SALT LAKE CITY – Following the Prison Relocation Commission’s unanimous vote Tuesday to move the Utah State Prison to a spot near the Salt Lake City International Airport, Gov. Gary R. Herbert issued a call for a special session of the Legislature to address the commission’s recommendations for the prison.
“I have called the Legislature into a special session on their August interim day to vote on the recommended site of the Prison Relocation Commission and five other issues,” Gov. Herbert said in a statement Friday.
The pending relocation of the state prison has been a subject of conflict between the state and the residents near potential locations since the commission narrowed its possible location down the five candidate sites. In addition to Salt Lake City, other locations that were considered included Grantsville, Fairfield and Eagle Mountain.
The state prison is currently situated in Draper, and is being eyed for future economic development and possible conversion into a tech center, Fox 13 reported.
Among the reasons why the recommended location is favored by the commission is due to its close vicinity to related-resources and cheap utility rates.
Following the Prison Relocation Commission’s vote, the Utah Department of Corrections issued the following statement:
The Utah Department of Corrections is pleased that, after several years of discussion, this process is continuing to move forward.
While this is a significant step today, the Prison Relocation Commission’s recommendation now goes to the full Legislature and Gov. Gary R. Herbert for a decision. Our role is to support whatever is ultimately decided.
Utah is in desperate need of a new facility that will allow the Department to better manage and rehabilitate offenders in our custody. The type of correctional facility envisioned, coupled with the Justice Reinvestment reforms now in the works, will position Utah as a model for a state-of-the-art criminal justice system.
Not everyone is happy with the commission’s decision, however.
State Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, expressed her frustration with the commission’s announcement:
I am truly disappointed with the news that the Prison Relocation Commission has selected Salt Lake City as the site for the building of the new state prison. The residents and leaders of Salt Lake City have been loud and clear when opposing this possible west side relocation site.
I feel a big mistake is being made to build a state prison in this limited available space area when we should be developing this area for economic development purposes…
…I believe this matter is not finished, and I am hopeful members of the state legislature will consider the importance of a more appropriate relocation site for the state prison than the west side of Salt Lake City. I will be sure to remind them that this vote is a vote on the site and location, not on prison reform or our state’s criminal justice reform.
Others who object to the commission’s recommendation include Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and City Councilman James Rogers.
“We are troubled to learn that the Prison Relocation Commission has chosen Salt Lake City as their recommended location for a new Utah State Prison,” the mayor and councilman said in a joint statement.
“…Salt Lake City will continue to fight today’s decision, and we look forward to working together with Salt Lake City’s legislators to pursue all options to prevent the prison being built,” they said. “This State prison would be a new, additional burden, removing taxable property and potentially adding costs.”
The Legislature will meet next Wednesday to discuss the prison relocation and other matters brought forth by the governor.
- Gov. Gary Herbert’s letter calling for the special legislative session. Covers other items to be addressed in addition to the prison relocation.
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- Hunger strike ends at Utah State Prison
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