The Salt Lake County jail suffers from high incarceration and recidivism rates, unable to provide the necessary services and level of supervision for all those incarcerated. Furthermore, a high percentage of those entering the prison system require additional resources from social services or behavioral health needs. These offenders often struggle to re-enter their communities and permanently leave the criminal justice system. They leave jail with limited work history, low levels of education and skills, and complex physical and behavioral health needs. Research has shown that community-based resources and treatment services are critical to offenders’ success post-release.
Mayor Ben McAdams proposed a new plan to replace a collection of individual programs with an integrated system called the Justice Reinvestment Initiative with the goal of reducing incarceration and recidivism. This program calls for a partnership of using data to drive criminal justice reform at the systemic and individual level, getting people in the right program and the right level of supervision to succeed in the community. All four independently elected branches of County government (Sheriff, District Attorney, Mayor and County Council) now share an understanding of the interrelation of the criminal justice and human services systems, and a commitment to use data to make decisions. By implementing a tool to screen for risk to recidivate and behavioral health for everyone booked at the jail, the county will be able to connect prisoners to the appropriate resources and services they need to increase their ability to successfully reenter society when they leave.