Many Utah State Inmates “Warehoused” In County Jails


A Utah inmate’s chances for success in society once freed could depend on where he does time, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Those in state prison might spend the day in drug treatment, talking to a therapist or learning a trade. If the inmate is in a county jail – as one in five state prisoners is – chances are he is mostly sitting around. A recent statewide reshuffling of inmates highlights the disparity between state prisons and county jails. Of the 282 state inmates moved from prisons to county jails, 110 were in residential drug treatment programs. That treatment – which corrections officials say cut recidivism rates by more than half – is available in just three of 21 jails that house state inmates.

County sheriffs say they are paid to house prisoners – not to provide programs aimed at rehabilitating them. “Why should Washington County pay for a Davis County resident’s problem?” said Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith, whose jail houses the second-highest number of state inmates. Department of Corrections Director Tom Patterson says counties shouldn’t have to pay. Programming is his top priority for the upcoming fiscal year budget, second only to pay raises for prison guards. One inmate in a county jail spends his time playing Pinochle while waiting to get a jail job. “Progress and change isn’t embraced in [county jails] as it is in the state prison,” he said. “They think you should be warehoused, that you don’t deserve programming.”


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