Salt Lake County is bringing on 37 new residential
treatment beds for eligible individuals who have been arrested during Operation
Already a team of more than 40 professionals including
lawyers, social workers and criminal justice employees have organized a space
in the jail to identify and assess eligible individuals for referral to
substance use treatment.
Public safety in the Rio Grande area, including less
crime and fewer victims of crime, is the reason the city, county and state
embarked on Operation Rio Grande, to reduce lawlessness and danger in the city.
However, everything we have learned after years of trying
to address these problems, tells us that we cannot arrest our way out of this
problem. The short term gain of locking
nonviolent people up, brings long term pain, as the fallout from merely
arresting and jailing these individuals plays out in our community.
We know from many studies that treatment programs can
reduce costs –both human and economic.
As the county mayor charged with delivering vital
behavioral health and other services, I am responsible for understanding and
getting to the root of the problem and then implementing solutions.
One solution is a new drug specialty court – to hold
accountable individuals who agree to enter treatment and change their course
away from repeat crime, arrest and punishment towards recovery and
In less than 14 days, eligible individuals will be
connected to a structured treatment program. They’ll be assigned a case
manager, peer mentor, behavioral health treatment services and a specially
trained officer to help them stay engaged and be held accountable.
Studies repeatedly show that more access to treatment for
substance use disorders reduces crime in communities. For every dollar spent on
treatment, up to three dollars are saved in crime reduction.
We’re beginning to see meaningful reinvestment in
treatment that we know is critical to public safety, more efficient use of tax
dollars and measurably better lives for people who seek recovery and a return