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State Prison Inmate Talks About Being In Isolation During Pandemic

DRAPER, Utah – An inmate at the Utah State Prison is sounding the alarm about COVID-19 behind bars.

“I don’t want to be an alarmist or an extremist, but this is not health care,” said inmate Timothy Stevens.

KSL received a call from the 60-year-old, who wanted to share his experience in isolation. Stevens told KSL he’s been isolated for 26 days and recently lost his brother, who was also an inmate, to COVID-19.

“Over 50 men in here. The most medical care we’ve received in here is they took a guy’s temperature because he was coughing up blood,” he said.

Stevens, who is a disabled inmate, is up for parole. After losing his little brother to COVID-19, he said he wants out more than ever and is upset he wasn’t told about his brother’s death.

“They haven’t even notified me yet. My children called last Wednesday and asked the prison to notify me,” said Stevens.

After speaking to Steven’s mother, she confirmed her son, Chey Brown, died Nov. 14 at the University of Utah Hospital after refusing dialysis care. He is one of seven inmates who have died due to the virus.

“I want to offer my condolences to those that have lost loved ones to COVID-19, whether incarcerated in the community,” said Jim Hudspeth, Utah Department of Corrections deputy director.

The DOC has 984 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There are 800 active cases between the Utah State Prison in Draper, Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison and state inmates housed at a county jail. Currently, seven facilities have outbreaks.

“Movement of our incarcerated individuals take a lot of effort however we’re committed to doing that safely and securely,” said Hudspeth.

In addition to providing masks to inmates, DOC officials continue to work with the Utah Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and local health departments for testing inmates and staff. They are also working on early releases for those who would have been released within six months or those who are dealing with medical issues.

Stevens said it’s not enough.

“I believe the prison should be held responsible for what they are doing to us,” he said.

The DOC also has 129 confirmed staff cases of COVID-19, 92 of which have recovered.

They are also providing mental health resources to inmates who seek it and said they welcome feedback from the community.

They have been providing information and updates on their Facebook page and website.

KSL-TV’s Emerson Oligschlaeger contributed to this report.

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