OGDEN (ABC4 News) – Utah’s prison overpopulation problem is about to get bigger. Weber County Jail, which provides 120 inmate beds to the state, will end its contract with the Utah Department of Corrections.
In a presentation to the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations subcommittee last Tuesday, UDOC Director Mike Haddon said there was a 257 inmate growth in the past 12 months – the largest annual growth they’ve seen in the last 20 years.
Haddon said the UDOC’s current focus is identifying what is driving the demand for bed space to allow the criminal justice system to target those areas.
In the meantime, he said they will be accessing additional inmate beds at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, and county facilities where the UDOC has jail contracting.
However, the Weber County Jail will no longer be one of those options. Lt. Joshua Marigoni said county officials decided not to renew their contract with the state, which ends on June 30.
“It was a fiscal decision. We decided when reviewing the contract, we were actually losing money on the contract,” said Lt. Marigoni.
He said UDOC used an average of 85 of the 120 inmate beds made available to them at the Weber County Jail. According to Lt. Marigoni, the state paid Weber County between $52 to $64 to house an inmate per day, when it actually cost them $73 to $76.
“Ultimately, the cost over the contract amount impacts the Weber County taxpayers so it’s responsible for us to review those contracts to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the taxpayers,” he said.
Haddon declined an on-camera interview, but referred ABC4 News to his presentation, which is publicly accessible on the Utah State Legislature website.
In that presentation, Haddon said a large variety of things “can and do impact the prison population,” for example:
- Probation and parole revocation activity
- Commitments to prison for new crimes
- Increased length of stay for inmates
- Recission activity (e.g. parole date pulled back because suitable housing is not available for the inmate in the community)
The presentation also mentioned the growth is increasing the workload of Adult Parole & Probation (AP&P) agents, meaning less time is available for them to proactively work with offenders.
As a result, UDOC is implementing certain changes to help with the workload, including:
- Not providing pre-sentencing investigations (PSI) to low-risk and low-level offenders
- Content of PSIs will be condensed, creating a more concentrated report that still provides decision-makers with information needed to make decisions
- Low-risk offenders will not be supervised
- Offenders that have met their supervision guidelines will not be supervised
- AP&P staff will no longer sit in court. If specific questions are raised, the involved agent can be subpoenaed.
To listen to the meeting audio, click here.
Lt. Marigoni said UDOC and the county are still on good terms and a contract renewal in the future is possible.
“We left it open-ended so we’re open to negotiations at any time as long as the terms can be amicable for both sides,” he said.