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Becker: Too Many Halfway Houses in Salt Lake City

Whittney Evans
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker railed Tuesday morning against what he thought was a proposal to expand a halfway house on the city’s west side. But the company that owns the facility says it only wants to renew an existing contract.

Becker says Salt Lake City is already home to a disproportionate number of transitional facilities and he worries they make neighborhoods more vulnerable to crime. Becker told reporters he’d sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons asking them to decline the proposal.

“You know, I know that the operators of those facilities do everything they can to try to control those activities,” Becker says, “but there obviously can be impacts and there is a huge stigma attached to having the kind of concentration of facilities that we’re seeing in this neighborhood.”

Becker was responding to notification he received from the Federal Prisons Bureau in March that a private company called GEO Reentry, Inc. or “GEO” had applied to provide halfway house services for federal paroles. The letter said the application was for a proposed facility that would be able to accommodate up to 115 offenders. But a GEO spokesperson told KUER late Tuesday its seeking a contract extension at its existing location in Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood, not an expansion. 

All the same, Art Raymond, a spokesperson for Becker says the mayor is opposed to the continued operation of the facility in Salt Lake City.

There are three existing community halfway houses for state offenders located on Salt Lake City’s west side. The Glendale halfway house is the only facility in Utah that accommodates federal paroles. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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