Utah DOC fires company that counsels sex offender inmates

The Utah Department of Corrections is working to hire new counselors to rehabilitate incarcerated sex offenders after it fired the company previously tasked with providing therapists. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — It's a taxpayer funded program that was at the center of a scathing audit a year ago.

The Utah Department of Corrections has been making changes, but now runs the risk of not having therapists for thousands of inmates.

Does that therapy change everybody? No. But does it change some of them?

"Yes,” said Kent Morgan, a former prosecutor and now a criminal defense attorney.

Morgan has prosecuted and represented clients who have gone through the program. He says "the balance is finding out who can be changed and who cannot.”

The man in charge of doing that is Victor Kersey, who runs the DOC Institutional programs, which include the sex offender rehab program.

“For many many years, we were a one-size-fits-all program” Kersey said.

Shortly after he took over, an audit found 18 areas that needed improvement. Inefficiencies caused parole delays. Kersey said that backlog has been reduced 20 percent, due in large part to the eight new programs he created to help inmates based on need.

But now he has a new problem: therapists and counselors will soon be gone.

“The vendor just simply was not able to comply, so we served them with termination," Kersey said. "Their last day is the end of this month.”

The program has gotten more expensive each of the last two years from $680,000 in 2016 to $780,000 last year. The majority, Kersey says, pays for things like the new counselors he needs to quickly find and hire.

“95 percent of all of our sex offenders will be released into the community, and the community at large is interested in their own personal safety," he said.

22 years ago, Utah state prisons housed 250 sex offenders. Today, there are 2,500.

You can check the Utah State Sex Offender Registry online here.

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