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ACLU of Utah files lawsuit over abuse of inmates at Daggett County Jail

Posted at 4:52 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 18:52:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The ACLU of Utah filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of two inmates they say were shocked with Tasers and attacked by police dogs for the entertainment of jail staff in Daggett County.

The lawsuit relates to abuse at the Daggett County Jail, which resulted in criminal charges in 2017. The sheriff and two deputies pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case in September of 2017.

Another former deputy was sentenced to 120 days in jail for the incident.

The ACLU of Utah is suing on behalf of Dustin Porter and Steven Drollette, who allege they were shocked with a Taser for the guards’ entertainment and attacked by police dogs. They also claim they were physically assaulted, threatened with a gun, and denied access to mental health and medical care.

“Paying your debt to society does not mean your jailers can shock you with a Taser and attack you with dogs only to later call it ‘fun and games,’” said John Mejia, Legal Director for the ACLU of Utah and attorney for the Plaintiffs. “We trust correctional officers and their superiors to ensure the welfare and safety of inmates who are in their custody. This litigation aims to hold employees and their superiors, at the County and State levels, accountable for patterns of serious abuse at the Daggett County Jail.”

The ACLU of Utah also provided statements from both plaintiffs.

“The State and the County need to answer for what they did to me and the others,” said plaintiff Dustin Porter. “I hope that this lawsuit will bring real change to the way that state prisoners are treated in county jails.”

“No one should be subjected to what happened to me and the other prisoners,” said plaintiff Steven Drollette. “The State and County need to step up and take responsibility for what they did, and for keeping people safe in the future.”

According to the press release from the ACLU of Utah, the lawsuit was filed Wednesday and seeks damages as well as injunctive relief for the alleged abuse at the jail.

The ACLU of Utah states the population of Daggett County is about 1,000 people, but say the jail was able to fill their 80 beds by participating in the State’s Inmate Placement Program, which paid the county to house inmates in state custody with sentences longer than a year. All inmates at the Daggett County Jail were moved to the Utah State Prison in 2017 after the allegations of abuse came to light.

Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.