State Prison System Will Be Full by 2015, Officials Tell Lawmakers

(KCPW News) About 80 percent of those who are incarcerated in Utah suffer from some sort of addiction and a third of inmates are sex offenders, state corrections officials told Utah lawmakers yesterday. And Mike Haddon, Deputy Director of the Department of Corrections, says since 1982, the incarceration rate has grown by 408 percent. He says typically, the state contracts with county sheriffs for additional beds, but they anticipate the prison system will occupy all of them by 2015. So what does the state do after that?

“That’s the question that we’ve been talking about for some time and we know it presents a lot of concern, because the price tag on building another prison is about $30 million. And yet, that’s exactly what we will need to house our maximum security guys,” he said.

Haddon adds maximum security inmates can’t be housed in county jails with dorm-style cells.

House Minority Leader David Litvack suggests putting resources into programs like sex offender and substance abuse treatment, instead of building new facilities.

“We as a legislature have to begin to understand that if we start investing in programs now, while it’s going to require and necessitate some upfront dollars, we very well in the long run could be saving quite a few resources,” says Litvack.

Litvack says the new parole violator center lawmakers set aside $3.6 million dollars to build on Salt Lake City’s west side is an example of the legislature working with the Department of Corrections to tackle prison overpopulation.