Ribbon cutting held at new state correctional facility
SALT LAKE CITY — After years of planning, the new Utah State Correctional Facility is ready to house prisoners.
On Wednesday, Gov. Spencer Cox and the director of corrections held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the facility, located west of the Salt Lake City International Airport.
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State leaders hope that this new facility will lead to new lives for those incarcerated here.
“This is a big change for us,” Cox said. “What we found is that our recidivism rates are rising and that’s deeply concerning.”
The new Utah State Correctional Facility, which holds 3,600 beds, aims to tackle those challenges with new programming.
“We will be teaching the inmates, giving them opportunities to improve, giving them the tools they need to overcome addiction, to overcome trauma, and helping them find a better way to live their lives,” he said.
The governor was joined Wednesday by Brian Nielson, executive director of the department of corrections, and other dignitaries.
“We house people here by their behavior. Everyone is housed by their behavior, not necessarily the crime they committed, but how they behave once they’re here,” Nielson said.
Leaders called the ribbon cutting for the new facility a historic day, saying the state corrections facility was much needed and is state of the art.
It is designed to give corrections officers more interaction with the inmates, and to create better lighting and a better atmosphere inside the facility.
“This facility is going to be better for inmates, better for our valued and important correction officers, and better for the state of Utah,” said House Speaker Brad Wilson.
“The hope is that, as they leave and come back into society, that they won’t end up back in prison, but that they’ll end up actually improving their lives and contributing back to society,” Cox said.
Officials are still recruiting about 200 corrections officers, hoping that a raise slated for July will be an extra incentive.
“We are short of correctional employees like right now. Like everyone else, there is a worker shortage in the state of Utah. So, this is a great opportunity for us to remind people who work for the prison before it’s a great time to come back with the increased pay,” Cox said.
They will start moving prisoners over from the Draper facility in the next few weeks, and complete that transfer during the next two months. Once they start that transfer, it should go pretty quickly because they don’t have the staffing for two prisons at the same time.
As for the current site of the Draper facility, a massive project is planned. This means tearing down the old state prison and putting in its place a variety of developments, including affordable housing.
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