To: Sen. Weiler, T.,
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My name is Karen Douglas, I was writing about some of the subjects being discussed at the next legislature session.
First I would like to talk about dismantling the board of Pardons. In Utah we have what is called indiscriminant sentences, a person convicted of a crime is giving a time frame for release from prison. for most first deg felony it is 5 years to life. I find this has two problems first the power is taken away from the judge to look at all aspects of the crime. He is no longer allowed to look at the victims wishes and the restitution they feel is needed. I feel the most important thing the court system can give a victim is a voice in what they would like to happen. Some judges may feel a lesser amount of time in prison, and then other ways of making restitution would be better in the case. Next is the affect it has the person being convicted. I read a book by Viktor Frankl called MAN SEARCH FOR MEANING. This book is written by a psychiatrist who spent years in a Nazi Prison camp. The thing that stood out the most is the fact that he states that the worse form of torture he and other suffered was not being starved, worked to death, sent to the gas chambers or any of the other horrible things they lived though but was just not knowing when it would end. Our goal for prison is to reform those who have caused harm to others and help them to become good citizens. We need to remember that if we take hope away form them they will have no reason to change. It has been my experience that the board of pardons is inconsistent, a prisoner can take classes and try very hard to make changes and live by the rules in prison. then be given a long time for a rehearing by the board. Or they can do nothing to try to make changes in their life and be given a released date. There is many personal factors that the board is using that have nothing to do with the persons crime, the victims wishes or how they are trying to changing. Some prisoners my be released at the time of their matrix , this is I worksheet used at time of sentencing that takes all the fact into consideration and give a suggestion as to a proper release time as well as suggestions as to classes the prisoner needs to take. It is cheaper and better to correct the action of the convicted person not just keep them lock away. The problem I see is the board may or may not use the matrix when making there decisions. the board of pardons is appointed and the public has no recourse if they do not agree in the dissions they make a judge is voted on therefore giving that accountability factor. Let me state again I feel the board of pardons and the indeterminate sentencing needs to be changes.
I also feel the state should think about expanding Medicaid. I make very little money and am well below the poverty line for a family my size. The only state help I receive is health insurance for my children. I try to do all I can to support myself and my family. This year my 19 year old collage student was told she no longer can be on CHIP. I was told to get her health insurance with the new government programs. the only problem is that Utah considers her a adult at the age of 19 and has no plan for her after this time. The new federal government programs does not consider her a adult till she is 20, and with us being under the poverty level she does not qualify because they expect her to be on Medicaid. I feel this needs to be addressed, their needs to be some way to cover our children who are in this loop hole for the year they are 19.
Thank you for your time