in Utah’s state and county corrections. Some programs involved in the initiative include earned-time credit, rehabilitation programs and credit for time served.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about Utah’s justice reform, then call Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law. Defense attorney Susanne Gustin has actively studied the initiative. She understands the new prison policies and how to work them in your favor. Contact us now at (801) 243-2814 to set up a free consultation.

Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law accepts clients throughout Salt Lake County and Weber County including Ogden, Salt Lake City, Roy and Pleasant View.

Overview of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Utah


What is the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Utah?

The CCJJ responded by presenting Utah legislators with a comprehensive evidence-based policy recommendation for prison reform. The legislation would focus on reducing recidivism, promoting rehabilitation and ultimately incarcerating less people at a time. The program’s objective is to reduce prison growth by 2,551 inmates over the next 20 years and avert $542 million in corrections spending for Utah tax payers. 

The data was compiled and analyzed to create the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. The legislation included new sentencing laws, earned-time credit programs, credit for time served, strengthened parole and credit for completing rehabilitation programs. The bill was signed into law on March 31, 2015 by Governor Gary R. Herbert.

Listed below are the goals for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Utah.


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What Does Utah’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative Consist of?

CCJJ developed policies to reduce reoffending and assimilate offenders back into society. These were signed into law in 2015 and are in practice today. Some legislative changes within the Initiative include lighter sentencing for minor crimes such as drug possession. However, the Initiative also consists of programs such as earned-time credit and treatment programs.

Listed below are the different programs the Justice Reinvestment Initiative consists of.

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Lightened Penalties for Drug-Related Crimes

One of the most common offenders CCJ found were from drug-related crimes, primarily prescription abuse. In 2015, House Bill 348 modified the penalties for drug possession and prescription fraud. The purpose of the change was to give nonviolent drug offenders a chance to obtain substance and mental health treatment to fight their addiction. 

Lightening the penalties for drug crimes would lower the potential for prison time for nonviolent drug offenders. This way the court can focus on issuing court ordered treatment programs rather than incarceration. It would also lower the total number of people serving time for a nonviolent drug offense.

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Increased Funding for Substance and Mental Health Treatment

One of the primary goals for the Reinvestment program is to expand rehabilitation treatment for offenders. All treatment providers must now use evidence-based treatment practices if they want state funding. They must follow new treatment standards and treatment providers must be certified by the appropriate agencies. This includes a more thorough substance abuse and mental health evaluation before trial proceedings.

The new treatment standards are expected to reduce recidivism because offenders will have the tools to fight their addiction. Instead of punishing addicts who impulsively act on their crimes, the state will instead emphasize treatment and ways to re-enter society.

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Save Prison Beds for Serious and Violent Offenders

A major goal of the Reinvestment Initiative is to reserve prison spaces for serious and violent criminals. Before the Initiative, Utah had seen an increase of nonviolent offenders in jail or prison. Now, it’s much less likely for you to be sentenced to jail or prison if you committed a nonviolent minor crime.

Violent and serious offenders, however, should expect to be incarcerated if convicted. Utah wants to emphasize rehabilitating offenders who don’t pose a threat to society and incarcerate those who committed heinous crimes.

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Ways to Earn Credit in Jail or Prison

A significant change Utah has implemented is the expansion of earned credit opportunities in jail and prison. Now, if you served any jail time as a condition for probation or for violating probation, it can be counted as time served. You can also earn credits for finishing your Case Action Plan, which is a set of various educational and treatment goals that must be completed during incarceration. 

Completing your Case Action Plan priority early will result in your sentence being reduced by four months. Completing a second Case Action Plan priority will result in another four-month cut. In addition, you can earn time credit on parole for every month you successfully complete all required conditions.

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Strengthened Parole and Probation

An analysis by CCJJ revealed most offenders out on parole return to prison within 36 hours. The Justice Reinvestment Program is attempting to remedy that by standardizing what a violation is across county lines. This was because the state found inconsistencies with how parole was supervised and what was considered a violation. 

The legislation also developed strict guidelines for parole supervisors to follow so they act as better transitional agents for offenders. The program would implement the earned time credit program for parolees, meaning you can shave off your sentence if you successfully complete all the conditions of your parole that month.


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Additional Resources 

2017 JRI Annual Report – Visit the official website of the Utah Commission on criminal and Juvenile Justice to access their 2017 annual report for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). Access the document to learn data, statistics and other important information collected from the program. 

Justice Reinvestment Initiative – Visit the official website of the Utah Commission on criminal and Juvenile Justice to learn more about the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). Access the site to learn more about JRI, goals for reducing reoffenders, and long-term solutions.


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Defense Lawyer for JRI Program in Salt Lake County, Utah

Have you or someone you know recently been charged with a crime? It’s important you secure trusted legal representation before you make any important decisions. The legal system can be confusing, and it’s highly recommended you have someone experienced to guide you.

Contact Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law for quality legal counsel today. Susanne Gustin is a skilled defense lawyer who is passionate about her work. She will sit down with you, answer all your legal questions and come up with a plan today. Call (801) 243-2814 to set up a free consultation.

Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law represents people throughout the greater Salt Lake City area including Sandy, West Valley City, Murray and West Jordan.


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