If You Build It, They Will Come: Improved Security, Rehabilitation, and Economic Benefits of Prison Relocation

September 12, 2022

In July of 2022, Utah’s new state correctional facility opened in Salt Lake City. At a total price tag of just over $1 billion, the campus has 3,600 beds and a current population of 2,464. The facility conforms with the highest standards of modern prison reform, which emphasizes rehabilitation. The new prison has extensive space for programming and activities, allowing increased services to meet inmates’ needs. Compared to the old prison, the new site also utilizes a direct supervision model, which puts an officer on the floor with the inmates rather than in a control booth. This format is intended to promote interaction and help officers better identify needs of the inmates. The new prison also features large windows to bring in daylight, which can lead to improved mental health outcomes for both inmates and officers.

The Legislature’s decision to move the prison to Salt Lake City from the Draper location coincides with two major economic development opportunities for the state: the Point of the Mountain and the Utah Inland Port. Construction of the new prison brought public utility infrastructure to Salt Lake’s ‘Northwest Quadrant’ which has facilitated other development in the area, including Utah’s Inland Port and large vendors like Amazon. Development of the Northwest Quadrant is projected to generate $6.6 billion in economic activity and create over 36,000 jobs1. The old prison site, located on the fringe of the Silicon Slopes, will be redeveloped into a community called the Point—a multiuse region for housing, work, and retail, designed to be a fully-walkable community and future business/entertainment hub of Utah. It’s estimated that The Point will generate an additional $2.7 billion in economic benefit for the state and create more than 23,000 jobs between now and 20301.

Read more about the timeline for the prison’s relocation here.

Learn about the Utah Inland Port Authority and Point of the Mountain State Land Authority in this issue brief.

1. Estimates included in the Master Plan for the Potential Relocation of the Draper Prison, courtesy of the Division of Facilities and Construction Management.