Salt Lake County, Utah: A Case Example
In 2000, Salt Lake County built a state-of-the-art detention facility that more than doubled its number of beds. In 4 years, the new facility was at capacity, and release measures were implemented to control inmate population.
ILPP was selected by the Mayor to conduct a system assessment of the criminal justice system to determine the causes of jail overcrowding and cost increases.
Through an analysis of the inmate population, ILPP found that the average length of stay for inmates more than doubled over seven years– leading directly to enormous population growth.
Identifying Crowding Issues within the System
Jail crowding and high criminal justice costs are caused by numerous factors within the criminal justice system.
In Salt Lake County, ILPP worked with law enforcement agencies, the district attorney and public defender, the courts, and jail to uncover policies and practices causing system congestion.
One area identified as causing jail crowding was disproportionate sentencing by city courts of low-level offenders; sentences that often exceeded the punishment imposed on felons by the district court.
Developing Achievable Solutions
ILPP goes beyond data and research to develop consensus among county leaders on implementing systemic changes that ultimately save substantial tax dollars.
Working with the courts in Salt Lake County, ILPP reached agreement with the judges to reconsider sentencing and calendaring practices to reduce jail demand.
The study included more than 70 cost saving changes. One County Commissioner stated bringing in ILPP was “…one of the best things we have done for the taxpayers in 3½ years.”