Legislators should declare conflicts of interest in prison move

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH, a longtime observer of the Prison Relocation and Development Authority, has released the following statement following the Utah House Republican Caucus’ decision to move forward with the prison relocation:

“We hope state legislators will take advantage of the historic opportunity they have to lead the rest of the country in reforming what is largely a broken criminal justice system in their process to move the prison. But that process must occur as transparently as possible by ensuring an open outcome for all stakeholders: the taxpayers, the correctional officers, the prison volunteers, the inmates, the communities and families to which those inmates return, and the residents of Utah.

“Absent among that list of stakeholders should be our state legislators. Currently, there are 21 representatives who have real estate and development ties. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser is himself a developer. All legislators with real estate ties should publicly declare a conflict of interest on their respective floors before they vote to approve a prison move. Since Utah law does not allow legislators to abstain from voting, those same legislators should prohibit themselves, through code, from engaging in any real estate doings that result from the prison move.

“Additionally, comprehensive prison reform, as County Mayor Ben McAdams and Rep. Eric Hutchings have suggested, must be a crucial element in building a new prison. The new prison should be modeled on the prison policy of the future. Mandatory minimum sentencing, changes to drug crimes, alternative sentencing options, pre-release facilities, probation-offender centers, and post-incarceration treatment options should all be addressed.”

Maryann Martindale
Executive Director, Alliance for a Better UTAH
801.557.1532 | maryann@betterutah.org

Isaac Holyoak
Communications Director, Alliance for a Better UTAH
801.664.9751 | isaac@betterutah.org

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