Purgatory Correctional Facility

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Purgatory Correctional Facility is the county jail of Washington County, Utah. Also known as the Washington County Jail, it is located near St. George, Utah, at Purgatory Flats, hence its unusual name.[1]

Technically lying within the borders of Hurricane, Utah, the facility is about halfway between downtown St. George and downtown Hurricane at Harrisburg Junction (the junction of I-15 and SR-9). It has a semi-rural setting in the shadow of a steep ridge, part of the Virgin Rivers anticline.[2][3] The Virgin River flows north of the ridge.

Purgatory Correctional Facility has a typical occupancy of 400 to 500 inmates, with 150 employees and a full-time medical clinic.[4][5] The estimated cost of the facility, completed in 1998, was $11,570,000.[6] It was designed by the architectural firm of Gillies, Stransky, Brems & Smith of Salt Lake City.[7] Situated on South 5200 West Road, the Correctional Facility is located within a growing business park area, including the Fairgrounds Industrial Park and the Quail Creek Industrial Park. Tenants nearby include the Washington County Department of Motor Vehicles; to the north is Washington County Regional Fair Park which includes Dixie Downs, a horse racing track, and the Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park.[8][9] Also nearby, Walmart has a large distribution center.[10]

In order to cut its operating costs, as well as to reduce recidivism, in 2008 the Sheriff's Office began charging inmates to stay at the jail, which is co-ed.[11] In 2005 it had a recidivism rate of 75 percent.[12]

The Purgatory jail made headlines in 2006 when it was the scene of incarceration for Warren Jeffs, following his flight from justice.[13] He stayed there for twelve months before trial and conviction for two first degree felony counts of rape,[14] at which time he was transferred to Utah State Prison.


  1. ^ Peter Lattman, Law Blog Prison of the Day: Purgatory Correctional Facility, Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2007
  2. ^ Bruce Railsback, "A Virtual Field Trip to the Virgin Anticline" Department of Geology, University of Georgia
  3. ^ Robert F. Biek, "Geologic Map of the Harrisburg Junction quadrangle, Washington County, Utah", 2003 Utah Geological Survey
  4. ^ Dixie State College, "Tuesday's DSC Dixie Forum Features Stories and Experiences in Law Enforcement", April 8, 2010
  5. ^ Ryan Larkin, "The Role of Nurses at Purgatory Correctional Facility" Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine, Washington County Sheriff's Office, March 25, 2011
  6. ^ Integrated Construction Services: Estimates
  7. ^ Alan Dean Gardner, "The facts on selection of jail architect", Deseret News, September 10, 1997
  8. ^ Washington County Regional Fair Park
  9. ^ Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park Archived 2011-05-04 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Wikimapia: Purgatory Correctional Facility
  11. ^ Ben Winslow, "'Pay to stay' at the Purgatory Jail", Deseret News, June 28, 2008
  12. ^ Five County Association of Governments, 2006 annual Report, p. 54
  13. ^ Howard Berkes, “Polygamist Held in Purgatory”, US National Public Radio, September 6, 2006
  14. ^ Rachel Bell, "False Prophet: Warren Jeffs", "Chapter 12: Warren Jeffs' Trial"

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Coordinates: 37°09′30″N 113°24′44″W / 37.15833°N 113.41222°W / 37.15833; -113.41222