The Utah Department of Corrections shares responses to common questions as staff and incarcerated individuals settle in at the new Utah State Correctional Facility. The first few items are ongoing concerns, while latter items are concerns that have been addressed and resolved.
With moving to the new facility, we have introduced a new pattern for meals for many incarcerated individuals. Previously, most meals were provided in the section, whereas now many eat together in a dining hall setting. We remain positive that this is a move in the right direction in providing opportunities for individuals to prepare to successfully reenter their communities, since this will more closely mirror everyday life.
We had inmates and staff training in the USCF culinary for months before it opened to learn how the new equipment operates, but we still have some kinks to work out. With the staffing shortage and time it takes to learn new equipment, we have been presented with some short term concerns, including individuals receiving meals at off hours or in too short a period of time. Our team is working to address the logistical issues, and with each day the process continues to improve. Thank you for your patience.
There have been questions about the new food trays. We assure you that you are getting the same amount of food at USCF as you were at USP. The food trays are designed differently, but they hold the same amount of food. Because the new food trays are deeper, it appears you are receiving less food. Again, we assure you that you are not.
There are two to three phones in each section that are readily available for use. We are actively exploring options for what it would require to add additional phones. In the coming months, we also look forward to introducing significant increases in opportunities for communications through our tablet program and through kiosks installed in the sections where individuals can order commissary, request medical services, submit concerns through our grievance process and more.
The Utah Department of Corrections is working with the SLC Mosquito Abatement District and has already begun to implement safe and effective abatement measures. In addition to facility-wide abatement approaches, we are exploring what can be done to help on a more individualized basis, including options for repellant for incarcerated individuals; however, safety and security takes precedence and many of the repellants are extremely flammable.
See latest update here: https://corrections.utah.gov/2022/10/24/whats-going-on-with-mosquitoes/
Unrelated to the move, the UDC transitioned to a new medical records system and is working to address technical difficulties. See more here.
Due to supply-chain issues and a change in vendors, commissary has been dealing with shortages in certain items. However, officials report that basic hygiene items such as soap and toothpaste have always been available, though certain brands may have been out-of-stock. The ordering process is now conducted through phones, tablets and electronic ordering forms. This allows for a live list of items that are actually available so individuals won’t have to wait to hear whether their order was able to be fulfilled. We understand that this process is different from the paper process at the former prison, and we appreciate the patience of those incarcerated in adapting. In the coming weeks, you can anticipate that items that have been unavailable – including electronics, shoes, utensils and clothing – will be back in stock.
✅ Addressed: There simply aren't enough employees to safely supervise everyone
While we are at critical staffing levels, our operations team has worked diligently to ensure that the current staffing pattern can manage the safety and security of our operations.
We are actively recruiting, and anyone that is interested can visit this link https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/utah?department%5B0%5D=410%20Department%20of%20Corrections&sort=PositionTitle%7CAscending or contact our recruiter directly at 385-208-5255.
✅ Addressed: The laundry situation is not working well
Laundry services are provided once a week. Incarcerated individuals can send both state and personal clothing as well as sheets and blankets to be laundered. Laundry Services provide offenders with two laundry bags to separate colors and whites to ensure personal clothing is not ruined. In addition to laundry services, offenders are provided a monthly Direct Exchange for sheets and blankets.
See latest update here: https://corrections.utah.gov/2022/10/24/why-changes-to-the-laundry/
✅ Addressed: Windows and skylights are leaking water
There have been small, unforeseen construction issues with moving into a brand new facility. Our facilities team has been responsive and nimble at addressing any concerns.
✅ Addressed: Not enough outdoor time provided compared to Draper
Out-of-cell times and recreational yard times are impacted by multiple factors, including time of year. For example, as daylight hours shorten in winter months, so must access to the recreational yards based on visibility provided by daylight hours. Each individual’s experience may differ based on privilege matrix levels, punitive isolation, COVID protocols, or temporary restriction orders. However, in most cases the yard time will be comparable or more. Most inmates housed at USCF have had a significant increase in access to small yards or courtyards.
✅ Addressed: Gang violence, gang members are not being separated
We primarily house based on an individual's behavior with consideration for programming, medical, bed space, safety needs, etc. Should an individual have a safety concern, they can notify the officer on their housing unit at any time.
The following newsletter was distributed to all incarcerated individuals toward the end of August at USCF and CUCF:
English version: https://corrections.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Newsletter-to-Inmates__08.25.22.pdf
Spanish version: https://corrections.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Inmate-Newsletter-Spanish-08.29.pdf