More transparency could be coming to Utah jails and prisons with a bill that would require them to report all in-custody deaths to the state.
Sen. Todd Weiler’s bill, S.B. 205, would make jails issue an annual report of who is dying behind bars and how. The bill also asks jail and prison officials to disclose their policies for treating inmates with opioid addictions and their procedures for notifying next of kin when an inmate has died.
“I have been contacted, Mr. Chair, by the members of families saying, in one instance, I booked my brother who was an addict into the jail. He died that same night. I didn’t even find out, I wasn’t even notified until after he’d been cremated and buried,” Weiler says.
Weiler says it’s a lot of information gathering. Information that was not readily available to Utah policy makers or the general public. Utah does, however currently report in-custody deaths to the federal government.
The Utah Sheriff’s Association recently posted on its website a redacted version of its operating standards. This came after media and civil liberties groups sought to find out why Utah had higher than average in-custody deaths.
Weiler’s bill passed a committee unanimously Thursday and now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.