After bipartisan law passed in 2015, state’s prison population dropped 9%
From 2004 to 2013, Utah’s prison population rose by 19 percent, five times the national average. Without changes to policies and practices, the state projected additional growth of 37 percent at a cost to taxpayers of $500 million over 20 years. Seeking to safely reverse this trend, lawmakers passed comprehensive criminal justice reform in 2015. The law prioritized prison space for people convicted of serious and violent offenses, strengthened community supervision, improved and expanded re-entry and treatment services, and provided oversight of the legislation’s implementation. Since then, the state has reinvested over $35 million in evidence based treatment and other alternatives to incarceration, and its prison population has declined. The state’s overall crime rate decreased 13 percent in the decade before the legislation was passed (2006-15) and continued to fall in the first year after reform (2016), dropping another 1 percent.