Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Utah Senate committee debates prison relocation

Utah lawmakers are considering a plan to relocate the state prison in southwest Salt Lake County.

Sen. Scott Jenkins introduced legislation that creates an authority to manage the relocation of the Utah State Prison and evaluate proposals from companies seeking to build a new prison or develop the old site.

The Utah State Prison occupies about 700 acres in Draper where tech companies such as eBay and Microsoft have opened offices.

Gov. Gary Herbert has called on lawmakers to fund the relocation so the corridor can develop as a technology hub. State officials have been weighing relocation for several years.

The Utah State Prison was built in 1951 and houses about 4,500 inmates. Before that, Utah's state prison was at what is now Sugar House Park.

The state also operates a prison in Gunnison, the Central Utah Correctional Facility.

The goal is to get the legislation passed quickly so the authority can get up and running by April 15, as required by the bill, Sen. Scott Jenkins said.

The authority would then seek proposals from companies and come back to the Legislature and governor with a viable option.

It's unlikely any proposal would be ready to come before the Legislature by the time next year's session concludes, but the governor could convene lawmakers in a special session to approve the plan.

Some of the possible sites that have been considered for the new prison are in northwest Utah _ specifically Box Elder County, Juab County and Tooele County. Cache Valley Daily