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Utah County Jail

3075 North Main Street
Spanish Fork, UT 84660
(801) 851-4200

Interview with Ron, Amber and Debra

JM: How long was your sentencing for?
Ron: One year.
Amber: My sentencing was the second time I went to court so probably like 10 mins
Debra: My sentencing was for two years in prison.

JM: Did you spend time in a holding cell after your sentencing? If so, what was that like? If you didn't where did they they take you instead?
Ron: Yes, I was in a holding cell at the Provo court house for about two hours. There was a couple of guys in there and a girl. They were all talking about their cases and charges and I learned a lot about the legal system since they had all spent a lot of time in jail prior. Sad that fellow inmates seemed to know better how the system worked than my own attorney.
Amber: No, I didnt spend any time in a holding cell, after my sentencing I was released the same day of my sentencing due some mental problems that I have.
Debra: I spent two hours in a holding cell after my sentencing. I was changed up by my hands and feet in front of others that are in there. I had to go to the bathroom like that.

The Utah County Jail is the second largest jail in Utah (the largest is in Salt Lake). For better or for worse UCJ is a pioneer in implementing new programs with a varying level of success.

Jail Industries
Many jails around the country offer work release programs but for inmates who either do not have a job that qualifies for Work Release or have not been granted this privilege from a judge the jail allows inmates who exhibit model behavior to work for a local business (under closely supervised conditions). Typically it will take at least a couple of months for an inmate to work their way into the JI program. Once in the program they are kept in a separate facility (shared with Work Release inmates) enjoying a more comfortable environment than the main jail. The slightest infraction can result in an inmate being "rolled up" and sent back to General Population.

Inmates who participate in JI typically say that their jail time goes by faster and, more importantly, they learn marketable skills that help them find jobs after release. Some inmates have even been hired on by the local business they are working for after release. Having a job upon release has been proven by study after study to reduce the chances of an inmate reoffending. Critics of the program don't think that inmates should be offered a way to interact with non-inmates (inmates work alongside regular citizens in the program) though because of the tough selection criteria (flight risk inmates are not eligible, for instance) there have been very few reported incidents.

Pay to Stay
A more divisive program implemented by the jail is "Pay to Stay," which went into effect in 2007. Inmates held on misdemeanor charges must pay a fee for every day they are incarcerated. If they have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors they will only pay the fine if the sentence is run consecutive (and then only for the time they are serving for the misdemeanor).

In reality it is unlikely that many inmates are subject to Pay to Stay. Contrary to what most people think most inmates in county jails these days are serving time for felonies. It is the rare misdemeanor these days which draws a significant jail sentence. Also, inmates who work in the kitchen, laundry, Jail Industries or Work Release are not subject to the Pay to Stay fees. If you have a friend or family member unlucky enough to be subject to this fee (actually, they are very lucky not to have been convicted of a felony) they cannot receive money on their books or order commissary until the fee is paid.

The Garden
At one point the jail had a garden where they raised fresh fruits and vegetables that were used to offset the cost of feeding the inmates. The crops were planted, cared for and harvested by inmates under guard supervision. It is not clear whether the jail still runs this program although an article from 2010 mentions the jail's 10-acre garden.

The various programs instituted by the Utah County Jail show the priority of the jail to reduce the burden on the tax payers for housing criminals. Critics point out, though, that in many cases the families of those who are incarcerated bear the burden of these programs and in some cases the victims themselves may have a hard time collecting restitution when an inmate is released with a large bill from the jail.

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