Salt Lake City (ABC4) – A New Utah State Prison Officially opened Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Governor Spencer Cox says the prison is still worth the money with a billion-dollar price tag, making it a better facility for inmates, workers and people in Utah.
The prison is located on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, west of the airport. It covers 200 acres, replacing the current prison in Draper. This marks the end of a six-year project in preparation.
“The whole purpose of investing a billion dollars here is to help make sure that the facility is not dead end for the 95% of people who leave,” said Utah House Speaker Rep. Brad Wilson.
State leaders say it will focus on creating an environment that improves the lives of inmates, not just good buildings that include windows and natural light, but with rehabilitation programs to keep inmates from going back to jail.
“We teach inmates, give them opportunities to improve, give them the tools they need to overcome addiction, overcome trauma and live their lives better and make better choices,” Cox says.
The new correctional facility has 3,600 beds, with the ability to expand if needed.
“We are the fastest growing state in the country, so it makes sense that we have to grow prisons as the population grows, but then again, by changing the way we approach incarceration, we have fewer inmates,” Cox says.
Cox said the facility will open the door to economic development where the current Draper prison is located.
“It’s unlocked economic development on the west side of Salt Lake City. It provides jobs for people in historically depressed areas and we’ve seen significant improvements there,” Cox says.
Leaders say this is not the only prison in Utah, the only prison in the nation.
“We need to remind people that Republicans and Democrats can work together on big things, we can solve big problems, we can do great things, and we can make the world a better place for the next generation,” Cox says.
Prisoners at Draper Prison will begin transferring to the Salt Lake Correctional Facility in the coming weeks.