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One of the biggest disappointments of the Utah legislative session earlier this year was the failure of lawmakers to pass DORA –the Drug Offender Reform Act. Lawmakers should expeditiously correct that oversight this week when they meet in special session.
For a modest investment now, DORA promises to save taxpayers and society millions of dollars in the future. And it wouldn’t take much. To satisfy wary lawmakers, DORA has been trimmed from a relatively costly statewide program to a proposed three-year pilot effort in the Third Judicial District. The cost: about $1.4 million annually.
Drug abuse leads to crime. More than 80 percent of those in prison have a foundational drug addiction. A large percentage of them are repeat offenders. DORA would attack the problem at its core! It would create a system for treating first time, non-violent drug offenders. Instead of doing jail time, they would undergo intensive drug treatment with the idea of helping them kick their habits. Supporters claim such early and intensive intervention would reduce rampant penal recidivism. In time it would reduce crime and open up much needed prison beds for other hardened criminals. Ultimately, money would be saved. KSL believes that claim! It is why we urge lawmakers to pass DORA.