Today, Utah’s legislature passed House Bill 239 to improve the state’s treatment of juvenile offenders and reduce crime among young offenders. The bill received strong votes in both chambers, sailing to Governor Herbert’s desk.
Utah has been aggressively reforming their criminal justice system, this newest piece applies the lessons from previous successes to the juvenile system. The bill scales back incarcerating juveniles over status offenses, such as truancy, to focus resources on youths who require a higher level of attention. Rather than taking a student directly to court, early interventions and diversions will give parents resources to correct their children’s behavior.
According to the Utah Juvenile Justice Working Group, HB 239 is projected to save taxpayers $58 million over 5 years. In the meantime juveniles are given better resources to turn their lives around, and public safety is enhanced. The working group was established in 2016 at the behest of Governor Herbert in order to look at the state’s juvenile justice system and formulate recommendations to improve results.
Americans for Tax reform applauds these positive steps and hopefully this is a prologue to more legislation to come.