Support juvenile justice reform and help Utah families.

Hello Representative, 

 

I'm a constituent of yours and I'm writing to ask you to support House Bill 239 sponsored by Representative Snow. 

 

This legislation modifies provisions related to juvenile justice, which will increase public safety, effectively hold juvenile offenders accountable, and focus juvenile justice system resources on programs that provide evidence based interventions that have shown rehabilitative success.

 

I understand the legislature has fewer resources to allocate this year than in years past but it is very important to me as your constituent that we try to find funding to support these initiatives.  Our juvenile justice system is in need of appropriate interventions on the front end and the youth we serve cannot wait.  Children who enter our system without appropriate interventions reoffend within two years and ultimately end up in the adult system.  We cannot address the needs of our justice system without recognizing young people are in need of our help to prevent their entry into the adult system.  We have an opportunity in HB239 to make significant changes on behalf of the children in our community.  The Governor’s Juvenile Justice Work Group report, which is the basis for the legislative changes in HB239, showed that risk levels are increasing at astonishing rates once a child enters our system.  The number of young people who enter the system as low risk compared to the number that exit high risk is shocking. In addition, too many children are being removed from their homes on low level offenses and technical violations when the research shows that interventions, which keep kids in their homes and their communities, have the best outcomes.  By implementing policies that keep children in the home, we will save money in the future.  Our current practices are costing taxpayers up to 17 times more than supervising youth living in their family homes. 

 

This legislation also recognizes the importance and need of specialized defense counsel for young people in the system.  Children are more amenable to change however the collateral consequences stemming from juvenile adjudications are impacting their ability to move forward as adults.  The court system is a scary and complicated maze for a child. The guiding hand of counsel is imperative to help ensure their rights are protected and they understand the process.  Young people will never learn from their mistakes if they do not understand the system.  Counsel for kids helps to ensure they are treated fairly and they participate in a meaningful way in the process.  

 

Thank you for all of the hard work you are doing on Capitol Hill.  I hope you'll support House Bill 239 when the time comes. 

 

Thank you.

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