Q3 Topic 1: Reducing Utah Incarceration RatesUtah has made efforts to reduce incarceration through legislation passed in 2015 known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). The legislation aimed to reverse Utah’s trend of prison population growth at six times faster than the national average. Now law, the JRI changed sentencing and parole guidelines and created program oversight to reduce incarceration and recidivism.As County Attorney, you will have the power to change office policy on many aspects of criminal prosecutions. For example, recently elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner issued a memorandum to his staff outlining when to decline certain charges, when to offer diversions, and guidelines for plea offers and sentencing arguments. The policy changes are an acknowledgment of and an effort to end mass incarceration.
How will you incorporate the JRI’s goals of reducing incarceration and recidivism into your local County Attorney policies?
JRI's goals are already being realized across Utah with lower incarceration both through changes in the law and sentencing recommendations by Adult Probation and Parole. The issues that Wasatch County is faced with is having and funding treatment along with private probation for individuals convicted of crimes. My office policies will be to convict those that have broken the law and work with local law enforcement and other agencies to look for treatment options.
Q4 Do you support alternatives to incarceration?
Q5 If yes, what alternatives to incarceration do you support?
Other (please specify):
I support several of the alternatives listed such as Community Service, Drug Court, Work Release and GPS. Wasatch County does not have resources for Mental Health Court.
Q6 Topic 2: Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice SystemThe Justice Reinvestment Initiative’s 2017 Annual Report found that the percentage of minorities newly committed to prison has increased from 34% to 43% since 2015, the year the JRI became Utah law. Before that time, the percentage of newly committed minorities had been stable at 34%. (Note that 2016 census estimates show that minorities only account for approximately 21% of Utah's population).
What will you do as the County Attorney to prevent the racial disparities noted in the JRI's Annual Report from happening in your county?
I will not consider race in charging and prosecuting crime. I will only consider if there is evidence that the law has been violated in bring charges against any defendant.
Q7 Do you believe that racial disparities currently exist in your county’s criminal justice system?
Q8 Topic 3: Prosecutorial Misconduct Prosecutorial misconduct has been a concern nationally, which has led to the formation of Conviction Integrity Units in many prosecutor offices to review allegations of misconduct. Prosecutorial misconduct has also been a concern in Utah where the Board of Utah County Commissioners has considered forming a prosecutorial oversight committee.
As County Attorney, what will you do to ensure that your office is transparent and accountable to accusations of prosecutorial misconduct?
I will have weekly meetings with my prosecutors where we will discuss cases and any concerns. No prosecutorial misconduct will be tolerated.
Q9 Do you believe that claims of prosecutorial misconduct should be handled by an internal review board, such as a Conviction Integrity Unity?
Q10 Do you believe that claims of prosecutorial misconduct should be handled by an external review board, like the one proposed in Utah County?