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Upcoming Executions Dominate Prison Media Tour

Upcoming Executions Dominate Prison Media Tour

Posted - May 5, 2003 at 6:16 p.m.



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Sam Penrod Reporting ...The Utah State Prison invited the media inside today, so it could give the public a better understanding, of the corrections system. But, today's tour was overshadowed, by plans to execute two inmates next month.

Much of the attention today was focused on the possibility of two executions by firing squad next month. But the warden says he is mostly dealing with budget cuts and more criminals who are being sent to prison.

56- hundred inmates are currently in the custody of the state prison system.

21- hundred are housed in county jails or at a prison facility in Gunnison.

The other 35- hundred inmates are here at the Utah State Prison.

From the general prison population, to maximum security and some units specifically for known gang members, prison officials deal with a wide range of offenders.

Inmates have different privileges, depending on their behavior. Most have access to Television and Radio, books and phone calls.

Others who are violent towards other inmates or guards are only out of their cells for four hours a week.

Utah currently has eleven inmates who are on "death row." They are housed in individual cells in this maximum-security pod.

Barring last minute appeals, two inmates, Roberto Arguelles and Troy Kell will be executed by firing squad at the end of June.

Lt. Jeff Myers/State Prison: "WE HAVE TWO INMATES WHO WERE ISSUED DEATH WARRANTS LAST WEEK, BOTH OF THEM HAVE ELECTED TO DIE BY FIRING SQUAD, WE'VE SET THE CHAIR BACK UP, BASICALLY WE'RE READY TO GO."

A precise protocol of procedures is in place, for everyone involved in carrying out an execution.

And like all state agencies, prison officials say they are also dealing with budget cuts over the last two years.

And since a majority of all inmates sent to prison, will someday be released, the prison warden says he is focused on helping inmates to avoid being sent back to prison.

Clint Friel/Prison Warden: WE DO A LOT OF HELP FOR THE INMATES, SO WHEN THEY LEAVE THE PRISON, HOPEFULLY THEY DO NOT RETURN."

Prison officials are already preparing to deal with national and international media attention, if the executions by firing squad go forward as planned next month.

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