DALLAS — Utah has abruptly withdrawn requests for proposals to relocate the Utah State Prison in Draper, citing the need for more evaluation of the state's incarceration requirements.
A committee studying the relocation of the prison 20 miles south of Salt Lake City halted the process on Wednesday on the recommendation of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice with concurrence from Gov. Gary Hebert.
Herbert told the Salt Lake City Tribune that he had not signed off on three unofficial bid solicitations the committee posted three weeks ago on the state Division of Facilities Construction and Management website.
A timeline proposed by the planning committee called for bids to be submitted by Dec. 2. The committee, known as the Prison Relocation and Development Authority, planned to forward a recommendation to the governor and Legislature by Jan. 31 to coincide with the start of the 2014 session.
With the RFP process on hold, PRADA will recommend to the 2014 Legislature that the state expand the state's other prison, the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. But PRADA will not have a recommendation on the future of the Draper prison until the 2015 legislative session, according to PRADA chairman Lane Summerhays.
During that time, MGT of America Inc., a Florida-based consulting firm hired by the committee two weeks ago, will work with corrections officials on how to design the most efficient system, given the emphasis on reducing recidivism amid declining incarceration rates.
The 11-member PRADA board includes six appointees by the governor, two senators, two members of the state House and an appointee from the city of Draper.
The 2013 Utah Legislature created the authority.
Unlike the rural Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, the USP occupies coveted land in the developing Salt Lake City metropolitan area. Companies such as eBay and Microsoft have operations near the 700-acre prison, and advocates of relocation envision similar development once the prison is gone.
The cost of relocating the prison has been estimated at $600 million and would be financed through the triple-A state's bonding authority.
The Draper prison opened in 1951 and is known as the site of Gary Gilmore's execution by firing squad in 1977, an event that ended a 10-year legal hiatus in the death penalty across the U.S.
The Central Utah Correctional Facility was opened in 1990 and can house as many as approximately 1,600 male inmates.