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Tuesday AM headlines: Turf buyback incentives, Utah sued over release of violent offenders

Peter Burdon

Utah sued for 'inappropriately' releasing violent offenders

The State of Utah is being sued for allegedly releasing violent offenders “inappropriately” and then failing to monitor them.

The complaint says that the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole was created to determine when and why certain incarcerated individuals are eligible to be released early on probation and parole, and the Utah Adult Probation and Parole is then responsible for supervising them.

Then, in 2015, H.B. 348 changed some aspects of how sentencing and parole work. Part of that was creating the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which was designed to reduce the time nonviolent and low-risk individuals serve in jail. The complaint says this program wasn’t designed for violent offenders, but is being used for them anyways, leading to violent offenders going unmonitored and committing more violent crime.

There are six plaintiffs listed, all of whom dealt with serious injury and or death inflected by a person released on parole or probation in Utah.

Hogle Zoo’s 'Cinco de Rhino' event seeks to bring awareness to threatened rhino species

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is bringing awareness to the five threatened species of rhino with an event on May 5, fittingly named “Cinco de Rhino.” The after-hours family event will feature rhino-themed activities, dancing, live music and Mexican dishes, with event proceeds benefiting local and international wildlife efforts.

There were once nearly 100 species of rhino, but due to issues like poaching, forest loss and human encroachment, there are only five left. Utah’s Hogle Zoo is home to two southern white rhinos, George and Princess, who are some of the oldest among their species and the oldest at any Association of Zoos and Aquariums institution.

Guests can also learn more about rhinos and the threats facing them during the regular zoo hours that day. The Cinco de Rhino after-hours event is separately ticketed and runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Admission is free for children two years and younger. Tickets can be purchased at Utah’s Hogle Zoo website.

Utah launches statewide turf buyback program to help water conservation

In a continued effort to conserve water, Utah leaders announced a new turf buyback incentive on Monday. Utahns living in areas that have adopted new water efficiency standards for new construction can receive up to $3 per square foot of “nonfunctional turf” they get rid of.

Water policymakers note this doesn’t mean backyard grass that kids and pets use, but turf that gets mowed and isn't used. The hope is people will replace the water-guzzling turf with water-efficient landscaping.

The program is through Utah Water Savers, which was originally founded by the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District in 2017. The Utah Legislature allocated a total of eight million dollars during the last legislative session to kickstart the program.

The program warns those applying for the incentive not to remove or kill grass prior to application approval and a site visit, as doing so will disqualify them. More information and applications can be found here.

Duck is a general reporter and weekend announcer at UPR, and is studying broadcast journalism and disability studies at USU. They grew up in northern Colorado before moving to Logan in 2018, so the Rocky Mountain life is all they know. Free time is generally spent with their dog, Monty, listening to podcasts, reading or wishing they could be outside more.