'Errors Have Occurred'
Let's talk about scapegoats. This week they would be Geri Miller-Fox and Wendy Horlacher, both of whom "resigned" from the division of Adult Probation and Parole. "Errors have occurred," Gov. Gary Herbert says, referring to the shooting death of Unified Police Officer Doug Barney by parolee Cory Lee Henderson. This, of course, set off a chain reaction of blame, which probably should have ended up at the feet of the writers of the Utah Sentencing Guidelines—a 67-page document, effective Oct. 1, 2015, that includes colorful pyramid charts and mind-blowing matrixes. The guidelines state that Forms 1-5a are guidelines only, and "a distinction exists between the advisory nature of Forms 1-5a and the probation and parole violation/revocation guidelines contained in Forms 6-10." Good luck with that. A KSL Channel 5 report questioned whether the guidelines or the Justice Reinvestment Initiative were to blame. The problem may be simply that rehabilitation requires more than just releasing a prisoner.
Vaccinate, or Stay Home
Hats off to Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, who's trying to stem the tide of ignorance. A Deseret News report noted that Utah's "on the brink of losing herd immunity" because of the growing number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Yes, there was a time when people worried that vaccinations caused autism, but science has since proved that wrong. Read Scientific American, for example. Moss thinks parents are relying on the Internet for information, or may just not want to jump through immunization hoops. She is sponsoring House Bill 221 to require those who opt out to watch an information video and have a plan to quarantine their sick child for up to six weeks if there's an outbreak. In a crowded society, it's not just about you.
Utah Tilts at Cybercrime
Whoopee! Utah is back in the national eye. The Volokh Conspiracy, a Washington Post blog written mostly by law professors, takes on Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, who's sponsoring House Bill 225, "Cybercrime Amendments." Part of that bill takes the First Amendment and knocks it silly. The big deal is this provision "modifies the offense of electronic communication harassment to include distribution of personal identifying information." The question is, what about identifying a legislator or even a real-estate agent, if you believe they are acting unethically? The blog suggests that limiting the law to Social Security numbers or a few other items might be constitutionally OK. But it's way broader, like you wouldn't want to intend to "annoy, offend or abuse" anyone.