Salt Lake County unveils criminal justice diversion program

Jul 30, 2019, 6:33 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:27 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.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

savings system right on the money...
Mark Jones

Economists are worried of a recession in 2023, financial expert weighs in

Many economists are fearing a recession in 2023 despite the U.S. economy ending last year better than expected.
1 day ago
The Utah Education Association is opposed to H. B. 215. The UEA says school choice and a teacher pa...
Devin Oldroyd

School choice bill is “limiting” public schools, UEA president says

Utah Education Association president Renee Pinkney says the controversial school choice bill is "weakening" and "limiting" public schools.
1 day ago
Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork is pictured on Friday March 12, 2021. Students at Spanish ...
Mark Jones

Concurrent enrollment provides students with options in Nebo School District

Programs such as concurrent enrollment can give high school students and their parents options.
1 day ago
artificial intelligence banjo...
Curt Gresseth

ChatGPT: Plagiarism super-tool for students or AI brainstorming generator?

Will the future of AI be the interactive chatbot ChatGPT helping cheaters ace exams and tests or a new tool to assist all students in learning?
1 day ago
Elizabeth Weiler

UTA board looks at FrontRunner expansion in Utah County

Utah County is the fastest growing county in the state so UTA is considering a number of expansions to their current FrontRunner and bus lines. 
1 day ago
Lehi City officials have closed a portion of westbound 1500 North to repair a large sinkhole. On it...
Simone Seikaly

Large sinkhole shuts down portion of westbound 1500 North in Lehi

Lehi City officials said the sinkhole formed on 1500 North due to a water leak.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Salt Lake County unveils criminal justice diversion program