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Lost In the Hole

Mentally ill felons locked in own hell



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Once in Uinta 1, Cameron became a target for manipulative inmates looking to amuse themselves, fellow Uinta 1 inmate Paul Payne wrote in a motion to re-open Cameron’s case and have him moved to the medical unit, Olympus, “which houses the mentally ill, those with brain trauma.”

While some inmates, Paul Payne writes, try to keep Cameron occupied with constructive things, exercises and reading, “when that voice of reason is not there, he is led astray.” Paul Payne continued that Cameron is on a section with “several outcasts/sex offenders/victimizers, and they act like they are the guard speaking on the intercom and give Cameron ‘a direct order’ to lock himself in the shower.” When the actual guards came to get him out, a tussle ensued, Paul writes, leading to Cameron being handcuffed and slammed to the ground.

That resulted in Cameron Payne ending up in “the hole,” in Section 4, Curtis Allgier wrote in a letter to Cameron’s parents, “where you can’t order anything [from commissary] but 5 envelopes a week, not even soap! The bright-ass lights are on 24/7, they come look in your cell every 15 min. and there are people yelling, banging, fighting SWAT, rubbing shit everywhere, etc. every day, all day! It’s the worst of the worst for sure!”

Alison Payne wrote to warden Alfred Bigelow, saying her son’s treatment was “cruel and inhumane.” Bigelow wrote back that Cameron was “housed appropriately,” allowing the prison “to maintain his safety, staff safety and other inmates’ safety.”

She says she sees a ray of hope in that the unit’s captain and caseworker have been responsive to her concerns, but she worries about the psychological impact of long-term solitary confinement on someone with a traumatic brain injury. “They’ve probably made him so he can never come home again.”


Ryan Allison, who’s 20, was in state-care facilities since he was “a young age,” according to 4th District Court documents, resulting in unspecified “mental problems,” nursing staff told a deputy after Allison was arrested. Allison writes that he’s been diagnosed with “bipolar, depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and reactive-attachment disorder.”


When Allison turned 18, his Department of Child & Family Services caseworker put him in a foster home for teenagers with drug and violence issues. Two months after his 18th birthday, according to court documents, on April 11, 2010, Allison inhaled “Axe body spray in an attempt to get high,” then refused to go with the foster family to a barbecue. He pointed a kitchen knife at a relative of the foster father and was charged with three misdemeanors.

Allison initially appeared before 4th District court Judge Fred Howard in Provo. After a month in Utah County Jail, where, he writes, “I was constantly harming myself, attempting suicide and struggling with hallucinations,” he threatened to kill both a deputy and Judge Howard, resulting in him being charged with a third-degree felony for threatening a judge.

He threatened the judge, Allison writes, because Howard had talked “about possibly sending me to prison after I was told they would release me from jail on probation if someone could find an apartment for me.”


Judge Howard recused himself, to be replaced by Judge Claudia Laycock, who found Allison competent to stand trial. Allison pleaded guilty to threat or use of a dangerous weapon in a fight on Sept. 1, 2010, but a month later, changed his plea to Guilty Mentally Ill, although he says he doesn’t know why. “My public defender and judge kind of made that choice for me so they could get me into the [Utah] State Hospital to get me some help.”

Laycock gave him a suspended five years in prison for threatening a judge and sent him to the Utah State Hospital for 18 months for treatment. Post-treatment, she would then revisit the sentencing.

At the Provo-based mental hospital, Allison attended groups to help him with substance abuse, depression and “impulsively acting out,” but he also attacked staff and patients and broke chairs, closets and shelves and fire sprinklers. He claims he tried to break the neck of a man he was sick of “talking trash on me.”

In March 2011, the hospital returned Allison to the county jail. Laycock found that the hospital couldn’t care for him, so she sent him to prison for five years.

In a letter to the Board of Pardons, she wrote, “This is a young man who needs more help than you and I can provide for him. Unfortunately, the prison is the last resort for a defendant with his violent and disturbed background.”

While not specifically referring to Allison, the prison notes in its statement to City Weekly that, “Some of the offenders we currently house have spent time in the State Hospital but have been deemed too violent to remain there and are subsequently returned to our institution.”

Despite the judge’s recommendation to the board that Allison be put in the prison’s mental-health unit, Allison writes that he was placed in general population. “I was very angry and depressed.” He attempted suicide his third day there. After just two weeks, he threatened to stab an officer and was sent to Uinta 1. There, he “started to go off,” he writes, fighting guards, attacking officers through the cuff board on his cell door.

He’s been in Uinta 1 for a year and five months. Paul Payne argues that Allison uses “stories of violence in his past to try to minimize threats of confrontation” from other inmates. He writes that Allison “is a big-hearted guy,” albeit one who is very thin because “he forgets to eat.” In his letter, Allison writes that he speaks with “mental-health staff regularly and sometimes they give me self-help books.”


Jeremy Haas’ life, according to his letters to City Weekly, has been a quest for love. His father frightened him with his violence, according to Haas, and his attempts to get high led only to more trouble. He joined a gang while at a Cottonwood Heights treatment center. “I wanted to fit in. I wanted to feel, I need, I wanted friends cuse I did not really have many friends so I thought if I put my loyalty to a gang then I’ll ways have friends!”


He writes that in Weber County Jail, he ended up in maximum security because, to prove his loyalty, he fought so much with the cops to where, “it was just hurting me.” He continued the same pattern, he writes, in prison, “and they put me in a big-ass hole now I can’t get out but try to be better and do better for I can go home ... I miss home!! I miss my family. I hate this box I live in.”

When he got to prison, “I want to kill myself my first day cuse I new I fucked up big time. I could not find out what to do as they tuck me off all my meds and I could not get them back.” He attempted suicide numerous times, once trying to hang himself with a sock.

Paul Payne describes Haas “as a really caring person and people in here will take advantage of that if they can.” For five months, Haas and Paul Payne were almost neighbors, being within shouting distance in cells 1 and 9 in Section 3. Payne learned that Haas’ mispronunciation of words was something the young man viewed as making him unique. Payne tried to help him sound out words, but “he is super hard headed and willful. We’d argue like two hillbilly brothers.”