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The Utah House gave a resounding endorsement Tuesday of moving the state prison from its current location in Draper, setting the stage for the relocation as early as 2018.
"This is a big issue for the State of Utah for the Department of Corrections," said Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville. "I think that these decisions we'll make about the prison over the next few years are going to make a big difference to the citizens of the state, the taxpayers and the folks who find themselves unfortunately behind bars."
The resolution, HCR8, which passed the House on a vote of 70-3, states that it is in the best interest of the state to build a new prison away from the current location on 700 acres in Draper and lays out principles that should guide the decision on the new location.
The Prison Relocation and Development Authority studied the issue for two years and recommended relocating the current prison.
It will cost about $600 million to build the new prison. About 7,000 inmates are in the corrections system now, but more bed space will be needed by 2018, even if the state relies more on beds leased from county jails.
Moving the prison would yield about $1.8 billion in economic benefit a year, according to a report by a consultant hired by the PRADA board.
Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley City, said she supports the PRADA findings, but urged caution with the move.
"When there's a chunk of land that big that's going to be available for developers … [I suggest] we watch very carefully how this is done, because when there's valuable land to be had, there is always room for I'll say problems to arise," she said.
The measure now goes to the Senate where Wilson said he anticipates it will pass easily.
"My understanding is that they're fully" on board, Wilson said.