This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Given how often the possibility of prison was factored into my childhood, I should be something of an expert on the matter. Maybe it's time for me to weigh in on where the Utah State Prison should relocate from its current home in Draper.
Possible new locations under consideration are in Tooele County near Grantsville, a marshy area near the airport in Salt Lake City and in Utah County near Eagle Mountain.
Arguments pro and con for each of these locations range from "somewhere else" to … well, "somewhere else."
Only two things are certain.
One, Utah needs a prison. A certain percentage of any population will have a problem handling personal freedom constructively. We'll need somewhere to put them.
Two, this required prison is going to be located somewhere (including where it already is) that upsets people. Everyone agrees that a prison is needed, they just don't want it in their neighborhood.
Since it's a given that people are going to be upset no matter where it's located, we should probably just factor that part out of the equation. It isn't whether people will be upset, but rather who we care the least about.
Personally, I think the prison would work just fine if we installed bars on the windows and doors of the state Capitol. A little bit of wire, a few guards, and some spotlights would spruce the place up nicely.
Turning the current Legislature into a prison would work great. Anyone who didn't behave themselves in a manner the general public thought appropriate would have to stay there until they do.
Note: I understand this proposal runs counter to my previous suggestion that the Legislature be relocated to the State Hospital in Provo.
However, I now concede that neither proposition would be in the best interests of the people (us).
Since the state Legislature doesn't want the prison in their neighborhood either and they're the ones with most of the say right now it will have to be "somewhere else."
Current wisdom has the location dependent almost entirely on the attitude of , "What could it hurt?" By this they mean an area already blighted enough to be nowhere.
I say let's put it in an area already considered to be somewhere. Like, oh, I don't know … Park City?
Hey, it's close to the Wasatch Front. Prison workers won't have a long commute. There are plenty of potentially supportive businesses in place, and even if there's a mass escape the local population won't notice. They'll just think it's another Sundance Film Festival.
Federal Heights is another excellent location for a new prison. So, too, are Holladay, Bountiful, Alpine/Highland, and even right smack downtown.
I realize that all of these places are inhabited by some of the most affluent and powerful people in the state. That's the point. If we put the new prison next to City Creek, maybe then the Department of Corrections wouldn't get funded every year like an afterthought.
But my absolute favorite location is everywhere. Yeah, with a New Inmate Foster Care program we wouldn't have to spend a lot on a new prison. No one would be forced to accept the whole thing in their neighborhood.
Instead, everyone would get a chance (based on prisoner availability) to take a little bit of the prison home with them to feed, guard, care for and rehabilitate. How much more fair could it be?