Salt Lake City, Utah – Since early August, the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) has faced crisis-level problems with the provision of medical care in the new $ 1 billion prison as well as the prison in Central Utah, leaving a substantial number of people without adequate medical and mental health care. It has been reported that these conditions stemmed from issues related to the UDC’s switch to a new medical record system, which UDC verified to media outlets.
Prisons house some of the most medically vulnerable people in our communities. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that, under our federal Constitution, prisons have a paramount duty to provide necessary medical, mental health, and dental care to incarcerated persons. The same holds true of the Utah State Constitution, which the Utah Supreme Court has recognized as independently imposing obligations to provide care to people in state custody.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, Foundation Inc. (ACLU of Utah) and National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation call on Governor Cox and UDC Director Nielson to take urgent and immediate action, ensuring all incarcerated people in our state prisons receive necessary medical and mental health care services to end this state-created crisis.