UTAH, March 26, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Corrections is releasing 80 inmates to ease overcrowding within the prison system as confirmed cases of COVID-19 increase throughout the state, officials said Thursday.
“At this time there are no confirmed cases within the UDC facilities among either staff or inmates,” said a news release.
The UDC is making referrals to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole for release of inmates, who are already within 90 days of their scheduled release date and have an approved place to live once they get out.
“The Board shares the heightened concerns of advocates, loved ones and corrections professionals for the health and safety of incarcerated and community-based offenders during the current COVID-19 outbreak,” said Dennis Moxon, director of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. “Board staff are working closely with UDC to identify incarcerated persons whose early release would not jeopardize their successful completion of evidence-based programming or compromise public safety.”
Regardless of the approach applied, decisions in all board matters will continue to be made available through the board’s online hearing decisions search function here. Notice of the board’s final decisions in these matters will also be issued as Board Disposition Orders, which will be forwarded to each offender through their UDC Case Manager, the news release said.
At this time, approximately 80 referrals for these cases have been made to the UBOPP by the UDC, and it is anticipated that more will be released over the next month, the news release said. From there, UDC and UBOPP will collaborate to evaluate the situation and whether the process needs to be continued.
Any individuals granted release through these reviews have already been granted release dates and would otherwise be released to the community within the next few weeks.
“Our staff are dedicated to ensuring public safety, and have been working in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Utah Governor’s recommendations in order to release offenders safely, and provide a secure and healthy environment for those we supervise,” said Mike Haddon, executive director for the Utah Department of Corrections. “We’re working through an evolving situation, and we will continue to reevaluate our processes as the situation develops.”
These releases will begin April 2, and in a continued effort to limit the size of gatherings, release days will now be held twice a week with COVID-19 prevention protocols in place.
Other efforts by UDC in collaboration with BOPP and the Utah District Courts include revisiting the supervision of low-risk offenders on probation or parole and those who may have earned early termination by statute or guidelines to determine if they qualify for early release.
“Additionally, we continue to review protocols related to releases of offenders from Community Correctional Centers who meet certain criteria, which include evaluating public safety risk, having an approved address, and completing sufficient programming if a condition of their supervision,” the news release added.
The Board of Pardons and Parole is also making efforts to respond to COVID-19. For more details on those efforts, please visit their website.
If an offender has a scheduled release date, families can submit an address for approval here.
To find out if an offender has a scheduled release date, utilize the search decisions function on the BOPP website at bop.utah.gov.