In remembrance of a slain corrections officer, state officials will rename a building at the Utah State Prison in officer Stephen Anderson's honor.
The Utah State Building Board gave unanimous approval on Wednesday to renaming the warden's building the Stephen R. Anderson Memorial Building. A memorial will be constructed inside the administration building and a formal dedication ceremony will take place in August.
"This will allow members of our staff, and the public, to honor his memory and remember his sacrifice every day," Utah Department of Corrections Director Tom Patterson said in a statement.
It was a year ago on Wednesday that Anderson, 60, was killed while transporting inmate Curtis Allgier from an appointment at a University Hospital clinic. Allgier, 28, is charged with aggravated murder, accused of shooting Anderson in a clinic room and then fleeing the clinic.
Prosecutors said the heavily-tattooed Allgier carjacked an SUV, led police on a wild chase across the Salt Lake Valley before it ended at a fast-food restaurant where he tried to shoot an employee. A customer helped apprehend him.
Allgier is still awaiting a preliminary hearing, where a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to make him stand trial. If convicted, Salt Lake County prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
The brazen escape led to sweeping changes within the beleaguered corrections department. Almost immediately, transportation policies were changed. Now, there is a two-to-one ratio for officers to inmates being taken anywhere. Telemedicine and on-site treatments at the prison are being used more frequently, and court appearances are being re-examined to use video conferencing more.
The corrections department is also seeking to change how the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole conducts its hearings to limit inmate transportation.
"We oftentimes have the board traveling to Gunnison or having inmates from Gunnison come up here," said state corrections spokeswoman Angie Welling. "We're open to any innovative ways to do that from both a community safety perspective and cost."
Some of the on-site medical services have saved money. Welling said $55,000 has been saved by offering hemodialysis to inmates at Point of the Mountain.
Some of the changes are not cheap. Understaffed, corrections has mandated more overtime for officers to meet security demands. Welling said they will likely go to the Utah State Legislature again next year to seek more funding."Given the incident with officer Anderson, it's not a risk we're willing to take," she said.
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