Better Utah: reform should accompany new prison

SALT LAKE CITY – Reforming prison policy should be part of the process of building a new state prison in Utah, according to Isaac Holyoak, communications director, Alliance for a Better UTAH. State lawmakers formed the Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA) to consider locations where the new prison could be built. 

Holyoak said the Utah State Prison in Draper is overcrowded and the state needs to do something to fix the problem. He suggested that state lawmakers reduce overcrowding by keeping drug-users and other nonviolent offenders out of prison.

“It would also include more accessibility to things like ankle bracelets or using new technology to keep track of people who are on parole, rather than just sending them directly back into the system,” Holyoak said.

PRADA is now taking public input on the sites being considered for the new prison. The group is expected to present its findings to state lawmakers early next year. 

Holyoak said keeping nonviolent offenders out of prison will help reduce stress on an overwhelmed system.

“It saves the state tons of money, and it reduces overcrowding in prisons. Also, just from a strictly I don’t know if you want to call it a ‘philosophical’ point of view or not, the way we treat our prisoners matters for our own sense of moral justice and compassion,” Holyoak said.

The state may not build a new prison, he added, but could relocate inmates to county jails to reduce overcrowding.

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