Land for New Prison Complex in Utah Purchased for $12.4 Million

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM) announced on Nov. 4 the purchase of a 323-acre site to house the state’s new correctional facility in Salt Lake City. The site, which will eventually include both new correctional facilities and necessary infrastructure, was purchased for $12.4 million. The price tag was far lower than the state originally anticipated, as earlier estimates had put potential land costs as high as $30 million.

“Since the first studies on a new correctional facility began more than 10 years ago, our priority has been to ensure the best use and return on every dollar spent,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. “The new facility will provide for the most modern, effective and efficient criminal justice system in the country; a prudent system that will keep our communities safe, reduce recidivism and respect the taxpayer.”

The new prison site underwent thorough evaluation and was studied for potential environmental constraints, construction and infrastructure costs, and compatibility with adjacent land uses, according to a statement posted on the project’s website. The site assessments and careful study on how to protect wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas on the site resulted in the state being able to purchase far less land than anticipated.

Eric Tholen, DCFM division director, noted in a statement that the site best meets the needs of Department of Corrections staff, volunteers and inmates, while at the same time addressing the interests of the community and environmental stakeholders. “The purchase is a significant milestone in the relocation process and we are looking forward to beginning work on site in the coming months,” he added.

The new correctional facility will allow the state to expand treatment and educational programs for inmates that will make the public safer by reducing the chance that people will commit new crimes after release. Construction is slated to begin before the end of the year and should take four years to complete.

“This new correctional facility is part of an overall strategy to improve our criminal justice outcomes, enhance the safety and security of our corrections system, improve operations, and reduce recidivism,” said Rollin Cook, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections, in a statement. “This strategy will help slow the growth in the number of offenders being incarcerated and the costs to provide additional prison beds.”