If a return to prison means a felon was doing something at risk to public safety, then high recidivism means a greater risk to public safety and a greater cost to society in money, resources and anxiety. Why has Utah had such a high recidivism rate for many years? The Board of Pardons releases those that are at a high risk to return to prison by the hundreds — over 60 percent return to prison within three years of release. That is an "F" grade for the Board of Pardons in not releasing those who are not likely to return to prison, thus a low risk to public safety and cost savings to society.
Low-risk offenders often languish in prison for years. Ask the Board of Pardons what their objective standards are in deciding when an inmate should be released. All I hear are vague, pointless answers. Reward measurable positive behavior with an earlier release. Longer incarceration does not mean better rehabilitation. Stop the costly, emotionally abusive indeterminate sentencing system. With a clearly defined objective sentencing system in Utah, public safety would be enhanced and cost savings could be in the millions of dollars each year.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company