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Legislature Approves Prison Relocation

Brian Grimmett
Legislators in the Utah House debate moving the state prison from Draper to Salt Lake City

In a special session, the Utah legislature has approved a proposal to move the state prison from Draper to a new site in west Salt Lake City.

The new prison will be built on a site north of I-80 at about 7400 West. Rep. Brad Wilson was a co-chair of the committee that spent more than a year researching possible locations and provided the legislature with this recommendation. He said a new prison in West Salt Lake will better serve the needs of Utah and its prison population.

“It’s a much better value actually than the current site that we have in Draper," Wilson said. "And last but not least, having a new prison will be the kind of final step in this justice reinvestment initiative that we have put so much time and effort and energy into.”

While the legislature passed the resolution, there was an attempt to pass legislation that would rebuild the prison in Draper. Democratic Representative Sandra Hollins spoke in favor of this substitute. She represents people on Salt Lake City’s west side relatively near where the new prison will be built.

“This is not about restorative justice," she said. "This is about social justice and this is about class. This is about building up other communities on the backs of another community. It’s about our government continuing to neglect an entire section of Salt Lake City.”

Part of the legislation authorizing a prison move includes allowing Salt Lake City to increase their sales tax by half a cent. But Sen. Lyle Hillyard said that’s a bad idea and he’ll try to repeal it during the next session.

“Both candidates for mayor have said very publicly that they did not ask for it, they do not want it," Hillyard said. "So, I think it should be, hopefully, a thing we can repeal because it does jeopardize the state in the question of what we can fund in the future.”

The cost of building and operating the new prison for the next 50 years is estimated to be more than $500 million. As soon as the Governor gives his approval, the state will begin designing the facility. Barring any lawsuits, utility work at the site will begin shortly after that. 

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