Sunday, June 22, 2014



What in the world?

At a recent FOCUS Group meeting (April 7, 2014) the question “When an inmate is issued a fine for an infraction, and money is collected, how are these funds dispersed and recorded?”, was asked of Gary Sessions (Finance Director for UDC) and Brian Allgaier  (Financial Manager of Inmate Funds Accounting). Their answer was that the money is recorded and stays at the institution. Neither one really answered the part about how the funds are recorded.

They then go on to say that the funds collected are placed into the general operation fund and used for….now get this! UTILITIES, LAUNDRY, FOOD, and different expenses to run the facility. Excuse us but are the taxpayers’ pockets now being double dipped into?????

These Offenders, if they are lucky enough to score a job inside the walls, work for about forty cents an hour! Given a 40 hour week, this is approximately 25.00 a MONTH! And if an Offender is having child support payments taken what’s left to pay these fines.  Who is actually paying these fines? The family is! We are already paying taxes that should be going into the operational fund so why are we being penalized once again by the higher uppers at UDC?

Think about a single mom, through no fault of her own is now being penalized. She did not commit the crime. But now she is left to raise and provide for herself and her children. Her Offender is hit with a large fine….the rumor is that now it is sometimes $200! She wants to help and puts money on the books. This is most likely taken from her household money that SHOULD be used to feed and provide for those children! WHY does UDC see the need to FINE this kind of money knowing good and well that this Offender is usually not the one paying it!

Come on UDC, your budget for the 2013 FY was over 265 MILLION dollars. And this includes $340,000 in FEDERAL FUNDING! Add to what the Legislature approves is the profit from Utah Correctional Industries of over $21,000. Then you have $1.5M in surcharges from the prison phone system going into the pot!

UDC, STOP penalizing the families! They are having a hard enough time because, in some instances, the major wage owner is no longer there. STOP taking out of the mouths of the innocent children who did nothing to deserve the lives they are being forced into living…a life without a mother or a father.
Want a suggestion on how to stretch that budget? Release some of the first time offenders with no prior criminal record. Utilize the Fortitude Center for Parole Violators instead of sending them back to prison on a technical violation. Be better stewards of OUR money!

If the Offender breaks the rules, punish THEM for that infraction but STOP punishing the families.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

And Justice for All….

The Utah Prison Support Group is working hard to change the way Offenders are sentenced in Utah. There has to be a better way and we are meeting with legislatures as well as the Commission on Criminal Justice to see that this better way is found.

We have followed the Prison Relocation Committee (PRADA) closely and have attended several of the Commission on Justice meetings.  In early spring of 2014 the group’s founder spoke at one of the public meetings of the Commission. At this meeting, more than 100 citizens were in attendance and approximately one fourth of them had the opportunity to speak. The consensus of those speaking was that there needs to be a reformation of the Utah Sentencing Guidelines. Many Offenders are being incarcerated far beyond the Sentencing Guideline Matrix and some are not spending any measurable time inside. This was brought to the attention of those sitting on the Governor appointed commission.

Here is an excerpt from our presentation at the meeting:

The following examples show the differences in sentencing. There are many of us who feel very strongly that the manner in which Criminal Sentencing is mandated by the Utah Legislature needs a major overhaul.
One evening a man and a woman began drinking. Later an argument began and escalated into a physical altercation. This altercation was not one sided, although the victim (the woman) said that it was. The man was arrested and placed in the County Jail.

A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered and the PSI stated that this man fell into the 24 month recommended time to serve on the Sentencing Commission matrix. His classification was Row 1, Category G.

Fast forward again to the sentencing. Oral arguments were made and one charge was merged. Because of this change, another PSI was ordered. Nothing changed in the investigator’s report; a good example of “copy and paste” by a state official. The recommended sentence was once again, 24 months as per the Sentencing Commission guidelines. Sentencing was pronounced and the indeterminate range of one to fifteen years was given. The man was committed to UDC. Six months later, an Original Hearing was held before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.  The hearing officer, in open court and on the record, stated that the recommended time was 24 months - his matrix time. Six weeks later, the Board of Pardons and Parole pronounced his fate: he would serve the entire 15 years with credit given for the time he had already served.
Now keep in mind, this man had NO prior criminal history. His prison record since being committed to UDC custody was, and still is, impeccable. None of this was taken into consideration at the time of the BOPP decision. What was taken into consideration was the revenge the victim wanted and that was gotten through once again, changing her story under oath. This happened in Utah County.

In a second scenario, a man was charged with Aggravated Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault – Domestic Violence, a F1 and F2 charge; Very similar to the first Offender. According to the story in the Salt Lake Tribune, “Police found the woman barely conscious in a bathtub…a security video showed the Offender dragging the woman back inside the apartment as she tried to crawl away, according to court documents.” Because of a plea bargain, this Offender received a sentence of one year in jail, 36 months probation and 50 hours of community service. This case was heard in Salt Lake County.

In a third case, also heard in Salt Lake County,  an Aggravated Assault - Domestic Violence case (F2), an Offender was given but 90 days in JAIL and ordered to complete 75 hours of community service. And this is after his victim received 65 staples to close a gash in her head!

Why the differences in sentencing? Seems that the Guidelines are clear as to what the Commission feels should be the punishment. Why is it ignored?

We have presented the Commission with viable alternatives and have gone on record that the Board of Pardon and Parole must be changed. The “Good ‘Ole Boys Club” no longer works in 21st Century sentencing!

Now, in order to help YOU, Utah Prison Support needs your help. We are currently gathering information on those Offenders who are over Sentencing Matrix. We will be compiling the facts and presenting them to the Commission on Criminal Justice. What do we need from you? We would like the following:
1.       Offender number
2.      Age
3.      Matrix recommended sentence
4.      BOPP decision
5.      Class of Offense: F1, F2, F3 and whether or not it was against a person
6.      Date of incarceration
7.      Date of next BOPP hearing
Please send to the address below. We would like to present the findings at the July Commission meeting in Salt Lake.

If you would like to receive the newsletter, "and Justice For All", please drop us a postcard requesting your name be added to the mailing list.

Utah Prison Support Group
PO Box 988
Gunnison, UT 84634

Friday, January 17, 2014

Yesterday, January 16th, I had the opportunity to speak before the Utah Prison Location Committee Consultant and several of the committee members. This is what I presented.

"I am the founder of the Utah Prison Support group, an organization whose mission is to assist Offenders’ Families with problems they might be having navigation the UDC system. Another main focus for my organization is Sentencing Reform and the need to revamp the way Offenders are sentenced here in Utah.

Utah does not need to move their prison. Utah needs to re-evaluate what is needed to assist these Offenders to make them productive members of society once they are released.

Several Correctional Officers testified at the September 16th meeting of this committee. At this time, they voiced their concerns about moving the prison to another location. Not only would a move affect these officers’ careers, it would have a huge impact on their family. Quality Officers are at a premium and Utah needs to do everything they can to keep them. If they leave because they cannot afford to travel to a remote site in all kinds of weather, than shame on you the Utah Law Makers!

Volunteers, the backbone of the programming at UDC would also face a hardship and dwindle. These people unselfishly give of their time, and money, to assist the Offenders. Without these Volunteers, the cost of incarceration would skyrocket even higher. Or on the other side of the scale, the Offenders would once again become nothing more than a barcode in a warehouse.

We cannot let this happen.

The recidivism rate in Utah is one of the highest in our country and we should be ashamed of that. According to an article published in the Salt Lake Tribune, a study, conducted between 2002 and 2012, 67% of new commitments to UDC were repeat offenders. Utah ranks second in the nation in sending parole violators back to prison. Many parole violators are returned to prison on technical infractions. Is sending them back to prison and creating an “overcrowded facility” on paper the answer? I say no.

At the September meeting, Mayor Ben McAdams spoke about the need to explore sentencing reform. I agree with him. Moving the prison is NOT the answer. The answer is reformation of the manner in which these Offenders are sentenced. Someone with numerous commitments during their lifetime is being paroled and the Offender who is a first time offender is being held far longer than the Sentencing Commission guidelines matrix.

Moving the prison is NOT the answer. UDC and the Legislature need to take a long hard look at the way the Board of Pardons is handing down sentencing. Indeterminate sentencing is not always the answer. A letter went out to every member of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee with a well written Dual Mode Sentencing proposal attached. I hope and pray that these members read the information that was sent.  And does it make sense financially, to keep Offenders in the prison at the cost of around $30,000 per year if there is an Immigration detainer on them?

Unfortunately, this all boils down to the mighty dollar! UDC makes money from these repeat offenders. Keeping a supply coming through the “revolving doors of UDC” is job security. Rather than spend money….the Utah taxpayers’ money --- to actually rehabilitate these Offenders, they give them band aids rather than a major dressing over their gaping wound. This has to stop.

Rather than moving the prison, update what is already there.
In December, an Offender was transported from Gunnison to Draper for a medical appointment. This was during one of the biggest snow storms of the season. Not only was the heat not working in A-West, there was snow actually coming in through a missing vent in the ceiling. Why not fix what is already there?  If it is beyond repair, replace it. Do not move the prison.

There has to be a better use of all of this money the Committee wants to spend. Educate the Offenders, do not just patch them up and hope for the best. Give them a marketable skill. Help them understand the why of their incarceration. But do not spend our hard earned money to move something that will only benefit those who sit on this committee. Several committee members have taken the “hurry up and let’s get this done” attitude and in researching these members, it was found that these same members are the ones who will benefit financially from this proposed move.

Even the cost of this consultant is extreme. A half of a million dollars of OUR money….for what? Add this cost to the already high mounting costs of the investigation of the former Attorney General, the cost to stay the same gender marriages and I can see Utah becoming bankrupt very quickly.

Please, look at what we already have. If something needs to be fixed physically… a building needs to be updated, torn down, or expand the Gunnison facility whatever… do it. Do not move this prison. We, the taxpayers do not want it. Use the proposed budget money to expand the educational programming at the prisons."

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 20, 2013 (The Huffington Post)
Nazgol Ghandnoosh, research analyst, and Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project write that while “there is a growing momentum for criminal justice reform…any optimism needs to be tempered by the very modest rate of decline.”
In 2012, the decline was 1.8 percent.  If that rate continues, the two conclude that “it will take until 2101 -- 88 years -- for the prison population to return to its 1980 level.
“We hear less ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric and budget-conscious conservatives are embracing sentencing reforms. The Attorney General has criticized aspects of the criminal justice system and directed federal prosecutors to seek reduced sanctions against lower-level offenders.
“In light of this, one would think we should celebrate the new figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showing a decline in the U.S. prison population for the third consecutive year. This follows rising prisoner counts for every year between 1973 and 2010. BJS reports that 28 states reduced their prison populations in 2012, contributing to a national reduction of 29,000. Beset by budget constraints and a growing concern for effective approaches to public safety, state policymakers have begun downsizing unsustainable institutional populations.
“The break in the prison population's unremitting growth offers an overdue reprieve and a cause for hope for sustained reversal of the nearly four-decade growth pattern.
“But the population in federal prisons has yet to decline. And even among the states, the trend is not uniformly or unreservedly positive. Most states that trimmed their prison populations in 2012 did so by small amounts -- eight registered declines of less than 1 percent. Further, over half of the 2012 prison count reduction comes from the 10 percent decline in California's prison population, required by a Supreme Court mandate.
“Given recent policy changes, why has there been such a small reduction in the number of people held in prisons? First, many sentencing reforms have understandably focused on low-level offenders.
“But most significantly, policymakers have neglected the bulk of those who are in state prisons: an aging population convicted of violent crimes or repeat offenses.

“Certainly the changing climate, new policies, and recent prisoner counts offer reason for encouragement. But unless we want to wait 88 years to achieve a sensible prison population, we need to accelerate the scale of reform.”

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 5, 2013……

A day that will forever be etched in the life of Ronald Faulkner.

This is the day that Mr. Faulkner will finally see the outside of the razor wire he has looked at since May 1998. You see, the Utah Board of Pardons charged Mr. Faulkner with an additional crime during his Parole Hearing. They were convinced that Mr. Faulkner THOUGHT about committing the additional act.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, the Board of Pardons and Parole is a committee of five people, appointed by the Governor to oversee the “sentencing” phase of Utah’s Indeterminate Sentencing. In Mr. Faulkner’s case, he was given a sentence of five years to life by his trial judge. This was for a 1st Degree Felony for Aggravated Burglary.

In September of 2009, Mr. Faulkner had his Board Hearing. At this hearing, the hearing officer, a Mr. Sullivan, decided that Mr. Faulkner was guilty of a crime of Sexual Aggravated Assault. The trial judge DID NOT sentence him on this….he was NEVER even charged with this offense!(The police report even stated that "no sexual intercourse took place".) Then the hearing officer gave a rehearing date to be held in twenty years! AND, he added that the Board would consider an early release if Mr. Faulkner completed the Sex Offender Treatment Program at the prison.

Now, this would be all well and good but in order to get into this program, the Offender has to CONFESS to committing the crime. And Mr. Faulkner was not CHARGED or CONVICTED of Sexual Aggravated Assault. So here begins the Catch 22 situation for Mr. Faulkner.

After many, many petitions to be heard, Mr. Faulkner finally won his opportunity for a rehearing which took place just a few weeks ago. Mr. Sullivan was not the Hearing Officer at this hearing and low and behold, the Board found that Mr. Faulkner had served his time and should have his Inmate Sentence TERMINATED IMMEDIATELY!

So, those who sit on the Board, take this as a lesson that you are not gods! You cannot and will not charge someone with something YOU think they might have THOUGHT about doing. In order for this system to work, the Board MUST NOT STAND AS JURY to those who come before them. They have already been adjudicated. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO ADD charges to those that brought the Offender before you in the first place.

Mr. Faulkner, good luck and thank you for being persistent!


This past weekend, I went to visit with my loved one at Central Utah Correctional Facility. When the guard, (oh, excuse me, officer), admitted him to the visiting room, he stopped and spoke with him. When my loved one reached our assigned table, he told me that he had to sit across from me.   I looked around and saw no less than five other Offenders visiting with their wife, girlfriend, etc. and they were not sitting across from one another. One couple was almost sitting on TOP of one another. Nothing was said to them.
Why is it that some Offenders have one set of rules and there is another set for others? Should there not be consistency among the Officers? It seems that this “rule” is only being taunted by one Sergeant. If he feels “threatened” by the outspokenness of the visitors, the rule comes into play. Why the favoritism? Why?

One can just look at the shoes of the Offenders to see who gets “preferred” treatment. How is wearing $200.00 Jordan’s approved by UDC? I know they cannot be ordered via commissary. How do they come in? They are being allowed to be ordered from outside somehow.

 Is the prison system so afraid of contraband being brought into the prison? Are they afraid that drugs are will be brought in? Better that they look at other avenues for these illegal substance entering the facilities because they are still coming in
 Visitors have gone through the main gate, the front desk, metal detector, x-ray machine for their shoes, gone through the locking doors and then to the visiting desk. The loved one has gone through similar security well as a pat down search before entering the visiting room. They are not even allowed to bring in their reading glasses! What is sitting beside a loved one going to do to compromise the security of the facility?

 It is a proven fact that Offenders who have constant contact…including close physical contacts... fair better in their rehabilitation. It is just INHUMANE to deny these people the touch of a loved one during the visit. I know, you will say, "We allow a hug and a kiss at the beginning and end of a visit.", but can you survive on only touching your loved one that little? Most of the people I have observed at CUCF are all respectable people. They are respectful of the family oriented atmosphere and act accordingly.

 Something is most definitely wrong. We, the visitors, do have common sense....for the most part. Please do not insult us by thinking otherwise!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013