Mother Jones

VERY PRIVATE PRISONS

Want to know how your local jail operates? Sorry, that may be a trade secret.

FOUR DAYS BEFORE Christmas 2016, Heather Ashton Miller, an inmate in Davis County Jail outside Salt Lake City, slipped while climbing down from her bunk bed. The 28-year-old, who had been arrested a day earlier for alleged drug-related misdemeanors, fell five feet and landed with a thud. When she tried to stand, she couldn’t—the fall had ruptured her spleen. As her lips turned purple, jail staffers gave her ibuprofen. It took nearly three hours for emergency medics to arrive; she died shortly after reaching the hospital.

When lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah asked for the jail’s operational standards, hoping to find out

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