Salt Lake County unveils criminal justice diversion program

Jul 30, 2019, 6:33 PM | Updated: Jul 31, 2019, 5:52 am
Buttigieg endorsement...
FILE: DA Sim Gill and County Mayor Jenny Wilson releasing the details of the diversion program July 30, 2019. (Paul Nelson)
(Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Prosecutors hope a new pilot program will go a long way in reducing the crowding inside the Salt Lake County Jail.  Plus, they say it offers people accused of low-level crimes more chances to avoid facing charges.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says there’s a difficult balancing act when it comes to placing people inside the jail.  He says prosecutors in other cities have declared they won’t prosecute low-level crimes, but Gill thinks that’s a bad idea.  He says it sends a bad message about public safety.  However, he says not all criminals deserve the same level of incarceration.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is to not co-mingle people with different levels of risks and needs,” he says, adding, “I want to have that jail bed for a person who is a genuine risk to the community, not [just] a person whose conduct we don’t like or disapprove of, someone who is mentally ill or a non-violent offender.”

Starting Monday, the DA’s office will launch a “diversion program” that will allow people accused of petty crimes to avoid charges, as long as they comply with certain requirements.  For instance, they have to attend classes that address their criminal behavior about how they should change it.  This would apply to only non-violent misdemeanors or third degree felonies.

Gill says, “You’ve got Class A misdemeanors for simple possession.  You’ve got trespassing.  You’ve got public intoxication.  You’ve got retail theft.  You’ve got a whole host of misdemeanor behavior.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson says many inmates in the jail were arrested after making a series of bad decisions, like taking drugs, and they need help that the jail can’t provide.

“These aren’t hardened criminals.  These aren’t people that end up in a situation that threatens society,” she says.

People enrolled in the program would also get help in finding work or finding educational opportunities.  Gill estimates 750 people would be helped by this program within the first year and he believes people arrested during Operation Rio Grande would benefit the most.

Today’s Top Stories


salt lake mayorMendenhall guns...
Curt Gresseth

After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights

Two advocates on either side of the gun-control vs. gun rights debate sound off on the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling to expand the right to carry a firearm in public.
1 day ago
gun rights Utah abortion Boston Christian flag...
JESSICA GRESKO Associated Press

Supreme Court expands gun rights, striking down New York limits

The justices' 6-3 decision is expected to allow more people to legally carry guns on the streets of the nation's largest cities.
1 day ago
Petito lawsuit...
Maria Cartaya, CNN

A Florida judge is expected to make a decision in coming weeks on a lawsuit by Gabby Petito’s parents

Petito, whose disappearance last summer gripped the nation, was found dead in Wyoming after embarking on a cross-country trip with Laundrie, her fiance.
1 day ago
emotional abuse moab police petito domestic violence strangulation gabby petito investigation...
Amie Schaeffer

Wednesday’s hearing in Petito case to determine if suit will move forward

The wrongful death lawsuit in the Gabby Petito case was filed by Petito's parents in March of 2022. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
2 days ago
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Justices rule religious schools must get Maine tuition aid

The most immediate effect of the court's ruling beyond Maine probably will be felt next door in Vermont, which has a similar program.
3 days ago
kitchen codify gay marriage utah...
Amanda Dickson

Senator Derek Kitchen: Utah has a “trigger ban” on marriage equality

A Utah state senator is concerned that contained in the Utah constitution is a "trigger ban" on marriage equality.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Salt Lake County unveils criminal justice diversion program