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Category: Today At Utah Policy

Utah Foundation released Rethinking Rehabilitation: Improving Outcomes for Drug-Addicted Offenders in Utah. The report explains efforts to address addiction within the context of the justice system in Utah and explores alternative approaches for people struggling with substance use disorders. It also sets forth policy guidance for future action.

The issue is critical because effective rehabilitation programs for offenders can yield significant cost savings to the criminal justice system and the wider public and reduce recidivism rates. One recent federal study found a five-fold return to the public on investments in drug rehabilitation programs for offenders.  Treatment programs have also been shown to reduce overdose deaths after release from prison.

Among the report’s key findings are that efforts to reduce the state prison population appear to be bearing fruit. However, the populations of local jails in Utah are rising, and local facilities often lack the drug treatment programs found in state prisons.

Other key findings include:

Utah Foundation concludes the report with the following guidance for policymakers:

Utah Foundation President Peter Reichard highlighted the importance of examining Utah’s prison population alongside its local jail population and to identify gaps in incarceration-based and community-based treatment services. “The potential return on investment to the public suggests policymakers have a duty to ensure a robust and effective treatment network is in place at both the state and local levels,” Reichard said. “This means both bolstering the programs we know work and monitoring the progress of more experimental efforts nationally to determine whether to deploy them in Utah.”