Happy (almost) New Year, everyone I hope you all had a good holiday break. In fact, I hope most of you are STILL on holiday break. This is a precious week of relaxation for many – between the Christmas and the New Years holidays – so I am going to just to share a few bits of criminal justice reform news, to avoid shocking your systems back into full work mode (shudder). Many thanks to the ACLU of Utah for closing its office doors for this blessedly relaxing week.
Obviously, there is a LOT of news these days about how much everyone HATES the idea of relocating the prison – in fact, the prison relocation made the D-News’ list of Top Stories from 2014! No need to re-hash all that for you – though I will be working on a “Where Does the Relocation Situation Stand?” blog to get us all caught up post-holidays (I’ll let you know when it is posted).
Rather, I’d like to point out a couple of excellent editorial pieces that skirt the “SHOULD we move the prison, and to WHERE?” issue altogether, and focus on the OPPORTUNITY that moving the prison presents. I highly recommend that you both READ and SHARE these links – especially with friends and colleagues who can’t see past the “greedy developers” take on the whole prison relocation issue.
- First, a wonderful Op-Ed by Jean Hill of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, published this past Sunday in the Salt Lake Tribune. Jean shares how she wishes that people cared as much about what happens IN the prison, as about WHERE the prison is located. A sampling of her thoughtful argument:
- “The prison relocation and the CCJJ reform package go hand in hand. Throughout the course of the relocation and reform process, numerous obstacles will be encountered, including public sentiment, irrational fears and very real logistical challenges, such as providing utilities and building roads. All Utahns should be asking their legislators to address these multiple areas of concern with one core principal in mind: A prison is a place of shelter, rehabilitation, restoration and potential redemption for the thousands of human beings who live and work within its walls.”
- Second, this Editorial from the Salt Lake Tribune: “Time to make the best of prison move juggernaut.” The Trib’s view on this situation has got to be positively influenced by all the strong coverage of the relocation by the Trib’s own staff. Matt Canham’s contributions recently have really elevated local coverage, on top of the already excellent reporting by Fox News’ Ben Winslow and D-News’ Lisa Riley Roche, among others.
- Anyway, the Trib also takes a thoughtful approach to the whole relocation – basically coming to the conclusion that many advocates, activists and even administrators (in CCJJ and UDC) came to more than a year ago: as long as we’re moving the prison, let’s use that momentum to make positive changes in how we RUN and PROGRAM our prisons. The Tribune has it right: the prison relocation isn’t just a messy boondoggle of angry citizens. Rather, it could be an amazing, positive opportunity to build a new prison, based on twenty years of expansive research into correctional best practices, that has the potential to impact our entire criminal justice system for the better.
That’s it for now. Expect more updates soon! Enjoy this week of reflection and preparation before we all barrel full-speed into 2015 together next week!
As always, if you have questions, corrections or concerns about any information shared in my email updates, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to share them. Thanks for all the good work you do, and keep it up!