Things Are a Bit Busy in the Area of Criminal Justice in
Utah this Legislative Session
There are several bills that relate to several areas of criminal justice in Utah. While most of these are narrowly defined, they are still important for those of us who have people we love involved in any facet of Utah’s system. These include (but are not limited to):
- HB 16 sponsored by Rep Jack Draxler which amends the Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry to include two misdemeanors that will be eligible for removal from the registry after 5 years
- HB 30 sponsored by Rep Gage Forerer amending some portions of the Good Landlord Program (which doesn’t really help felons, but may be worth reading to keep on top of it)
- HB 388 sponsored by Rep. Sandra Hollins, Ban the Box legislation to assist felons in securing employment without having to check the box that they are a felon
- SB 155 Indigent Defense Commission sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler is designed to form and fund a State Commission to oversee indigent defense services (public defender services)
UPAN encourages those of you who are interested in criminal justice bills to read them at www.le.utah.gov and track their progress. You can weigh in on them by writing your own legislators.
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Legislative Audit of the Utah State Board of Pardons and Parole
The Legislative Audit of the Board was released on February 1. It’s formal name is A Performance Audit of the Board of Pardons and Parole, and was completed by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General. The Audit Manager is Darin Underwood, and the Audit Supervisor is Kade Minchey. Mr. Minchey was our main contact during the data gathering phase of the audit. August Lehman and Anndrea Parrish were also dedicated auditors, along with audit technician Lauri Felt. It can also be found at www.le.utah.gov.
On behalf of UPAN families, advocates and many incarcerated individuals, I would like to express appreciation to the Auditors for the hard work and in-depth research and analysis of information they performed that resulted in the Audit report containing all the concerns and issues discovered in the operation of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. The audit process and resulting document detailing the findings have set a precedent in Utah! It is an important step in Utah’s process of criminal justice reform. History is being made.
“Utah Board of Pardons and Parole: The Urgent Need for Reform” by by Melanie Martin, ACLU of Utah.
I also would like to acknowledge the hundreds of inmates and families of inmates that provided information for this audit. The audit was not intended to address individual cases, but took all of the information provided and analyzed it. The result is the 100 page Performance Audit filled with an analysis of multiple areas that have found to be lacking in the BOPP’s operation and decision making processes. There are also solid and meaningful recommendations that I hope will be seriously followed to make the necessary changes in how the board operates.
I also want to share my sincere appreciation to UPAN Vice President Shauna Denos, who helped me sort and copy and forward the hundreds of data forms and letters we received for this audit to the auditors. This was an exhausting process for us and now we have proof that it was worth it!
I believe that UPAN families are all deeply grateful for the Legislative Audit Subcommittee, which is the body that asked for this audit to be conducted last in a meeting last July. Our legislators on the hill are listening.
The recommendations included with the Audit were gladly received by those of us present in the meeting in which it was presented. The recommended changes have been long awaited and are sorely needed. This report validates the many years of concerns and complaints of inmates, families, and advocates.
This is a huge step in the right direction for getting Utah’s Board of Pardons and Parole on track. We believe that there are more improvements that need to be made, but will be patient and see how the process goes over the coming months to correct some very serious inefficiencies and procedures within the BOP.
Audio of the Legislative Audit Subcommittee Hearing Regarding the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, February 1st 2016, Utah State Capitol
In the meeting of the Legislative Audit Subcommittee on February 1, 2016, Board Chair, Angela Miklos, agreed with the recommendations and agreed to pursue the changes recommended by the auditors. This was good to hear. Now we will watch and see how this unfolds in the coming months and years.
Please be aware that the Board will be having to keep the Audit Subcommittee posted as to it’s progress in the coming months. It will report during the interim. These meetings will be open to the public. Check the legislative website for specific dates, times, and agendas.
The Legislative Audit Subcommittee on February 1st 2016 approved an amended motion by President Wayne Niederhauser to send the Audit to the Legislative Management Committee for further consideration.
A Performance Audit of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole (Report #2016-01)
- Kade Minchey, Audit Manager
- Angela Micklos, Board Chair, Utah Board of Pardons & Parole
- Greg Johnson, Administrative Coordinator, Utah Board of Pardons & Parole
- Refer audit to Legislative Management Committee
- Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee
- Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee
- Copy of the Audit Sent to the Utah Sentencing Commission
Audit Subcommittee Members: