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Day 35: Why I Voted For SB 72 (Prison Relocation Amendments)

March 3, 2013

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SB 72 creates a board that would study and then oversee the possible relocation of the state prison in Draper. If the decision to relocate the prison were made, the boards would then study possibilities and oversee new development of the land.

The major reasons that relocation of the prison needs to be considered are: modernization, rehabilitation, and economic development.

Research shows that prisoners involved in educational and training programs are much less likely to be repeat offenders. Because of its size, the current prison has a limited ability to utilize the latest recidivism reduction programs. Redesigning the prison will allow us to facilitate new programs and reduce the recidivism rate, resulting in fewer prisoners incarcerated by the state and enabling prisoners a greater opportunity to participate in positive, life changing experiences.

Several economic factors make it a good time to consider relocating the prison. The current prison continues to show signs of aging in its design and functionality. Many of the buildings would be cheaper to rebuild than to repair. Interest rates are low, construction costs are low, and the price of land at possible new prison sites has dropped dramatically over the last several years. A new facility would need only 300-400 acres compared to the nearly 700 acres currently used. Projections say a new prison would reduce the operating budget from $79 million to $59 million annually.

Finally, the current prison campus sits on prime land for commercial development. Development of this land would result in additional jobs as well as create “voluntary” tax revenue for the state by way of increased commerce.

Cost/benefit is always the number one consideration for any public project. It will be the job of the committee created by this bill to determine if the benefits of budget reduction, fewer detainees through better rehabilitation, and increased tax revenue from newly developed property relocation can offset the cost of relocation. The efficient operation of a police force and a prison is a key duty of government. These rebuilding costs will not remain low forever. Now is the time to consider this possibility.

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