One of the most important duties of the county is ensuring public safety for all our residents. That’s why criminal justice is one of my priorities as a County Council member. Adequate resources in our county jail to take dangerous criminals off the streets, as well as tools to help others who have made mistakes move toward rehabilitation and reintegration as productive members of society, are just two of the key roles of our county.
I’m also deeply committed to criminal justice reform. We’ve long known that merely locking people up doesn’t necessarily lead truly fixing the cycle of criminal behavior that is a part of life for some of our residents. This is particularly true when it comes to drug abuse. It’s important that we find ways to help people take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable, but then empower them to improve their life. The goal is for any county resident who exits our criminal justice system after paying their debt to society to never enter the system again.
That’s why I’m encouraged by the great work in the county’s Intensive Supervision Probation program. This program takes a high risk/high need population and couples their substance abuse treatment with other aggressive interventions like home visits, worksite visits, and more. The goal is to create a more powerful relationship between the case managers/officers and the participants in the program.
One way our county Criminal Justice Services and Behavioral Health Services experts measure outcomes is through “risk scores” of program graduates. This risk scores can help indicate the likelihood of someone reoffending in the future. For graduates of the Intensive Supervision Probation program (also called “ISP”), we’ve seen a 45% reduction in risk scores.
Eighty six percent of graduates are receiving a clinical assessment, and 73% are actively engaged in treatment. We’ve had over 600 referrals in the program since it started in July of 2015.
One success story involves a client who was married with two young daughters. He struggled for several years with an addiction to meth, and had several run-ins with the law. He finally hit rock bottom when his children began getting bullied because their father was a drug addict. Unless he made some drastic changes, he would risk losing his family. This client agreed to go to Volunteers of America for detox, in order to be at a place where he could enter treatment.
After more than a year at a residential treatment facility, he finally graduated from his treatment program, having beat his addiction. He reconciled with his wife and kids, got a full time job, and was able to pay for an apartment for him and his family.
These are the success stories that give me hope that we can make tangible differences in our community by empowering residents who are ready to change their lives.
We’ll continue to track the outcomes of this program and report back to the public, but I’m excited by the promising results so far. When you look at approaches like this in the context of our state and nation’s opioid crisis, these tools are particularly encouraging. In fact, over one third of all ISP participants are working on recovery from an opioid addiction.
We’ll also always be looking at innovative new approaches to drug addiction, in the broader context of reforming the criminal justice system and reducing recidivism. In the meantime, hats off to the people running our Intensive Supervision Probation program, as well as the clients who have succeeded.
*Originally published in City Journals
Our greatest role—whether as parents, educators, or elected officials—is to protect our children from harm as we help them grow into adults who live, work, and raise a family. Unfortunately, the child abuse stats in Utah are staggering.
Nationally 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Utah’s child sexual abuse rate is three times the national average. These numbers demonstrate the stark reality of child abuse, and reinforce why it is so important for the community to spread awareness and take steps to end it. In Utah we often want to bury our head in the sand and assume that it won’t happen to our kids. Child sexual abuse can happen to anyone and it’s important to be educated.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and each year it offers a new opportunity to further educate our county and state about this issue, and offer a call to action. We need to bring attention to the more 3,708 confirmed child victims of abuse in Salt Lake County alone in 2016.
The bottom line is this: all children deserve to grow up in homes where they are safe and nurtured, and free from any form of abuse. The research is staggering about the negative long-term impacts of adverse childhood experiences, also known as “ACEs.”
ACEs include any form of abuse, neglect, domestic abuse toward the mother, substance abuse in the home, and more. A child who experiences ACEs has a higher chance of learning or behavioral issues later in life. If we want our kids to have the best chance of leading productive, innovative, and health and happy lives as adults, we should seek ways to reduce ACEs as much as possible.
Prevent Child Abuse Utah is one organization that seeks to do that by education children, parents, and teachers about the risks and impacts of child abuse, as well as ways to prevent it. Since child abuse can be a particularly debilitating form of adverse childhood experiences, it is important that we take prevention seriously.
I’ve been particularly impressed with Prevent Child Abuse Utah as they’ve gone school to school throughout Utah educating teachers and kids about the issue. Part of this includes helping children understand what child abuse actually is, and to know what to do if they ever experience it. Empowering children with the knowledge they need to protect themselves is vital.
I’ve been so impressed with Prevent Child Abuse Utah that I’ve served on their board for the last couple years, trying to help advance their mission. I would encourage all of our residents to spend 30 minutes taking the free, online parent course. You can find it at pcautah.org.
I fully believe that we can end child abuse in Utah. It starts with education, continues with prevention, and ends with every child growing up in a safe, nurturing environment free from any form of abuse.
Aimee Winder Newton has been serving on the Salt Lake County Council since January 2014. She is the current chair of the council. Her district encompasses Murray, Taylorsville, West Valley City and West Jordan, and a small portion of South Salt Lake and Millcreek... [read more]
|Aimee Winder Newton||
aimee winder newton: County Council district 3