Utah’s new state prison is here, but some prisoners’ families are worried about the transfer

State leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony for Utah’s new billion-dollar state correctional facility on Wednesday. It is located approximately nine miles north of Salt Lake International Airport and is surrounded by parcels of land and numerous fences and barbed wire.

The project has been in the works for years, and now that it’s here, families are concerned about what the move from Draper’s current prison will mean for their loved ones.

Briana Scroggins

/

Special for KUER

The new Utah State Correctional Center in Salt Lake City has been nearing completion since Monday, June 6, 2022. It is expected to be in full use by mid-fall of this year.

Gayle Dawes’ daughter, Joy, has been at Timpanogos State Prison Women’s Facility for approximately 12 years. Although excited, Dawes is also concerned about the disruption of work and education programs.

“The women weren’t prepared for the move until a few months ago and we didn’t even know what they were taking [terms] property,” she said. “The last class she had was culinary about a month ago, and all classes have stopped. And they won’t start again, I believe, until August.

Dawes also worries about the lack of employment and the impact this will have on her daughter and the ability of other prisoners to afford a commissioner.

“She has our support, but I worry about some women who don’t have anyone to help them. And then the small amount of money they earn. And I don’t think anyone is going to work for a while to earn an income,” she said.

220606_Utah State Correctional Facility 464.jpg

Briana Scroggins

/

Special for KUER

A wing of the maximum-security building’s living quarters uses only one door between bedrooms and the lobby at the new Utah State Correctional Facility in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 6, 2022. The facility will be fully utilized by mid-fall this year.

“Anxiety comes from fear and the unknown,” said Molly Prince, member of the Utah Prisoner Advocates Network and social worker. She worked to understand some of those logistics for families.

“So one of the things we encourage is asking questions and trying to get answers. We at UPAN can try to get some of those answers for them. But we also encourage family members to email corrections and ask urgent questions,” she said.

Overall, Prince and Dawes are excited about what this new facility will mean for rehabilitation.

The 1.35 million square foot prison incorporates more natural light, additional classrooms for programming, chapels, gymnasiums and medical beds. It has different levels of security for the general population to maximum security.

220606_Utah State Correctional Facility 311.jpg

Briana Scroggins

/

Special for KUER

Natural light pours into the geriatric wing of the new Utah State Correctional Facility on Monday, June 6, 2022. Natural light and increased glass areas were considered in the design of the new facility. This Salt Lake City facility will be fully utilized by mid-fall of this year.

220606_Utah State Correctional Facility 304.jpg

Briana Scroggins

/

Special for KUER

Natural light pours into the geriatric wing of the new Utah State Correctional Facility on Monday, June 6, 2022. Natural light and increased glass areas were considered in the design of the new facility. This Salt Lake City facility will be fully utilized by mid-fall of this year.

Utah Department of Corrections Deputy Director Brian Kenney said they are allowing visits, phone calls and access to programming until the move occurs. This should happen over the next two weeks.

“Our goal is to help the offender seize every possible opportunity. So when they come back to the community they will be a productive member, be able to have a job, be able to raise a family and hopefully leave this life and start a new life and be a responsible citizen for all of us,” he said.

The prison campus has dozens of buildings that span about 350 acres, according to Kenney, and are expected to house about 3,500 beds or more. He said that decision was a long time coming and dominated most of his career.

220606_Utah State Correctional Facility 213.jpg

Briana Scroggins

/

Special for KUER

Natural light streams into the mental health wing of the new Utah State Correctional Facility on Monday, June 6, 2022. The new facility in Salt Lake City will be in full use by mid-fall of this year .

220606_Utah State Correctional Facility 199.jpg

Briana Scroggins

/

Special for KUER

The radiology room at the new Utah State Correctional Facility nears completion Monday, June 6, 2022. The Utah State Correctional Facility in Salt Lake City is expected to be fully utilized by mid -autumn of this year.

“We are moving a city between offenders and staff infrastructure. I mean, we’re basically our own self-contained city,” he said. “So not only do we provide all the community resources that you have in a city, but we also provide them here from water, electricity, sewage, food and housing. So the overall scale of a movement like this is probably the biggest challenge.

The full transfer is expected to be completed by mid-autumn. The old Draper Prison will be redeveloped once closed.

About Stephen Ewing

Check Also

Framework and Toolkit for Infection Prevention and Control in Outbreak Preparedness, Preparedness and Response at the Health Care Facility Level

Insight Infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics are increasing in frequency, scale and impact. Healthcare facilities …