The man dies while incarcerated in the Washington County Jail

A 53-year-old man died Friday while incarcerated at the Washington County Jail.

Officials identified the man as David Staples and said he died of cardiac arrest despite life-saving efforts at Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Members of Washington County’s Critical Incident Task Force are investigating the man’s death, but preliminary evidence indicates Staples likely died by suicide, according to a press release.

Staples faced two felonies of possession of prohibited items by an inmate and one charge of driving with a suspended driver’s license, court documents said. He was originally taken into custody on Feb. 28 when an officer found Staples behind the wheel with five active warrants.

More information about Staples’ death was not immediately available.

Government data shows that suicide is the leading cause of death in prison – accounting for 51% of all deaths as of at least 2013.

Utah lawmakers decided this month to address inmate suicides by passing HB259, a measure that would fund the installation of suicide barriers — much like netting — in prisons across the state with multi-story condominiums.

The measure’s sponsors, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss and Sen. Todd Weiler, both acknowledged in hearings during this year’s legislative session that suicide barriers will not eradicate prison deaths, but they hope this program will help.

On Friday, the bill awaited Gov. Spencer Cox’s signature.

Editor’s Note • If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline offers free 24-hour support by dialing 988. The man dies while incarcerated in the Washington County Jail

Justin Scacco

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