Share story

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Two Utah jails dealt with 34 serious but non-fatal incidents last year, including inmate fights, seizures, falls from bunks, drug overdoses and mental health outbursts.

There were 20 non-fatal but serious or life-threatening incidents at Weber County Jail in 2017 that required emergency paramedic calls and trips to the hospital, according to jail records.

Meanwhile, the Davis County Jail reported 14 non-fatal but significant medical emergencies last year, according to documents obtained by the Standard-Examiner following a public records request,

However, deep analysis of county jail incidents is not easy to come by because of limitations with corrections record-keeping systems. So far, only case-by-case information has been disclosed.

Weber County’s system lacks robust searching capabilities, and the sheriff’s office gathered records of serious incidents only after the Standard-Examiner won an appeal for the information. The sheriff’s office said it researched ambulance billings to identify relevant reports, the Standard-Examiner reported .

Salt Lake County rejected a similar request for records unless the newspaper paid $1,000 or more — fees allowed by state law — for the clerical work it said would be necessary to comb records. Then, records to be disclosed must be scrubbed of personal information.

“We have to call up individual reports; we don’t have a good statistical data mining system,” said Melanie Mitchell, a deputy district attorney.

“We do now have a list of deaths and are keeping track of those,” she said.

The Utah Legislature in March passed a bill requiring county jails and state prisons to submit annual reports of the deaths. That came after two years of controversy over a surge of jail deaths in the state.


Information from: Standard-Examiner,