Four plans in play to move Utah State Prison

Published: Friday, Jan. 24 2014 7:55 p.m. MST

Lone Peak Correctional Facility in Draper on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. A new master plan report has been issued with options on whether to move the prison or renovate existing facilities.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Four proposals are in play to move the 3,980 inmate capacity prison at Draper from its current site to a new location by as early as 2018, a committee tasked with analyzing the feasibility of such a move announced Friday.

"Today was really the payoff," Lane Summerhays, chairman of the Prison Relocation and Development Authority said, following a meeting of the group. "I'm comfortable with where we are."

Summerhays said the group will meet Feb. 5 with just one agenda item — to discuss the four options that include complete replacement or phased in plans, and a fifth option to simply keep the prison at its current site at Point of the Mountain, which also carries considerable cost.

A recommendation will then be sent to the state Legislature for consideration and bids would go out for construction. Brad Sassatelli, the hired consultant of Texas-based MGT of America, presented the options to the authority:

Option 1: Sassatelli called the first option "eating the elephant in one bite." It would mean demolishing and replacing the Draper prison by 2018. The plan calls for a short-term immediate expansion and a short-term increase in jail capacity during the next two years to deal with immediate inmate increases. Estimated construction costs are $942 million.

Option 2: The Point of the Mountain site would be replaced in 2018, but the capacity of jails would remain at 23 percent of the prison capacity. Total construction costs are estimated at $856.7 million over 20 years.

Option 3: This is a phased approach to replacing the Draper site, which would be phased out over 7 years, beginning in 2018 and ending in 2024. Beds would be taken offline more slowly at the Draper prison, with the county jails capacity growing during that time to about 2,500 beds. Total construction costs would be $908.1 million.

Option 4: This is a three-year phased approach to replace the draper prison by 2020. Sassetelli said the third and fourth phased options would allow for adjustments in the number of jail beds needed if conditions change due to sentencing reform or alternative corrections. Maintenance costs for the Point of the Mountain site during the phasing out period was not included in the estimates. Construction costs are projected at $851.6 million.

State Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, proposed a fifth option not to move anything and keep Draper as the designated prison site for the next 50 years.

"I want to make sure people understand that not moving the prison doesn't mean we're not spending money," Hutchings said. "There is a massive dollar figure behind not relocating the prison. There's a difference, but it's still massive."

Sassatelli said even if Draper remains, it will need more than 3,000 new beds in the system by 2033 at a cost of more than $700 million, which includes maintenance, repairs and upgrade costs.

With the inmate projection growth at about 2 percent per year, Sassatelli expects there will be more than 9,900 inmates in the system by 2033, which means more than 10,500 beds will be needed in the system to handle standard increase peaks.

"Expansion of Gunnison and county jails doesn't combat all the growth in the inmate population you're going to have in the next 20 years," he said. "In 2021 you're going to need to have a new prison built someplace else, whether you keep Draper where it's at or not."

Sassatelli said he also found more than 400 state prisoners meet the requirements for county jails. Revising medical threshold acuity could mean 1,000 more inmates would be eligible for county jails as well.

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

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