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Two Daggett County corrections officers are on leave over allegations of misconduct, and there is no timeline for returning scores of prison inmates to the jail, a spokeswoman for the county said Tuesday.
Cells at the jail remained empty on Tuesday. The Utah Department of Corrections removed the 80 inmates from the jail on Friday. The department had a contract with the jail to provide housing for state inmates.
Daggett County sits out on the state lines with Wyoming and Colorado and has a population of 1,127, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Susie Potter, a spokeswoman for the Daggett County Sheriff's Office, said Tuesday that the jail had no offenders sentenced there from the county courts. Remaining jail staff were staying busy conducting maintenance and upkeep, she said.
The Department of Corrections has not said when inmates could return.
"They gave us a promise to try to take care of it as quickly as possible," Potter said.
The situation is costing the county money. The state pays a daily rate to house each inmate. Utah paid Daggett County about $1.4 million to house inmates in 2016, according to records on the state's transparency website.
That accounted for almost 30 percent of the county's revenue.
According to earlier press releases from the county and the Department of Corrections, Daggett County Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen in the first week of January discovered a problem involving jail staff. He asked the Department of Corrections to investigate.
The department removed three inmates on Feb. 3. Then, late Thursday, Potter said, Department of Corrections staff called Jorgensen and informed him the remaining inmates would be removed the next day.
"What [the Department of Correction's] final reasoning was on that, we really don't know," Potter said.
No one has disclosed what concerned Jorgensen in January or why the two officers are on leave.
Maria Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said on Tuesday there are investigations underway to determine whether staff broke policies or criminal laws. The FBI and Utah's police regulators are among those investigating.
Potter on Tuesday would only say the allegations have nothing to do with two common problems in jails drugs and sex.
"It was violations of procedures of some sort," Potter said. "We don't believe the inmates were ever in some kind of danger."
The Department of Corrections removed inmates from the Daggett County jail in September 2007 after two state inmates convicted of homicide escaped. They were able to exit the building through an unlocked back door, get onto the jail's roof, and jump down outside the fence.
Wyoming state troopers arrested the inmates six days later.
The jail was found to not have enough razor wire, staff and cameras. The Department of Corrections returned inmates about six weeks after the escape, after Daggett County addressed the deficiencies.
The county also hired Jorgensen, the former warden at the state prison in Gunnison, to run the jail. Jorgensen became sheriff in 2011.
Potter said this year's review by the Department of Corrections included a look at policies, procedures and the physical security at the jail. No problems were found in those areas, she said.