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January 14, 2014
Consultant to take comment on proposed prison relocation

The consultant hired by the state to evaluate the possible relocation of the Utah State Prison will hold a meeting in Salt Lake City Thursday to take public comment on the proposed project.

Hosted by the Utah State Prison Relocation and Development Authority, comment will be received regarding the possible relocation of the state prison in Draper and the future development of the current prison site.

The prison relocation discussion has included the idea of increasing the number of state inmates housed in county jails. Tooele County has also been mentioned as a possible location for a new state prison.

The prison relocation and development authority was created by the 2013 Utah Legislature following a report by a previous prison relocation study committee that reported in Dec. 2012 that moving the state prison in Draper was financially feasible.

The 2012 prison relocation committee felt that the sale of the current prison land, combined with operational savings at a modern facility, would cover most of the $600 million estimated price tag. However, the real incentive for moving the prison lies in the use of the land that would be vacated by the old prison.

Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, who chaired the original prison relocation committee, told a legislative committee that over the course of 25 years the economic development of the former prison site could put $20 billion into the Utah economy and create 40,000 jobs.

Gov. Gary Herbert advanced the prospect of relocating the state prison.

“It’s time to get serious about finding a more suitable location for the state prison,” said Herbert in his 2013 state of the state address. “We must make this 700-acre parcel available for the continued growth of our IT industry.”

The 2012 prison relocation committee visited a potential prison site in Rush Valley as part of its study process, indicating that Tooele County was a prospect for hosting a new prison.

Leaders of Tooele County and its municipalities proposed Timpie as a potential site for a new state prison during meetings with local legislators during the 2013 legislative session.

The current prison relocation and development authority has contracted with the Tallahassee, FL.-based criminal justice and public safety consulting firm of MGT of America. The firm will prepare a report on the current and future needs of the Utah Correctional System.

Brad Sassatelli, of MGT of America, will hold an informal meeting on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 210 of the Senate office building in the Capitol Hill Complex in Salt Lake City.

The purpose of the meeting is to obtain information from all interested persons and entities regarding the master plan being developed for new state prison facilities, or the development of the current Draper site, according to a news release announcing the meeting.

All interested people are welcome to attend. People may address issues or concerns regarding prison relocation or future development of the current prison site.

The meeting is not intended to be a question and answer session, but an opportunity to hear from people with concerns, proposals, or other matters, according to the news release.

The meeting will be recorded and all information presented will be considered public information.

Questions regarding the meeting can be sent to David Walsh, of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, at dwalsh@@utah.gov.

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