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US Marshal criticizes Utah's justice system on his way out the door

Posted at 11:21 AM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 13:21:29-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The search is on for a new United States Marshal in Utah after Matthew Harris resigned after more than three years on the job.

Harris called it a dream assignment to be appointed as US Marshal for Utah. But, he said, our system is basically broken.

Harris said, the biggest threat to public safety is inadequate punishment of repeat, violent criminal offenders.

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Harris said, during his entire tenure at the helm, his wife and family have remained in Colorado because one of their children is battling leukemia.

After more than three years of shuttling back-and-forth between work in Utah and home in Denver, he said it was time to make a change.

“It’s a dichotomy between having a job that you absolutely love and a family that needs you," said Harris. “Every person who has a job wants to be able to come to work and make a difference somehow. In this job and this role you have a real big impact and ability to make a difference and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do but reality is it’s time to be home, time to be home with my family and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Officials with the Utah Department of Public Safety issued a reply to Harris‘ assertion that our criminal justice system needs an overhaul.

DPS Commissioner Jess Anderson wrote:

There is nothing more frustrating to law enforcement officers and the communities they serve than to witness a person arrested for repeat offenses, especially when that person has a history of violence against others.
Far too many criminals are not held accountable for their crimes. That is a simple statement, but that does not mean these issues are easy to fix in any state.
Accountability for repeat violent offenders will always be a challenge as society demands justice and mercy--it is this balance that seems to elude the criminal justice system from time to time. The justice system, though complicated, is undergoing a thorough review as various partners assess and weigh the importance of meeting society’s demands for justice, but also valuing the opportunity for one to be rehabilitated.
It’s going to take continued hard work, persistence and deep analysis among law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, corrections, legislative bodies, federal partners, like the U.S. Marshals Service, and justice reform advocates, to identify the next steps for each of the responsible parties that will lead to improvements in the criminal justice system.
We thank U.S. Marshal Matthew Harris for his contributions to the State of Utah and his recommendations for the future. We wish him well in his return to private life.

Meanwhile, Harris is headed home to Colorado with his family and about to begin a new government job which will allow him to work almost entirely from home.

He said his son is doing better and they are trying to get back to a normal life.