Prisons and jails are separate for good reasons

Prison policy, after years of neglect, is finally drawing more attention as both sides of the political aisle find areas of common ground. The topic has received additional attention in Utah due to discussions about moving the state prison from its current location in Draper.

eric rumple imageIncreasingly important in these conversations are the roles of jails in housing the state’s inmates. Eric Rumple, a policy analyst with the Alliance for a Better UTAH, recently wrote an op-ed in which he takes issue with a column by Deseret News writer John Florez. Florez argues that jails should take on the rehabilitative efforts of prisons. Rumple persuasively disagrees, arguing that jails and prisons have very distinct purposes.

Recently on these pages, John Florez advocated that (1) Utah’s criminal justice policy be reformed, with a goal of reducing the prison population, as an essential prerequisite to planning how to replace the Draper prison site; and (2) expanding the use of Utah’s county jails to house state prison inmates should be a key aspect of Utah’s new prison system. It is remarkable that Mr. Florez could be so right on item one and so wrong on item two. Not coincidentally, Utah’s Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA) is on the fast track to recommend greatly expanding the use of county jails as prisons. This policy would be a huge mistake.

Be sure to read Rumple’s full op-ed here. And for additional commentary by the Alliance for a Better UTAH on prison policy in Utah, check out the following links:

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