On December 1st, 2016, 21-year-old Madison Jensen died of heroin withdrawal in the Duchesne County Jail. She’d been violently ill, but no one in the jail did anything about it. Her death is part of a pattern — because Utah has seen more inmate deaths per capita in the last few years than any other state in the nation. And the way Utah jails are run is mostly kept secret.
There have been some changes since KUER’s Whittney Evans reported this story. The Utah legislature passed a bill during the last session that requires jails to report in-custody deaths annually. The bill also says jails must disclose their policies for treating inmates withdrawing from drugs. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections is planning to write new rules for running jails — and make them public. For now, though, Utah jails continue to operate under the secret policies created by Gary Deland.