2015 Bills

HB348: Widespread Criminal Justice Reform in Utah

This bill passed the House 72-3 and passed the Senate unanimously. It was subsequently signed into law by Governor Herbert.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Following town hall meetings, research, and significant deliberation, the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) offered a series of evidence-based recommendations to the legislature. Representative Eric Hutchings has sponsored House Bill 348 to attempt to enact the recommendations into law.

The reforms are intended to make criminal justice “smarter” in Utah, keeping people out of prison who don’t need to be there—saving taxpayers some half a billion dollars over the next 20 years by not needing to incarcerate more people. Lowering the penalty for drug possession is one of the recommendations that has received significant attention. Other proposals include:

  • Revise drug penalties to target chronic felony offenders and drug dealers who sell in the presence of minors and where minors are likely to be.
  • Revise criminal history scoring to avoid double-counting and limit factors to those most relevant to the risk of re-offense.
  • Revise sentencing guidelines for certain lower-level crimes.
  • Establish formal graduated revocation caps for technical probation revocations.
  • Establish formal graduated revocation caps for technical parole revocations.
  • Establish a system of earned time credits offered by the Board [of Pardons and Parole].
  • Implement a graduated sanctions and incentives matrix [for Adult Probations and Parole].
  • Establish a system of earned compliance credits on supervision.
  • Expand treatment services.
  • Establish treatment standards and certification.
  • Establish standards for recovery and reentry support programs.
  • Enhance transition planning, supports and services for offenders returning to their communities.
  • Reclassify moving vehicle misdemeanors in order to focus jail resources on higher-level offenders and relieve undue burdens on localities.
  • Establish evidence-based jail treatment standards.
  • Establish a county performance-incentive grant program.
  • Provide better support to victims of crime.
  • Provide enhanced training for decision makers and community supervision officers.
  • Require collection and reporting of key performance measures and establish oversight.

You can read CCJJ’s report, which provides detail on each of these points, here.