Legislative town hall meeting to focus on Justice Reinvestment Initiative

State legislators from Cache County are holding a Town Hall meeting Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Cache County Council Chamber located in the Hall of Justice.

Dr. Ed Redd, Utah State Representative from District 4, says everyone is invited to attend and participate in a discussion which will be centered around what is referred to as JRI, which stands for Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and it includes changes to Utah’s criminal justice system implemented by House Bill 348 during the last legislative session.

Dr. Redd says the bill, which passed overwhelmingly, changes the way we approach many drug-related offenses, including the idea that many drug and other non-violent offenders do not benefit from prolonged  incarceration and what they need is more treatment for their mental illness and/or substance abuse.

“For some people, (they) don’t get treated when they get out of jail or don’t want to get treated or find out they’re not going to have to go to jail because it’s a drug-related offense,” Dr. Redd explains, “so they sometimes are not motivated enough by the threat of a felony or the threat of going to jail to stay in treatment.

“So there’s motivation issues, lack of resource issues, a lot of these people aren’t able to access the treatment they need outside of the jail setting. Consequently, it becomes, sometimes, we don’t have the treatment outside of jail we end up with more problems than we had before.”

Dr. Redd is experienced in this area himself and he says the Town Hall meeting will include six qualified panelists who will have a robust discussion on JRI. The panelists are Darlene Wayland, JRI coordinator for the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen, Dan Blanchard of Adult Probation and Parole, First District Judge Thomas Willmore, Public Defender Shannon Demler, and Brock Aldeer, director of the Bear River Health Department’s substance abuse treatment division.

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