Thirty-six inmates who sued Salt Lake County nearly two years ago claiming the county jail was too crowded will be given between $200 and $700 each plus attorneys' fees in a settlement announced Tuesday.
County Attorney David Yocom and Michele Parish-Pixler, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, announced the settlement, saying it will cost taxpayers less than $12,000, not including the attorneys' fees. The amount paid each inmate depends on the length of incarceration. The United States District Court still must approve the settlement.The agreement also sets new limits on the number of men and women who can be housed in the jail. Only 545 inmates will be allowed, of whom 455 can be male and 90 female. The limit can be raised to 575 but only for less than 72 hours. Judges will be encouraged to sentence people to home confinement or community service instead of jail.
To avoid overcrowding, the jail will release inmates early based on a computerized grading system. The least dangerous prisoners will be the first to be released.
The suit was filed after the jail's population reached 750 in 1989. A new jail is under construction and expected to be finished by January 1992. When its three stages are completed, the new jail will house an additional 550 inmates.