The nurse on staff at the Duchesne County jail when a 21-year-old inmate died following severe dehydration and weight loss has been charged with negligent homicide.
State prosecutors charged Jana Clyde, 50, of Hanna, with one misdemeanor count after they said the licensed practical nurse failed to intervene and possibly save the life of Madison Jensen.
Jensen died Dec. 1, 2016, after four days in custody. Her parents called sheriff’s deputies to their Roosevelt home after she was suicidal and acting erratically. She told the arresting deputy she’d done heroin four days earlier and was arrested for internal possession of heroin and marijuana.
Court documents show the jail staff interacted with Jensen every day she was incarcerated and should have known her health was at risk.
During her booking, Jensen told jail staff she expected to withdraw from drugs. She also noted she had high blood pressure and other ailments.
On Nov. 28, a deputy took Jensen to Clyde’s office for evaluation and for her blood pressure medication to be approved. County jails often adhere to a formulary of prescription medication that can be taken in custody.
“Despite being very ill with both vomiting and diarrhea, [Clyde] took no action to address this condition,” the probable cause document states. “The victim was placed back into the general population of the jail.”
Jensen continued vomiting in her cell, according to the document and an inmate who said she was cellmates with Jensen while she was still alive.
On Nov. 29, the state investigator wrote, “a deputy noted the victim did not appear well, and the victim’s condition was deteriorating.”
The vomiting and diarrhea continued. A deputy told Clyde, but “she did not act to treat or follow up with the victim’s deteriorating condition and medical needs, even though [Jensen] was then moved to a monitored cell with video surveillance away from the general inmate population.”
On Nov. 30, a deputy brought Jensen her medication and noted the woman couldn’t get off her bed. The deputy told Clyde, who didn’t visit Jensen’s cell, according to the probable cause statement.
Clyde “made no assessment, did not see the victim, nor made any attempt to check on the welfare of the victim.”
Duchesne County contracts with a Draper physician and former prison doctor, Kennon C. Tubbs to oversee the jail’s medical facilities. Tubbs sends an assistant to Duchesne – and several other counties in Utah and Wyoming – to treat inmates who have filed requests for medical attention. The assistant visits once per week, and Tubbs is available by phone.
Tubbs said Clyde, a county employee, didn’t contact him during Jensen’s time in jail, when records show Jensen likely lost at least 17 pounds and requested help from the jail’s medical personnel. Maria Hardinger, the former cellmate, said she attempted to alert jailers that Jensen needed medical attention through an intercom that allows inmates to communicate with staff.
When Hardinger continued requesting help for Jensen, she was told to stop pushing the call button because it was interfering with staff, according to a complaint Jensen’s family filed in federal court this month.
“The jailer told Hardinger she could leave the cell to retrieve cleaning supplies to clean up the mess,” the complaint states.
Jensen attempted to get help a final time, according to a document she mistakenly dated Dec. 31 but that her family says was likely dated Dec. 1, the day she died.
Jensen wrote on the medical request form she’d been sick since entering the jail.
“I know my body and it is not [detoxing],” she wrote. “I am completely detoxed. My roomate [sic] caught the stomach bug … from me.”
When Tubbs’ assistant, Logan Clark, arrived at the jail on Dec. 1, he was greeted by Clyde, who told him he had a patient to see, records obtained by The Tribune show.
When Clark and Clyde reached Jensen’s cell, they found Jensen had died.
Jared Jensen, Madison Jensen’s father who is suing the county in federal court over his daughter’s death, said the charge was the first sign that the death was being taken seriously.
“I was waiting for this day,” Jensen said. “The bottom line for me is that we’ve known all along. Duchesne County would not recognize at all the incompetence of their jail. They sat idly by and made our family sit here and wonder what’s wrong with the system.”
Duchesne County Sheriff Dave Boren has declined to comment on Jensen’s case, noting the investigation into the matter was ongoing. He again declined to comment Monday. The office said in a news release Clyde was placed on paid leave Monday after being charged with the class A misdemeanor. Court records don’t identify whether Clyde has an attorney.
The county said in a news release Jensen “died at the Duchesne County Jail as a result of complications related to chronic heroin use.”
The Office of the Medical Examiner ruled Jensen had died of a probable cardiac arrhythmia caused by dehydration in the setting of opiate withdrawal. Records obtained by The Tribune from the case make it unclear how much weight Jensen lost during her time in jail. They show she lost between 17 and 42 pounds. Toxicology didn’t contribute to her death, examiners found. Her death was classified as natural.
Boren confirmed through a statement the county last month hired a registered nurse to work at the jail.
Per protocol, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office investigated Jensen’s death and turned the case over to Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote. Foote told The Tribune in April he was nearly finished reviewing the case, but asked Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office to take the case in May.
Reyes declined through a spokesman to comment Monday.