2021 Bills

HCR 23: Committing to a Restorative Criminal Justice System

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker. Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it aligns with our principles and should therefore be passed into law.

Some people hear the term “criminal justice reform” and they automatically think of the policy as a Democratic agenda. But that’s not necessarily true. In fact, many of the great criminal justice reform policies have been sponsored and supported by conservative lawmakers in Utah. And we hope to see this trend continue because, while it’s tempting to label a policy as left or right, many of these issues are human issues that are, in fact, non-partisan.

Representative Keven Stratton is sponsoring House Concurrent Resolution 23 to affirm the Utah Legislature’s support for restorative criminal justice reform. This bill recognizes and outlines the importance of the criminal system in keeping families and communities safe while also displaying the need for continued efforts of change. It highlights harms perpetuated by the current system, such as family separation and overly-punitive measures that penalize people for life, and seeks to implement changes that address this without negatively impacting safety.

Utah’s current criminal system is a costly one that taxpayers are footing the bill for due to inefficiencies throughout the entire system. But this bill aims to get a commitment to cut costs and obtain better outcomes. For example, rehabilitation rather than pure punishment creates more cost-effective and desirable outcomes for both the individual defendant and for the public.

This bill is nonbinding, meaning it is merely a resolution of intent. And while we don’t usually engage in resolutions, we feel that this is an important exception because of the dire need for reform, and bi-partisan support for reform, rather than pushing off the issue as “left” or “right,” which doesn’t get us anywhere.

Libertas is committed to continuing to work on creating better outcomes for public safety, and individual success in the criminal system, and we fully support this resolution.