Gov. Herbert discusses whether or not state prison should be relocated

Posted at 8:43 PM, Feb 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-26 23:25:19-05

DRAPER, Utah -- The Utah State Prison will be rebuilt, but will it move?

State lawmakers heard Governor Gary Herbert voice his doubts for the first time in his monthly news conference held at the University of Utah’s Dolores Dore Eccles Broadcast Center.

"I have said if there is a better place to relocate the prison than Draper, let's move it," Herbert said. "If we cannot find a better place than Draper then we need to reconsider keeping it in Draper."

State Senator Jerry Stevenson thinks it’s a clear choice.

"It's in the best interest of the taxpayer of the state of Utah and the people who are using the facility to move it,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson, a Republican from Layton, is co-chair of the Prison Relocation Commission, which has studied moving the prison for one year, after two years of study by the Prison Relocation and Development Authority.

Stevenson and his co-chair, State Representative Brad Wilson--a Republican from Davis County, proposed a plan to allow the Commission itself to make a final site selection for the prison. The legislature would have to grant them that decision-making authority.

"I think we're probably very capable of that,” Stevenson said.

The governor says lawmakers would be shirking their own responsibility and denying him a say in the process if they agreed to let the Commission decide.

"I think they're just trying to find a way to expedite the issue and take the heat off the legislature," Herbert said. "We've been elected to make tough decisions."