Salt Lake County Jail Programs for Inmates

As we’ve written about in previous articles, inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail can shave time off their sentences by participating in jail programs like Life Skills and CATS (Correctional Addiction Treatment Services).  In addition to shortening inmates’ sentences, these programs also help inmates prepare for a successful release from incarceration by teaching key skills.  In this article, a Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer will explain how CATS and Life Skills work at the Salt Lake County Jail.

DOGS and CATS Treatment Programs for Drug Crime Offenders

Both inmates and jail personnel have an incentive to keep the CATS program alive.  According to the Salt Lake County Jail Programs Division’s most recent annual report (published in 2010), “Recidivism rates among prisoners who complete the CATS programs is 19% lower than the general population.”  For inmates, that means reducing the likelihood of being arrested for additional crimes in the future.  For jail personnel – and for the Salt Lake County Council, which is tasked with making budgetary decisions – that means reducing overcrowding at Salt Lake County Jail, a problem which has plagued the facility for decades.

As described by the 2010 report, “CATS is a 90-day Therapeutic Community Model program, focusing on drug offenders with the highest severity of addictions.”  Funding for CATS come from the Salt Lake County Division of Substance Abuse.

According to the 2010 data, most inmates who participated in CATS went on to successfully graduate from the program:

  • 523 out of 713 male participants graduated from CATS (73.4%)
  • 107 out of 170 female participants graduated from CATS (63%)

As a counterpart to CATS, the jail also offers an alternative drug program called DOGS: Drug Offender Group Services.  If an inmate’s sentence isn’t long enough to qualify him or her for CATS participation,  the inmate can potentially join DOGS instead.  DOGS involves four weekly sessions which last for 90 minutes each.

The Life Skills Program

While touted as “one of the most successful,” CATS is not the Salt Lake County Jail’s only program for inmates.  Life Skills – “ a four-week, 150-hour program designed to provide students with the tools necessary to successfully reintegrate back into society” – is another program with high participation (and graduation) rates.  According to the 2010 data, 195 out of 323 participants graduated from the program for a graduation rate of 60.4%.

Crucially, Life Skills can also help connect inmates with jobs when they are released from incarceration.  Life Skills puts inmates through mock job interviews, so that they are better prepared for real interviews when they leave the jail.

By putting former inmates on firmer employment ground, Life Skills decreases the chance of re-offending.  It also helps former inmates circumvent the issue of being turned down for jobs because of their criminal histories.  According to the 2010 report, 31 out of 53 inmates were successfully referred or placed in jobs (58.5%).

In addition to increasing the likelihood of successfully finding employment upon release, Life Skills also covers the following topics:

    • Finances
    • Health
    • Parenting
    • Psychology

How Much Can an Inmate Shorten Their Sentence at the Salt Lake County Jail?

Not only are inmates who complete CATS less likely to face future charges – they can also shorten their sentences and get out of jail earlier.  As the jail’s official regulatory handbook provides, “At the discretion of the Jails, Good Time [time off a sentence] may be awarded for participation or completion/graduation of approved programs,” including CATS.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

By earning Good Time through successful completion of CATS “and other approved programs,” Salt Lake County Jail inmates can potentially reduce their sentences by as much as 10 days per each 30 days of their original sentence, or 10 days off per month served.  Depending on the severity of the crime the inmate was convicted of, that translates to the following maximum sentence reductions:

  • Class C Misdemeanor
    • Examples – Public Intoxication, Driving with a Suspended License
    • Normal Sentence – 90 days (3 months)
    • Shortened Sentence – 60 days (2 months)
  • Class B Misdemeanor
    • Examples – Simple Assault, Simple Drug Possession (e.g. marijuana, under one ounce)
    • Normal Sentence – 180 days (6 months)
    • Shortened Sentence – 120 days (4 months)
  • Class A Misdemeanor
    • Examples – Theft ($500 – $1,499), Weapons Possession (firearm/shotgun on school grounds)
    • Normal Sentence – 365 days (1 year)
    • Shortened Sentence – 245 days (about 8 months)

If one of your loved ones is being held at the Guide to Salt Lake County Jail, our criminal defense attorneys may be able to help.  It may be possible to shorten your loved one’s sentence, or to lower their bail if they have not been convicted.  To set up a free and confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson & Bugden today at (801) 758-2287.