DAVE & DUJANOVIC

New York City can learn from Utah about crime, says Davis County attorney

Jan 12, 2022, 5:36 PM
davis county prosecutor announces new conviction integrity unit...
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings announces the creation of a Conviction Integrity Unit during a press conference at the Davis County Administration Building in Farmington on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Downplaying or halting prosecutions of lower-level crimes to focus on felonies in the name of criminal justice reform can backfire. Utah learned that lesson the hard way. 

Newly sworn-in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the office will stop prosecuting people for theft of services, trespassing (unless it accompanies a stalking charge), aggravated unlicensed operation, routine traffic violations not accompanied by felony charges, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, and prostitution, according to Gothamist.

Bragg vowed instead to get tough on gun crimes and domestic violence. In a memo to staff, Bragg wrote: ” . . . reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer. ”

Utah’s approach to criminal justice reform began with the Justice Reinvestment Initiative of 2015 and was put into action by House Bill 348.

In 2020, Utah saw a 44% increase in the number of homicides, according to the State Bureau of Criminal Identification. The state experienced 93 homicides that year, and a firearm was used in 67% of those killings, according to Deseret News.

Ask the expert

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings joins Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic on Dave & Dujanovic to discuss the uptick in violent crime.

Rawlings said the goal of JRI in 2015 was laudable — rehabilitating offenders and getting their lives back on track — but the funding component to enact the reform initiatives was missing.

“We reduced a lot of felonies to misdemeanors, some misdemeanors down to lower misdemeanors,” Rawlings said. “The idea was to try to help people basically not have such significant consequences but focus on treatment or rehabilitation. [But] the funding piece for the treatment and rehabilitation just didn’t materialize like it was supposed to have.”

He said the Legislature is touring different jurisdictions throughout the state to review and correct the justice reform legislation of 2015.

“The goal was good, the execution was poor,” Rawlings said.

Dave made the point that rapists, murderers, and armed robbers started their criminal history with lower-level offenses.

Rawlings agreed. “It’s a very rare case where someone goes from zero to 100,” he said. 

On lower-level misdemeanors escalating to felonies, Rawlings cited the example of prostitution leading to human trafficking.

“We call these misdemeanors-gateway crimes,” he said.

Did the crime but not the time

“The district attorney’s plan in Manhattan is to reduce crimes. We already did that here in Utah six years ago, and now we’re seeing the fallout,” Debbie pointed out. “A lot of these criminals are not serving to time, am I right?”

“We reduced consequences across the board,” Rawling said. “We didn’t fund the treatment like it was supposed to be. So basically, we’re pretty much giving them a pass — in large part that’s what happened in Utah.”

Related:

SWAT standoff in Sandy ends peacefully

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

be ready utah...
Curt Gresseth

Are you ready when an emergency strikes at work?

Two professionals give insight and advice on being ready for an emergency while at work.
4 days ago
Las Vegas pushes to become first to ban ornamental grass...
Curt Gresseth

Fight the drought, install artificial turf. Landscape expert shares advice.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s ongoing, historic drought and water restrictions in your city have turned your green lawn yellow. You’ve contemplated planting native grasses and shrubs, but you want a covering you can walk and play on. Why not install artificial turf?  Landscape expert Bill Holland joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic […]
5 days ago
buffalo shooter...
Becky Bruce and Mark Jones

Former U.S. Attorney says shootings such as the one in Buffalo are hard to predict

Shootings such as the one in Buffalo are hard to predict, says John Huber, former U.S. District Attorney for the District of Utah.
6 days ago
children at work Utah...
Curt Gresseth

In some instances, children as young as age 10 can work in Utah

Children as young as 10 are legally allowed to work in Utah. A spokesman for the Utah Labor Commission shares the rules for child workers in the state.
6 days ago
supermoon lunar eclipse map...
Curt Gresseth

Be over the moon because total lunar eclipse coming Sunday to Utah

Patrick Wiggins, NASA solar system ambassador to Utah, explains what a total lunar eclipse is and when it can be witnessed Sunday night in Utah -- provided the skies are clear.
9 days ago
mannequins...
Curt Gresseth

Inflation is latest challenge South Salt Lake restaurant taking in stride.

The general manager of the Left Fork Grill, a restaurant in South Salt Lake, sits down to talk about the eatery's tale of survival in overcoming inflation, COVID, supply- chain strain, a worker shortage and neighborhood construction.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

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?
...

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.
...

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.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
New York City can learn from Utah about crime, says Davis County attorney