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Letter: Matter of public health

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There has been discussion in Utah as to how to reform our criminal justice system to better accommodate those who find themselves abusing drugs and other illegal substances. It is a belief held by many, and rightly so, that drug abuse is a matter of public health, not that of the criminal justice system. Addressing this as a public health issue requires a greater dependence on rehabilitation and substance abuse therapy.

HB0348 is a step in the right direction to correct decades of counterproductive efforts aimed at combatting drug use. This bill would make drug possession a Class A misdemeanor, with one year in jail. Coupled with the aforementioned rehabilitation, which the bill would support, this sets us on the path of lowering recidivism rates and improving the lives of those who need help and resources.

The state, of course, plays an important role in crafting public policy, but municipalities and county governments are essential in putting these policies into practice. A notable example of this work is Salt Lake County’s Department of Human Services. By passing HB0348, Utah will be on course to improve its communities, thereby helping many individuals around the state.

Patrick Holman