Over the objection of Salt Lake City leaders, the Utah Legislature voted by a lopsided margin to relocate the state’s prison to the capital city, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. It is up to Gov. Gary Herbert to sign or reject the resolution passed in a special session yesterday. If he signs the measure, as expected, the state will buy 500 acres west of the Salt Lake City International Airport for $30 million and start the arduous process of figuring out how to build on the soft soil and if any wetlands are in the way. Those reviews will take months and the build out will take at least three years. The goal is to construct a modern correctional facility better suited for vocational training and drug and mental health treatment for $550 million.
Rollin Cook, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections, believes a new prison will help reduce the state’s recidivism rate. State Rep. Sandra Hollins doesn’t want to see a new correctional facility in her district. Noting that the west side of Salt Lake City already includes several halfway houses, she said it is a bad symbol. “Salt Lake City’s west-side community is once again being told, ‘It is your responsibility to rehabilitate our citizens,’ ” Hollins said. An overwhelming majority of legislators was not interested in keeping the prison near Point of the Mountain. They see that land as a prime spot for a high-tech business park.