Draper Prepares for State Prison Move


Justin Prather

The front gate of the Utah State Prison in Draper. (Photo by Justin Prather | The Utah Chronicle).

By Angelyn Ramos, News Writer

On the left of Porter Rockwell Boulevard in Draper, Utah stands a high school and a new community of homes, townhomes and businesses. Directly adjacent is the Utah State Correctional Facility.

The facility contains both male and female units, as well as the state juvenile facility. Draper Mayor Troy Walker took notice of the dichotomy and set out to change it.

With a new prison set to open in 2022, the Utah legislative and executive branches have been working to show that the relocation  would indeed prove to be beneficial for all parties. While the move of the prison is a collaborative effort within the entirety of the state Legislature, Mayor Walker made this an especially important point in the most recent election cycle. 

 “We have actually been working on moving the prison since I was originally elected to a city council position,” Walker said. “So, for about 14 years. During that time we working to prove that moving prison would be economically beneficial to not only the city of Draper, but to the whole state.” 

The high school had only been established in 2010, with additional developments to follow. The decade-old plan seemed preemptive. “Moving the Draper location was the result of a lot of factors. It was the potential for economic development. The current location is right in the middle of the Silicon Slopes — there is a lot of potential there. It also gives us a unique opportunity to build a new prison to modern standards for a lot less than it costs to run the prison currently. Additionally, it gives the Department of Corrections the chance to build a prison that will hopefully decrease recidivism,” said Walker.

Walker continues to prepare for the future. “This will benefit more than my city, it will benefit everyone. Our goal is to make it the most valuable and profitable it can be. In order to make this work, it has to be something different … There have actually not been any decided plans or even proposals. If I had it my way, we would make this an area that is not automotive centric. You would have to take public transport to get there and to travel around the area. This is our opportunity to prove to Utahns that it can be done and it must be done.” 

All that separates the outside world from those incarcerated within is concrete and barbed wire. The effect the move has on those held within its walls will not go unnoticed.

Erin Castro is a University of Utah assistant professor and the co-director and co-founder of the University of Utah Prison Education Program. “I think that all physical structures shape behavior of people within it — so, yes this will likely affect everyone within the prison,” Castro said. “ I think that anytime a prison relocates, one of the most important things to consider is how it will affect people in custody and their friends/families’ abilities to visit them.” 

Students and families commute constantly on Porter Rockwell, all the while passing several large concrete buildings surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire. Within those concrete walls individuals tagged by only a number and the color orange wait for their next chance to see the daylight. In 2022, those walls will come down as the Utah State Prison moves.


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