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Utah’s mental health court addresses repeat offender problems

Mar 27, 2012

from Jason Nowa's article on Voices of Utah:

Sim Gill believes that jail is for people who have murdered, raped, or who harm children and not a place for the mentally ill. He is currently in the process of trying to accomplish this.

Gill, who is the Salt Lake County District Attorney, recently spoke to small group of University of Utah students on about his job and the passions that drive him. Gill spoke about various processes,  from how he deals with the death penalty, drug abuse and to the mentally ill committing crimes. The United States jails more people than any other country in the world, he said. Gill estimated around 2.2 million people in the United States are currently incarcerated.

Gill is serious about his duty to the community in keeping the people safe.

“I have a commitment to justice. I don’t get to bend corners,” Gill said.

Gill supervises two divisions within his office: Civil and Criminal. The Civil, division Gill explained, deals with new ordinances, tax issuesand litigation. In the criminal division, Gill and his staff attorneys prosecute murders, rapes, and other crimes against people and property. Gill is serving a 4-year term, with the next election in 2014.

“There isn’t a more fulfilling job than a public prosecutor,” he said.

Gill believes passionately in the concept of “restorative justice.” It follows that when a crime happens in the community it occurs to three sections of people, the victims, the offenders and the community, he said. All are affected in some way or another.

And Gill added there should be a distinction among those who go to jail. “We lock up people that you fear, not that you simply dislike,” he said.

When asked what type of people Gill is putting in jail, he responded, “We are locking up lower-class minority people, poor people, drug abusers and the mentally ill in our jails.”

Read the whole article.

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