Utah Department of Corrections Examine Budget, Committee Explores Cuts

Draper Prison

Correction: the original article stated that the Department of Corrections was seeking additional funds, however, the DOC was only presenting ideas on how to use funds already budgeted for. We incorrectly stated that the DOC was seeking new funds and apologize for the mistake. 

Representatives from the Department of Corrections were on hand at the Utah Legislature’s Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meeting Thursday afternoon to present their proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

They are suggesting that they use non-lapsing funds for security upgrades, leadership training, updated tactical vests, staff training, replacement of chairs and desks,  firearms maintenance equipment, and inmate programming resources.

A performance audit conducted by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General was also presented to the subcommittee. The audit, completed in September of 2013, found that the Utah Department of Corrections can greatly improve efficiency in several budget areas and save state funds.

Several recommendations were made. According to the Auditor General, John Schaff, the Draper prison spends more to feed inmates than the Gunnison facility. “Based on our analysis from 2008 through 2012, if Draper had costs per inmate per day similar to Gunnison’s costs, the facility likely would have reduced its overall costs by an average of $1 million annually [$5 million over the last five years].” The report also recommends that the Department of Corrections switch to a different offsite medical provider and reduce prescription drug costs for a combined savings of $471,000 annually.

Schaff also recommended reform in the Utah Correctional Industries (UCI) program. “During our limited review, UCI was not able to provide any statistics or measures of success for inmates who go through a UCI work program. It appears that UCI does not currently track how successful the programs are at preparing inmates for future employment. UCI should establish performance measures to track the success of programs, as well as the employment success of all inmates trained under UCI programs after they have been released from prison.”

The subcommittee requested additional information from the Department of Corrections about the proposed funding recommendations and will meet again Monday to discuss this and other issues.

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