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The state of Utah currently has just two functioning prisons, the Utah State Prison, also known as Draper, and Gunnison prison. Each prison houses inmates at varying levels of custody; housing assignments are based on each prison’s policies and population. 

For example, Gunnison is a medium-security prison, meaning that inmates housed in this prison are required to remain within the fencing around the prison. However, if the inmate has a set parole date, they may be eligible to receive a work assignment, allowing them temporary and supervised time away from the prison grounds, while also working toward bettering their life after prison.

Gunnison prison is primarily contained to one centralized building. In contrast, the Draper campus has eight facilities in total, housing over 4,000 male and female inmates, ranging from minimum security to death row.

The Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) focuses on rehabilitating inmates, in the hopes that they will prosper following their release. Even as early as the inmate’s intake, the information provided for and about the inmate is immediately put into use to create a Case Action Plan (CAP), specific to that inmate’s goals and needs.

While in prison, inmates have the opportunity to participate in a variety of programs, including some in which they can obtain their high school diploma, or study for a skilled trade, ultimately obtaining a vocational certificate through one of the accredited colleges affiliated with the prison or jail. Male inmates have seven different vocational options to choose from, while female inmates have access to two options. They also have the opportunity to attend treatment or therapy for several various addictions or illnesses.

Many of the vocational and GED programs are made possible through the payments made by the families and friends when calling their loved ones in prison. Inmates are responsible for paying for their education, but like any struggling student, they can repay by turning to the financial aid made possible by student loans.

In the Promontory Facility located on the Draper prison grounds, a program known as Con-Quest is available to inmates who struggle with substance abuse and have expressed interest in seeking treatment. 

The program, which is open to 400 inmates, is streamlined toward holding inmates accountable for their actions while simultaneously providing them with healthier and safer alternatives to their current coping mechanisms or addiction. While taking part in Con-Quest, they are responsible for spending at least 40 hours a week in approved programs or classes.

The housing situation in Gunnison is similar to that of Draper as inmates kept at Gunnison are also housed separately. However, instead of grouping inmates together based on their level of custody, they are accommodated based on the type of crime for which they are convicted.

Aside from the two prisons located in the state of Utah, there are also nineteen county jails spread throughout the state. Inmates that are sent to one of the county jails rather than one of the state prisons are evaluated on several facets, including their current mental status, the crime of which they are convicted, they’re past experience with gangs and several other factors.

The county jails offer many programs similar to those made available in the state prisons, ensuring they are still provided with ample opportunity to improve upon their situation or circumstances.

If at any time you are ever unsure of a loved one’s whereabouts, whether you know they’re in the prison/jail system or not, you can almost always find them by utilizing a site that will perform a search, ultimately showing you information such as a background check free of charge.

Carol K.