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Rep. Clancy creates working group to address recidivism, reentry among former inmates

By Carlene Coombs - | May 31, 2024

Carlene Coombs, Daily Herald

Rep. Tyler Clancy opens a working group on recidivism and reentry at the Utah State Capitol on Friday, May 31, 2024.

In an effort to address recidivism, when convicted criminals reoffend, and improve formerly prisoners’ reentry into the community, Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, has organized a working group to brainstorm solutions.

The group met Friday morning for the first time, with about 40 people attending, including government officials, business owners, people who have been incarcerated and public safety representatives.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections, over 60% of offenders entering Utah’s corrections system in 2023 did so due to parole violations.

Friday’s discussion centered around updates on recent reforms — such as creating a division of reentry in the Department of Corrections — and brainstorming ways to understand the issue and how to address it.

“We have to do a better job for someone who is incarcerated, from providing treatment to education to work opportunities and focusing on preparing them from day one as they come into the prison to prepare them to go back out into the community,” said Brian Redd, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections. “We can’t just do that 30 days before they’re being released.”

Carlene Coombs, Daily Herald

Rep. Tyler Clancy talks with delegates at the Utah County Republican Convention on April 20, 2024.

Redd said, in the past, reentry was addressed toward the end of a prisoner’s sentence and was made up of more technical tasks like ensuring inmates have their identification or access to rehab.

Now, he said, the department is working toward starting the reentry process at the beginning of a person’s jail time by providing access to programs that prepare them to reenter the community.

Mo Egan, who works with The Other Side Village in Salt Lake City, said during the meeting that beginning the reentry process right away is key.

“The big thing is that if you don’t start with reentry upon entry, you totally missed the mark,” he said. “It’s way too late.”

Egan also shared insights as someone who had been incarcerated before, saying trust needs to be built at the beginning of the process and peer support also is important.

Destiny Garcia, executive director of Clean Slate Utah, said more should be done to help former inmates obtain employment, noting that finding a job can be difficult after a person is convicted of a crime.

“Most times, a lot of these people go back to the same behaviors that they learned to make their money because nobody will give it the opportunity, even though they have gone years crime-free in order to reintegrate back into their families, back into the community,” she said.

Shianne Anderson, who works with the Tooele County Detention Center helping people find resources when leaving the jail, also agreed with Garcia.

“We’re given this idea that we’re not worth that much because of our criminal history or our trauma, and I’m finding that those are the prerequisites for me to sit in this seat today,” said Anderson, who has been incarcerated before. “It gives me an edge that half the people in this room don’t have, and that makes me valuable. But nobody’s saying that to people like me”

Clancy said Friday’s meeting was a “launching point” for more discussion, data collection and policy changes. Soon, they’ll create “subgroups” to begin discussing specific issues, he said.

The Provo representative and police officer said he decided to organize the group due to his personal and law enforcement experience.

“We have a revolving door in our criminal justice system, where someone is arrested for burglary and then the minute they get out, within a week, they’re going back out and committing new crimes,” Clancy said. “Those are new victims that are created.”

In regard to getting funding for new programs, Clancy said he hopes his legislative colleagues will support putting money into addressing the issue once they see the data. He said three data points they want to look at are housing, employment and reoffending, with the hope of seeing an increase in housing and employment and a decrease in reoffenses.

Clancy said he’s already opened a bill file for the 2025 legislative session to begin implementing policy changes the group comes up with.

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