3 Big Ways to Make the Most of Your Prison Time in Utah

If you have been sentenced to a prison term, the best thing to do is make the most of whatever time you serve—even if you plan to file an appeal. Focusing on what you can control and working to improve your circumstance will help you stay hopeful and resilient.

While we acknowledge the flaws in the prison system and continue to fight for improvements, there are still positive opportunities for those serving time in Utah’s prisons. According to the Utah Department of Corrections website, 95% of those who leave the prison system lead successful, crime-free lives after they are released.

When a person begins his or her sentence, the Utah prison system evaluates their needs in three main areas.

  1. Education
  2. Treatment
  3. Life Skills

After taking a few assessments, prison staff will develop a personal Case Action Plan (CAP) to help you set goals based on your specific needs. This is important to help you improve while incarcerated, but the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole also uses your Case Action Plan in their reviews. Through a mixture of the various programs and resources below, you can find ways to make the most of your prison time in Utah.

No matter what your education level, both prisons in Utah offer educational opportunities. Education is an excellent way to make the most of your time while in prison.

1. Education

High School

If you haven’t finished high school, you can complete your schooling through the Canyons School District (at the Utah State Prison) or the South Sanpete School District (at the Central Utah Correctional Facility).

Vocational Training

There are also opportunities for vocational training from institutions including Davis Technical College, Uintah Basin Technical College, Snow College, and Dixie State University.

Certificate programs at the Utah State Prison:

Certificate programs at the Central Utah Correctional Facility:

Distance Learning

If you want to continue learning outside of high school or vocational training, you can enroll in a distance-learning program. These programs are offered by nonprofit organizations instead of the state, and course materials are received through the mail.

2. Treatment

The Utah Department of Corrections offers structured programs for substance abuse treatment and sex offender treatment. These programs are based on strategies that help reduce the likelihood that a participant commits a crime again. There are also less structured courses on domestic violence awareness, anger management, etc. The more you commit to treatment, the more likely you are to succeed when you are released.

Con-Quest: Substance abuse treatment for male inmates at the Utah State Prison

The Con-Quest program uses a facility that can house 400 people. The program is community-based, with other participants holding each other accountable. The program focuses on teaching responsible living habits that inmates can use when they are released. Those in the program are called “residents” and have the opportunity to practice and live the things they learn on a daily basis through various responsibilities (residents are expected to spend 40 hours per week in a job, class, or program). This program lasts a minimum of 12 months.

HOPE: Substance abuse treatment program for male inmates at the Central Utah Correctional Facility

The HOPE program has its own unit that can house up to 288 people. HOPE is a community-based program focused on helping people live clean and sober lives. The program usually takes 12 to 13 months. Additionally, those who graduate have the opportunity to serve as role models alongside staff and security for other people in the program.

Excell: Substance abuse treatment program for female inmates

Excell is a community-based program, which means that women are treated in a community environment with other women in the program. In addition to helping women overcome substance abuse, the program helps them resolve physical and emotional abuse. The program lasts 11 months.

SOTP: Sex Offense Treatment Program at the Utah State Prison

The treatment programming for sex offenders is therapy-based and uses proven methods for helping people improve and prevent relapse. A person’s progress is measured by their actual change in behavior, both in therapy and in their day-to-day activities. The program lasts between 15 and 24 months.

3. Life Skills

In addition to education and treatment, you can explore courses taught by volunteers and community organizations. This is a great chance to expand your skills and prepare for when you rejoin the community.

Tools for Success

While your Case Action Plan may require you to take certain life skills courses, you may also join other courses you are interested in if there is space. The courses available include the following:


Depending on your privilege level, you could work a basic job or apply for a job with the Utah Correctional Industries (UCI). UCI jobs usually pay more and offer more kinds of work, including work opportunities that are outside of the prison. Working helps you stay productive during your sentence, reduces boredom and hopelessness, and gives you the opportunity to develop new skills.

For more information about programs and services at Utah’s prisons, you can explore the Utah Department of Corrections website. If you have questions related to your case, the lawyers and Brown, Bradshaw and Moffat are experienced and ready to help you.

Call us at (801) 532-5297 today.

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