The Utah Department of Corrections has pulled 20 of its inmates from the Daggett County Jail after two convicted killers managed to escape from the rural Utah facility.
Corrections chief Tom Patterson confirmed that the inmates were pulled from the jail on Wednesday and placed in other facilities in response to concerns about security lapses at the Daggett jail.
The inmates were housed in a separate, stand-alone unit within the perimeter fence nicknamed "the greenhouse." Patterson said they could find no way to secure it, and Daggett County officials were agreeable to the change.
"We didn't feel like our security concerns could be addressed adequately," Patterson told the Deseret Morning News. "Our recommendations were to close that part of the jail to any inmates."
The move comes after Patterson met with Daggett County Sheriff Rick Ellsworth on Tuesday to go over concerns raised by a review of jailhouse security in the aftermath of the escape of convicted murderers Juan Diaz-Arevalo and Danny Gallegos. After seeing the results of the probe, Patterson categorized the problems at the jail as "systemic" and said the county has pledged to improve security at the jail.
Corrections officials have said the problems included staff (the lone deputy on duty the night of the escape was sick), procedures and technology (an electronically controlled door was not working, allowing the inmates to escape). About 57 state prison inmates remain now at the Daggett County Jail, where they are being housed because of a bed-space shortage at the Utah State Prison.
The jail remains on lockdown.
Diaz-Arevalo, 27, and Gallegos, 49, escaped from the jail on Sept. 23 by going through a broken door into a recreation area and eventually slipping out of the jail over a razor-wire fence. The pair then hid out in the mountains along the Utah-Wyoming border, living off of spring water and rations of food they had stuffed in their pockets.
On Saturday, the pair broke into a 79-year-old man's camper trailer about 14 miles from the jail, tied him up and stole his SUV. Retired Salt Lake police officer Bill Johnson managed to free himself and get help.
After being spotted in Green River, Wyo., the two escapees led police on a chase that ended in Rock Springs when the men jumped out of the Ford Explorer armed with guns. Gallegos was shot and remains in critical condition at University Hospital in Salt Lake City. Diaz-Arevalo was captured and waived extradition to Utah. He is now back at the Utah State Prison in Draper, authorities said.
Both men already have been charged in Manila's 8th District Court with second-degree felony escape charges. Daggett County Attorney Bryan Sidwell told the Deseret Morning News on Wednesday he likely would file more charges against Diaz-Arevalo and Gallegos but was consulting with federal prosecutors.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah said they were reviewing the case.