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Investigating Northern Utah jail deaths

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About this project

Of the 52 jail deaths so far reported in Northern Utah since 2005, more than half were a result of suicide. (Updated Feb. 7, 2018)
The second largest cause of death fell under an umbrella of illnesses or natural causes.
Those deaths could include: heart disease, cancer, liver disease, respiratory disease, or other, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Weber and Davis counties are among the worst in the state, outstripping even more populous Salt Lake County in death rates, data gathered by the Standard-Examiner shows.

Do you have a story to share about jail deaths in Utah? Contact us.
Newsroom main: (801) 625-4225 •
Or contact our reporter
Mark Shenefelt at


Report a jail death:
State law does not require jails to report an in-custody death to the public. Sometimes jails choose to send out press releases, but that's not typically the case. If you know someone who has died in a Utah jail, contact the Standard-Examiner at with a name of the deceased and the name of the jail where they were in custody.

Requesting an autopsy:
An autopsy report is an official record of a medical examiner's findings during a post-mortem examination. That typically includes information on cause of death and details about the condition of the body as it relates to the factors around death.

In Utah, an autopsy report can only be released to immediate family members and legal representatives. The report is not automatically released to family — it needs to be requested and approved by the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.

An Immediate family member is defined as a "surviving spouse, child, natural or adoptive parent, any full or half sibling, and any child aged 18 or older," according to the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner website. There is no time limit to when a record can be requested.

“I just feel like they didn’t help my son.”

Marion Herrera remembered one year after death

Explore our infographic detailing data we uncovered during our reporting.
Select any of the highlighted boxes below for links to relevant stories.

(This infographic does not include 2 most recent deaths reported.)

Info G2

Jail oversight debated as sheriffs defend Utah system.

Read the story here.

Their lawsuit targets only the Davis County Jail, but Cynthia Farnham-Stella and her attorneys hope it will catalyze improvements to prevent inmate deaths throughout Utah.

“My daughter, I hope, will be the last one,” said Farnham-Stella, mother of Heather Miller, who died after a crushing fall at the Davis jail on Dec. 21, 2016.

Read the story here.

$2M death claim filed against Davis jail over allegedly withheld medications.

Read the story here.

Groups open legal front against Utah's secret jail standards.

Read the story here.

Utah Department of Corrections inspectors found the Davis County Jail to be out of compliance with some state minimum jail standards in the most recent annual review, records show.

Read the story here.


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