Media Contact

Aaron Welcher, Communications Director, ACLU of Utah

July 8, 2024

Salt Lake City, UT — The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Foundation (ACLU of Utah) has unveiled a new report highlighting the critical need for improved language access in Utah’s jails and prisons. This report, the second in a series focused on language access, addresses the persistent barriers faced by Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals in custody, emphasizing the erosion of their civil rights and liberties due to inadequate policies.

The report reveals substantial challenges for LEP individuals, including difficulties in understanding their legal rights, communicating with staff, and accessing rehabilitative programs. These barriers hinder their ability to navigate the legal system and undermine their fundamental rights.

Key Recommendations:

  1. Identify Language Needs: Implement an effective LEP plan by identifying language needs within the facility.
  2. Service Access Guidance: Provide guidance on accessing services and procedures during orientation.
  3. PREA Compliance: Develop a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) compliant language access plan.
  4. Translation of Documents: Translate important documents and signage into primary languages commonly spoken within the facility.
  5. Complaint Mechanisms: Implement LEP-specific complaint and grievance mechanisms and foster stakeholder feedback regarding the LEP program and services.
  6. LEP Coordinator: Designate an LEP Coordinator.
  7. Assessment Tools: Create tools to determine the appropriate type of interpreter for various situations.
  8. Rules of Conduct: Provide accessible information on rules of conduct and disciplinary proceedings.
  9. General Grievance Access: Ensure the general grievance procedure is fully accessible to LEP individuals.
  10. Equal Access to Programming: Ensure LEP individuals have equal access to programming and opportunities that affect early release, education, and work.
  11. Qualified Interpreters for Health Care: Ensure interpreters trained in medical terminology are available for HIPAA-compliant interpretation services in health care settings.
  12. Staff Training: Provide training for staff and correctional officers.

“Prisons and jails house some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. The failure to provide adequate language services in our jails and prisons effectively denies LEP individuals their rights and jeopardizes their safety and well-being,” said Andrea Daniela Jimenez Flores, Immigrants’ Rights Policy Analyst at the ACLU of Utah and author of the report. “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that, under our federal Constitution, prisons have a paramount duty to provide necessary care to incarcerated persons; this duty does not cease because of language barriers. Similarly, the Utah State Constitution imposes independent obligations to provide care to individuals in state custody. Our recommendations aim to ensure that everyone in our mass carceral system can fully understand and exercise their rights, regardless of their language.”

A copy of this report can be found at: