Quantcast

My view: Prison relocation has state's best interest at heart

Published: Sunday, Feb. 3 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

The Utah State Prison may be relocated in Salt Lake County  Wednesday, June 13, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) The Utah State Prison may be relocated in Salt Lake County Wednesday, June 13, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Last year, under the direction of the governor and the Legislature, the Prison Relocation and Development Authority Committee (PRADA) was formed to evaluate the practical and economic feasibility of relocating the state prison.

This committee met many times over the course of the past year. Each meeting was open to the public. Stakeholders and members of the press were always invited. On several occasions I personally invited members of the press to join us. This letter is written partly in response to insinuations by John Florez ("Moving prison violates public trust," Jan. 26) that the committee has not acted with the best interest of the state in mind.

The PRADA committee was tasked to collect information and then consider the following:

Advantages and disadvantages of moving the prison from its current location; advantages and disadvantages of a potential new prison site; programing at the prison (one pressing limitation with the current facilities is that recidivism programs need more physical space to develop and expand); a cost-benefit analysis of potential new development on the Draper property if the prison is moved; other potential sites where the prison could be relocated and the advantages or disadvantages of those potential sites.

The committee was also to determine if it would be better for the state to allow the prison to remain in the center of what is now a thriving economic stronghold or to move it to another part of the state where it could help create a new source of employment and economic stimulus.

The PRADA committee will report its findings to the governor in February. Its report will show that the economic development possibilities associated with relocation will be significant for creating jobs and new development.

It will also recommend that a new PRADA committee continue the feasibility study by requesting specific proposals bids (called RFPs) for the relocation. This new committee will take into consideration the availability of volunteers (who are an essential part to the workings of the prison) and the current prison facility employees. We do not want to lose well-trained employees or dedicated volunteers.

If the required legislative benchmarks are met, the committee will issue contracts to move the prison and develop the old prison site. After those contracts are issued and accepted, it is expected to take 30 to 36 months to relocate the prison. During that time period, normal attrition is expected to alleviate most of the change in the existing workforce.

I do not appreciate the negative aspersions cast on our work. This has been a methodical and transparent process with the best interest of the entire state always at the forefront.

Scott Jenkins is a state senator representing District 20.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company