Flying blind when it comes to Utah’s criminal justice system should not be encouraged.
When it comes to Utah’s criminal justice system, officials trying to make positive impacts are often being handicapped by a lack of data. When there is not enough data about program outcomes or potential program needs, officials are often unable to properly make the necessary legislative changes to support an effective criminal justice system.
Increased amounts of data are needed specifically when looking at Utah’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). In Utah, this initiative has worked to reduce the state’s incarceration and recidivism rates, resulting in savings for taxpayers.
This initiative should not only be applauded but also properly supported. JRI desperately needs support in the form of better data collection and reporting mechanisms and procedures.
This bill provides support in numerous ways. It requires the state to create a comprehensive statewide criminal justice database, requires the State Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to assist with the development and management of the database, and provides that entities not in compliance with data reporting requirements may not receive grants from the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.
The state needs the ability to pass data-driven criminal justice policy, but currently, good data is severely lacking. This bill will help change that.
We applaud Representative Wilcox for his commitment to smart criminal justice reform.