The plan to move the Utah State Prison heads to the state legislature

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The plan to move the prison in Draper is now on its way to the state legislature.


Wednesday night the Prison Relocation and Development Authority, or PRADA, voted to pass on its recommendations to build a new prison to the state legislature.


According to PRADA’s master plan, the legislature has to take steps this legislative session in order to begin to build the infrastructure needed to handle Utah’s growing inmate population.


"This can move very quickly, in fact it has to,” explained Rep. Eric Hutchings.


PRADA’s report estimates that even if the Utah state prison in Draper remains at its current location they would need 3,000 new beds by 2033 at an additional cost of $783 million. The four options, in the recommendation just sent to the legislature, show the costs of building a new prison around $1 billion.


"A billion dollars that is a huge figure, however if we don't move anything it's still almost $800 million do to nothing, and we have exactly what we have we don't have a better system, we have no economic development, we don't have better treatment for the mentally ill,” said Rep. Hutchings. “We don't have any of those things."


The estimates say the value of 700 acres in Draper is about $130 million, but the city's mayor says it's worth much more than that.


"I can tell you from our perspective as a city, it's conservative,” said Mayor Troy Walker.


Moving the prison and zoning the property to its fullest potential could mean an annual economic benefit of $1.8 billion.


Walker said, "We see it as a new downtown, essentially a big development with a lot of jobs."


It’s a plan the entire board is behind, except for Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams who voted against it saying instead on planning for more inmates, more needs to be done to bring the numbers down.


"The numbers show this is a win for the taxpayer, and that's encouraging, this just needs to be a well-rounded proposal,” explained McAdams. “What we're doing is not only about economic development, it's about prison reform and we need to have a companion conversation about how we reduce the growth in our prison population."


Representatives from the League of Women Voters agree with Mayor McAdams. They say moving the prison in Draper needs to be less about the money, and more about improving the programs that keep inmates from returning back to prison.


Now that PRADA has decided Utah needs a new prison, they know need to decide where it will go, what it will look like and what programs will be implemented to make it one of the best in the country. Rep. Hutchings says those discussions are coming.

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