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A big departure from the tough-on-crime approach of the past three decades received overwhelming support from the House on Tuesday on its way to the Senate.

HB348, sponsored by Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, focuses mostly on drug crimes and people behind bars who have addiction or mental-health problems.

It reduces the charges of some offenses, such as drug possession, which would go from a felony to a misdemeanor. The bill creates an assessment to identify the offenders who need treatment while incarcerated and seeks to continue that treatment when the offender is released. And it increases funding for Adult Probation and Parole to ramp up the supervision of offenders, using a new system that would allow people to earn time off their sentences for good behavior.

"We'll have better standards, better oversight and more supervision than we have ever had before," said Hutchings, who developed his legislation based on recommendations created by the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice and the Pew Charitable Trust.

The House engaged in 50 minutes of emotional debate before voting 72-3. That included two members — Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, and Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City — who spoke of their work treating and assisting people with addiction or mental-health issues. And Rep. Rich Cunningham, R-South Jordan, who has talked about having a child with a substance-abuse problem.

"Doing nothing is not an option any more when it comes to our jails, our families, the innocent victims that we see," said Cunningham, who said the bill was a chance "to do something historic."

The Legislature is expected to spend $15 million to implement these reforms. Hutchings said the effect would be far greater if the Legislature passes some form of Medicaid expansion, which would help pay for treatment for offenders when they are released from jail or prison.