Panel: Less shame, more empathy needed for drug offenders

Panel: Less shame, more empathy needed for drug offenders

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah panel suggests state lawmakers rethink the way prosecutors handle drug-related cases and take a more compassionate approach toward offenders.

One suggestion that state lawmaker and member of the Criminal Code Evaluation Task Force Rep. Paul Ray made on Monday was directing prosecutors to withhold immediate criminal charges and even drop the case entirely if offenders complete a treatment program.

KSL-TV reports the meeting comes after a Utah official said shame is the biggest obstacle keeping residents from seeking treatment for addiction.

Will Carlson, a Salt Lake County deputy district attorney, says Utah has been getting better at taking a therapeutic approach in its prosecution.

He says he does think looking at drug-related cases as a public health issue will have a positive impact.