SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — The Utah Department of Corrections Director announced his retirement after a lawsuit was filed against the department.
Brian Nielson, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections, announced that after more than two years as head of the department, he is retiring on May 15. This comes just one day after a lawsuit was filed against the department and the State of Utah.
The complaint claimed that the department and the state of Utah “inappropriately” released violent offenders and then failed to monitor them, which resulted in avoidable consequences.
“The government, the corrections department, its agencies, and its divisions allowed violent people to be paroled that should never have been paroled,” attorney Robert Sykes said.
There are six plaintiffs listed on the complaint who were harmed or killed by an individual released on parole or probation.
Their early paroles were allegedly available due to HB 348, and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Under this initiative, individuals serving in jails could earn credit for time served through various programs, or be released early on parole.
According to the lawsuit, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative was not designed to be used for violent offenders. Instead, the lawsuit stated that it has given violent offenders the opportunity to run free and do whatever they’d like.
“There were several murders as a result of this,” Sykes explained. “Many injuries, a fire, brutal beatings took place.”
Nielson did not state the reason for his retirement and thanked the State for his time as the director.
“I am humbled by the opportunity I have had to serve alongside the dedicated individuals that comprise the Utah Department of Corrections,” Nielson said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such a talented and devoted team, and I am proud of all that we have accomplished together.”
Mayor Spencer Cox also thanked Nielson for his time served as director.
“We’re grateful for the contributions [Nielson] has made to the state of Utah and appreciate his hard work and dedication,” Cox said. “[Nielson] showed leadership and perseverance through it all. We thank him for his service and wish him the very best in his retirement.”
For more on the lawsuit, you can read about it here.