Will Utah’s population boom result in a new prison?

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Will Utah's population boom result in new prison?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Could Utah be home to another new prison? How about another jail? Due to our state’s population boom and overcrowded institutions, it’s a possibility.

According to a recent report from The Utah Foundation, the Utah State Prison in Draper can house up to 4,500 offenders, both male and female. The Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison can hold 1,600 males.

That means both of Utah’s prisons combined, has 6,100 beds.

According to the report, as of September 2018, there were 6,636 prisoners in the beehive state, which means we’re over capacity.

ABC4’s Brittany Johnson took these numbers to Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sim Gill.

“We’re going to be growing. Whether we pay attention or not, this avalanche is going to hit us,” said Gill. “The answer isn’t to build a third prison and a fourth prison because that’s just a defeating fatalistic approach without the outcomes we want,” he added.

The district attorney said Utah is in this position due to putting the wrong people behind bars.

“The person who should be in prison, or in jail, is someone who is a risk to my community. A person who is a risk to your physical safety. We should not be using precious resources to lock up people that we dislike; people who are mentally ill, people who are drug addicted, people who are non-violent offenders,” the District Attorney explained.

According to Gill, the solution is research-based treatment and restorative justice programs, something he’s helped start since his time as city prosecutor 18 years ago.

“There are smart methodologies that are available to us that are giving us better return on investment and reducing recidivism without compromising public safety.” … “If we don’t take advantage of that opportunity then it’s going to be business as usual. We will exhaust the beds that we have and we better start looking for a third prison.”

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