Monday, 23 May 2011

Salt lake County Floats Treatment Center Idea

Few things in life make a hardcore political geek like myself squeal with glee like good policy.

Perhaps the best policy proposal (it's still technically more of a goal or pipe dream) I've seen in recent memory got a pretty thorough write-up in today's SL Tribune:

It’s not a jail. It’s not quite a halfway house, either.

The latest innovation in Salt Lake County’s criminal-justice system may combine elements of both in a "community corrections center" designed to help convicted wrongdoers who wrestle with drug addictions or mental health problems break free from their criminal past.

It would offer the county a cellblock-free brand of incarceration that would focus on drug treatment, mental health counseling, job training and life skills in a less-restrictive environment, allowing inmates to transition into the community while serving their sentences.

They're taking this idea seriously enough that the County is scoping out possible properties for the facility, and County Mayor Peter Corroon is taking a trip to the northwest to visit a facility that works on this model.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder usually specializes in good policy to the extent that he can: he is a fiscal conservative who has shrunk the SL County law enforcement budget, so Republicans love him. He's also surprisingly supportive of civil liberties, and has reduced hard-core enforcement of small time marijuana possession and other crimes that are often overreacted to, so lefties are pretty fond of him too.

Winder, being Winder, expressed support for the project but wondered how we can fund it. Since the price tag for the center is estimated to be $40 million, I think a bond measure wouldn't be unreasonable as a starting point.

Good policy - I love it! Keep up the good work, Salt Lake!

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