Utah Republican governor candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. says 53 years after it was opened, the Utah State Prison and its nearly 3,500 inmates should be moved away from growing neighborhoods, says the Salt Lake Tribune. Huntsman declined to name prospective sites for a new prison, but said it would “have to be close to the Wasatch Front” for purposes of having a suitable population base for staffing, transportation, and inmate-family visitation.
Local leaders in at least two prospective prison sites are ready to roll out the red carpet are unhappy. “I don’t know that folks around here would go for that,” said Gunnison Mayor Scott Hermansen, who expressed surprise at Huntsman’s proposal. “We don’t mind a little growth [in the prison] but I’m not sure we want to see that.” A regional prison now located in Gunnison houses 1,100 inmates, up from 600 when it opened 10 years ago. Relocating the main prison there would result in inmates outnumbering the other 2,500 residents. Sanpete County Commissioner Greg Dettinger said Huntsman’s announcement was “shocking. He hasn’t talked to anyone in Sanpete County about that.”