DRAPER, Utah (ABC4 Utah) -Congressman Chris Stewart took time Wednesday to meet with inmates at the Utah State Prison to talk about a verity of issues. One of the main issues inmate kept bringing up was prison reform.
Representative Stewart’s long time friend is a Chaplin at the prison and invited him out to come meet a group of about 20 prisoners. The congressman said it was an opportunity to let them know people are listening.
“Let them know that we realize they’re there, and give them a chance to ask questions,” said Rep. Stewart. “I mean they’re interested in politics they’re following the world.”
The inmates said they watch the news on a daily basis, and were up to date on several issues. While they asked fun questions about the congressman’s favorite college team, they also wanted to know about Russia, ovoid crisis and prison reform.
Beau Heaps is an inmate who was sent here for murder at 17 before being let out. Only to return later after theft charges and drugs. Now at age 38 he would like to see more done to prevent incarceration in the first place.
“Let’s try to make some social change,” said Heaps. “These men are disfunctional they come from horrible backgrounds. We need to be equipped so we don’t take shortcuts.”
Congressman Stewart said he is open to some prison reforms on mandatory minimum sentencing. Which can keep non violent offenders in jail for long periods of time.
“I’ve talked to enough federal judges and others who feel like their hands are tied that they can’t allow that discretion and I don’t think that’s helpful,” said Rep. Stewart.
Heaps told the congressman he wants to see more done to battle the drug addiction issues across the country. He believes it driving more people into the prison system.
“Most people wouldn’t do some of the horrible things they did if it wasn’t their addiction,” said Heaps. “Heroin takes your life, and meth takes your soul.”
The congressman also took time to tour the facility which is quite old. A new state prison is set to open in Salt Lake City in 2021.
Rep. Stewart will head back in Washington D.C. in just over a week, and said tax reform will be the biggest issue they will tackle. He said the Republicans need a win after failing to repeal Obamacare, believes tax reform will help move the economy forward.