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Davis County Pilot Program Offers Recovery Instead Of Jail Time

FARMINGTON, Utah – Next door to the Davis County Jail, a building that used to house the jail’s work-release program is now ready to help people who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

The Davis County Receiving Center is a pilot program, funded through a federal grant, state funds and with the help of Davis Behavioral Health. Initially, police officers from Layton and Bountiful will be able to bring misdemeanor offenders into the program as an alternative to prosecution.

“We have to be seen as the ones coming in to help, not just the ones holding people accountable for crimes that may be committed,” said Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross.

Brand new to the receiving center, Eddy Helmer said he’s eager to do the work and get on the road to recovery from his drug addiction.

“I’ve been an addict I guess my whole life and I didn’t realize it for about a year,” Helmer said. “(I’ve) never been to jail. Just been using. It was either pills or weed, and then went to meth and here I am. My life is unmanageable and I need help.”

Program Supervisor Nicole Cunha said jail or prosecution can have a negative effect on people suffering from mental health or addiction.

“Essentially when they’re brought into the justice system, they become better criminals and better substance users, so we’re attempting to divert that,” Cunha said. “Oftentimes in crisis, what we know is that the longer the delay between crisis and help, the worse the outcome is.”

The program will run for one year and be evaluated. If things go well, similar centers could pop up in other parts of Utah and the U.S. Helmer said he’s grateful for a second chance.

“People are dying at a young age,” Helmer said. “We all are born to thrive and do something with our life, instead of the other way, and I’m very thankful.”

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