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(Courtesy Utah Department of Corrections) The Gale housing unit at Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, pictured in this January 22, 2014, Utah Department of Corrections photo, hosts a substance-abuse treatment program. Offenders here are housed in dormitory style housing pods to facilitate team-buiding and group therapy efforts. Lawmakers funded a proposed expansion project at the Gunnison prison in effort to alleviate capacity issues. Growth projections anticipate all the prison system's existing beds will be filled by the year 2017, which is when a new facility would likely open its doors, if funded during this session.
State prison to move; Gunnison to expand
First Published Mar 13 2014 05:16 pm • Last Updated Mar 14 2014 07:30 pm

When, where and how are still open questions, but Utah lawmakers responded with a resounding "yes" on building a new prison facility.

Lawmakers approved a resolution accepting the findings of the Prison Relocation and Development Authority that the aging Utah State Prison in Draper needs replacing with a state-of-the-art facility that is efficient and better equipped to rehabilitate inmates. Lawmakers also accepted PRADA’s conclusion that there are better uses for the 700-acre property the prison now occupies along the high-tech corridor dubbed "Silicon Slopes."

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They also approved SB268, which creates a new Prison Relocation Commission to take over the job of soliciting project bids and locating one or more sites on which to build new prison facilities; it won’t take up questions about how to redevelop the old site. Lawmakers pared back a $5 million request for funding, giving the commission $3.5 million to spend.

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Brad R. Wilson, R-Kaysville, calls for the commission to find a location that provides good access to court and medical facilities and is convenient for corrections staff, prison volunteers and inmates’ friends and family. There are reportedly several locations along the Wasatch Front that meet that criteria. Continued reliance on use of county jails is also emphasized.

The Legislature also earmarked $36 million to add a new 192-bed medium-security unit at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, a long sought-after expansion that Utah Department of Corrections officials and PRADA members said was critical to address a growing population of male inmates.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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