Author of Jail Standards Refuses to Make Them Public

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The standards followed by jailers across Utah and in 18 other states help counties provide a legally sound level of inmate care, says their author, Gary DeLand. Most of the standards must remain secret for what he called “selfish” reasons, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. DeLand said he’d rather end his arrangement that gives sheriffs and their employees access to his jail-operating guidelines than to let them end up in the hands of inmates’ attorneys who could use them against his clients in court. “Coca-Cola doesn’t tell Pepsi-Cola what goes in the damn drink,” said DeLand, who ran the Utah Department of Corrections from 1985 to 1992. “Giving [the standards] away to my competitors is a very unnatural practice.”

DeLand and partner Tate McCotter train corrections workers at seminars. DeLand sells his standards to other states and counties across the nation, offers to be an expert witness in corrections lawsuits and has appeared in hundreds of cases in his four-decade career. “From a selfish point of view, [publicly releasing the standards] makes them available to my competitors,” he said, “which I don’t want.” Utah has been under scrutiny for having the nation’s highest of jail-inmate deaths, according to the federal agency that tracks that data. A string of inmate deaths has led to calls for more transparency of the guidelines jails follow and results of periodic inspections. “What is the point of having standards if we don’t know if they’re being met?” asked Marina Lowe of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU and others have pushed for independent inspections, public disclosure of results from the current inspections and access to the standards.

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