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S.L. County D.A. joins national call for (better) justice for all

FILE: Handcuffs at the Oquirrh 1 housing facility at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — How can taxpayers across the nation get a better return on their investment in the US criminal justice system? A top Utah crime fighter provided insights on KSL NewsRadio.

Nationwide, 107 criminal justice leaders – including current and former elected prosecutors, police chiefs, sheriffs, former Department of Justice officials – sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to establish a Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Prosecution before the end of the year. The task force would operate outside of the Justice Department.

Justice for all? Criminal justice reform in the news

Gill police

Salt Lake County D.A. Sim Gill during a Sept. 4 press conference.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill joined Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson to discuss how a task force would help better provide liberty and justice for all.

He said the aim of the task force is to create national standards for cohesion and uniformity in delivering on the promise of justice in the US criminal justice system.

The United States detains 2.3 million people in prisons, jails and other confinement facilities, more than any other democratic nation.

Gill added US taxpayers spend more than $182 billion a year on the criminal justice system.

“I think it’s legitimate to ask what are we getting in a return on that investment?”  he said.

Gill said although prosecutors’ job is to incarcerate the guilty, attention needs to be paid to a former prisoner’s reentry into society. That way, we can all ensure the punishment doesn’t spread beyond the crime.

If “they can’t get a job, their poverty then is passed on inter-generationally, which we as the taxpayers pick up,” he added. 

In such cases, the punishment for the crime is borne by communities, especially those of color, Gill said.

Smarter crime fighting

With a pretrial diversion, Gill said an offender is still responsible for his or her criminal actions. However, that happens without a trial and conviction, bypassing traditional criminal justice processing. 

Another type of return on investment to Salt Lake County taxpayers is The District Attorney Victim Services Program.

Gill mentioned Camp Hope where 62 children of trauma got to have fun and make friends in the Uinta Mountains earlier this summer. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office secured $500,000 in grants to host the kids’ getaway.

Related:

Camp new to Utah helps kids move past abuse and make new memories

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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