SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials discussed whether or not to relocate the Utah State Prison Wednesday, and officials said the aging installation is worn out.
The first state prison, which was built in Sugar House, cost taxpayers about $32,000, but replacing Utah’s aging prison bloc in Draper will cost around $600 million.
Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County Mayor, is part of the 11-member prison relocation board, and he said they are trying to find the most cost-effective solution they can.
“We're trying to do what's in the best interest of the taxpayer, to keep taxpayer dollars used conservatively,” he said.
Rollin Cook, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections, said improved facilities are needed.
“Oftentimes, people don't realize how difficult it is to work in a building that's been run 24-hours a day, seven days a week, since the 1950s,” he said.
Some are concerned that moving the prison to a remote part of the state could have a negative impact on prison employees, visitors and volunteers, but Cook said moving the facility could offer better technology and more opportunities for rehabilitation.
“So there’s really a wide variety of things we’ll have to consider, depending on where it's moved and those kinds of things,” Cook said.
One consideration is that moving the prison could potentially free up a large amount of real estate. State Representative Brad Wilson, R-District 15, is also a member of the relocation committee, and he said their focus is on managing the prison’s population for decades to come.
“There’s been an assumption that this is all about creating 700 acres in Draper, and that is not the case. It has never been the case,” Wilson said.