In a Special Session on Wednesday, August 19th the both houses of the Utah State Legislature voted to approve HCR101 Concurrent Resolution Approving Site for New State Correctional Facilities to move the Utah State Prison in Draper to a new site West of the Salt Lake International Airport (located approximately at 7200 West and I-80). The Prison Relocation Committee voted unanimously to build the new prison in Salt Lake City on August 11th. Governor Herbert signed the resolution on Thursday, August 20th authorizing the prison to relocate. In response, Salt Lake City Mayor Becker stated his office was reviewing it’s options to keep the prison out of Salt Lake City, with the possibility of litigation. Rep. Sandra Hollins (D-Salt Lake City) whose district includes the new prison site said she supports the Mayor’s Office and City Council if they pursue legal action, and that she may pursue her own legal action in opposition of the move to Salt Lake City. The group Keep It In Draper is also considering a ballot initiative in the next election to try and block the move, and Rep. Hollins said she’d consider a bill to block the prison relocation when the legislature meets in January. A similar bill pressed forward with Rep. Fred Cox (R-West Valley) and failed to get the needed votes. House Speaker Greg Hughes (R-Draper) said he didn’t believe that such bills had much of a chance in the next session.
Opponents of the move have concerns ranging from how a prison in their neighborhood would affect property values, to crime rates, high cost, tax hikes, environmental concerns, or that the Salt Lake West side already has a number halfway houses, rehab centers, and parole violator center. As Rep. Hollins stated, “It’s about building up other communities on the backs of another community!”
Supporters of the move see it as an opportunity to reinvest in badly needed criminal justice reforms, and improving conditions for inmates, prison employees, and volunteers. Supporters also believe the move will create jobs and improve economic development in Salt Lake City as well as Draper, which developers have plans to turn the old site into a tech hub.
UPAN has not taken a position in support of or against the prison relocation, but does however advocate for better conditions and the need for criminal justice reform in Utah. We see building a new prison as the only way any major change will have a solid chance at success. Stay tuned for any new updates!