In a recent City Weekly article, Colby Frazier takes a look at Early Case Resolution Court. He suggests that the Salt Lake County Court program speeds defendants through the process, but may overlook treatment.
But for all its efficiencies, ECR has fostered an odd critique from some defense attorneys: The deals prosecutors offer in this high-speed environment can be so good that they sometimes overlook what’s really ailing a defendant, notably drug addiction or mental illness.”
Further in the article, it states, “A report by the University of Utah’s Criminal Justice Center, which has been commissioned to issue an annual study on ECR, shows that during the program’s first year, new cases handled in ECR court were resolved in an average of 28 days compared to the 94 it took to resolve non-ECR cases.
The rapidity of case resolution has also had an impact on the number of days a person spends in jail. Of defendants with cases pending who were booked into jail on outstanding warrants, those in the ECR program spent an average of six days in jail compared to 22 days for non-ECR defendants, according to the report, which officials say is one of only two of its kind in the country.
This, says Teresa Welch, an ECR supervisor and felony-trial attorney for the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association, is one of the many benefits of quickly resolving cases.
‘Just because cases are fast-tracked does not mean that my clients’ lives are fast-tracked,’ Welch says. ‘What cannot happen is the speed of the program to overrun clients that have mental-health issues and drug-addiction issues that need to be addressed.’
It is in recidivism rates that, says 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas, the true value of ECR will be measured. And he expects that when the university reports are concluded, they will shed light in this area. Until then, he says, one can only speculate on ECR’s overall effectiveness.
And until that time, Welch says, it’s important to keep an eye on what really matters: helping people beat their problems and stay out of the criminal justice system. ‘It’s not speed that matters, it’s efficiencies,’ she says. ‘Instead of speed, we need efficient justice.'”
The complete article can be read at: http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-501-18515-haste-supplanting-help-in-early-case-resolution.html