As the controversy heats up over relocating the State Prison new coalition calling itself “People Not Prisons” is making the case why that might be a good idea.
Advocacy groups such as the ACLU, the Disability Law Center, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah say there’s too much focus on where the new prison will be, rather than what it will do. Jean Hill is a representative of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. She says they hope to dispel some of the false information out there.
“Let’s get past the idea that a prison brings a criminal element, because that is a false idea," Hill says. "And let’s keep in mind that we’re dealing with human beings. Whether it’s the people that work within the walls or the people who are staying with the walls, they are all human beings and we want to make sure that they’re being treated as such.”
Jamie Justice is the Executive Director of NAMI-Utah. She says what the group really wants is to make sure inmates get the most effective treatment and rehabilitation available.
“We don’t necessarily have an opinion on where it ends up being, but we know based on all of the studies that have been done to date that it needs to move," Justice says. "That we can’t have an effective facility that’s conducive to an environment of rehabilitation and safety without a move.”
The Prison Relocation Commission is currently holding several open houses near the five potential sites. They’ve already received considerable opposition from local community groups and municipalities.