GUNNISON—Devin Blood, warden at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, was back at work Tuesday after about a week on administrative leave.
The only information from the Utah Department of Corrections (DOC), capping a week of rumors about what triggered the leave, was a statement from DOC director Brian Nielson.
The statement didn’t mention Blood by name, although it was clear based on the Messenger’s conversations with the pubic information officer for the department that the statement referred to Blood.
“The Department of Corrections has an in-depth process concerning administrative reviews, investigations and discipline for our staff. We hold ourselves accountable,” Nielson’s statement said.
“Depending on the circumstances, administrative leave can be part of the process. Recently there was information relayed regarding a staff member in leadership at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. A thorough review has been conducted, and the staff member will be back to work on Tuesday, April 12.”
The Messenger first heard about issues in CUCF administration when a law enforcement officer who happened to be in court last Wednesday, April 6 pulled aside Messenger reporter Steve Clark and told him the warden had been “walked off the property” a day or two before.
Subsequently, multiple prison employees told the newspaper there had been rumors about Blood having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee who worked in his office.
Later, that story was modified. Employees told the newspaper Blood had put his arm around the employee to comfort her after she became distraught when she did not receive a promotion she had worked toward for four years.
Two employees independently told the Messenger the underlying issue was nepotism. The employees said Brian Nielson’s wife and sister, both of whom work at CUCF, were going over Blood’s head and taking reports and complaints about his actions directly to Nielson.
The Messenger sent a copy of this story to the public information officer for DOC asking if she cared to confirm or deny, or if she had no comment. The newspaper did not hear back before deadline.
Blood was named warden in March, 2021 after the previous warden Shane Nelson moved to UDC. Blood started his career at the Utah State Prison in Draper. He came to CUCF 1997, where he moved from corrections officer, to sergeant to lieutenant to captain.
In 2014, was promoted to deputy director in charge of programming, which included overseeing the robust volunteer program at the prison.
In 2010, Blood was named employee of the year at CUCF. At the time, the selection committee said he set “a high example in work ethic, leadership and strong dedication to those he serves.”