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Prison Assaults Increase Nationwide, But Not in Utah

Prison Assaults Increase Nationwide, But Not in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- While a federal study found that sexual assaults in state and federal prisons rose 16 percent nationally last year, a Utah Corrections spokesman said such incidents have decreased in Utah's prison system.

Utah's prison system reported 14 allegations of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence. Of those, three were deemed substantiated. There were also five allegations of staff-related misconduct, of which none was substantiated.

Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said incidents of misconduct have dropped since the Legislature made it a felony for guards to have sexual relations with inmates.

"We do training on the new law involving sexual harassment and sexual misconduct with inmates," Ford said.

The prison also cuts down on groups gathering. Ford said inmates are fed in their cells and inmates shower a section at a time.

Ford said the largest problem in Utah's prison system is guards running off with inmates once they are paroled.

Last year, one male officer and three female officers quit their jobs and ran off with paroled inmates with whom they had become romantically involved, Ford said.

Ford said guards do report one another if they see inappropriate conduct, but once an inmate is paroled, it's out of the hands of prison officials.

The figures for Utah did not include the incidents of Washington County sheriff's deputies having sex with jail inmates, which has been under investigation since early this year.

At least five jail employees resigned or were fired and two them pleaded guilty to having sex with inmates.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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