In January the Ministry of Justice named the region as one of three areas alongside London and the North West of England, in the running to house a new facility.
The AM said there were ‘compelling’ reasons to site a prison in North Wales which consultants believe could be worth over £17m to the local economy.
However, he said there needed to be close consultation with any community proposed as a site to ensure public support for the project.
Mr Skates said: “I’m fully supportive of efforts to bring a secure and modern prison to North Wales. There are compelling reasons to site a prison in the region which currently does not have any facilities to house local prisoners, the only region in the UK not to do so.
“Research has suggested that the economic impact of a 1,500 place prison could be over £17m to the local economy and help to bring nearly 1000 much needed jobs to the area around it.
“One of the reasons I feel it should be considered is that many prisoners from North Wales are currently housed at HMP Altcourse. It means families of prisoners having to travel all the way to Merseyside to visit relatives and I feel that if we are going to build a new prison anyway, North Wales would be a good location.
“Importantly, I feel it could help reduce crime rates in the North Wales area. The odds of re-offending are 39% higher for prisoners who do not receive visits from a partner or a family member so it would help reduce the incentive for North Wales prisoners to commit more crime when they get back home after their sentence.
“What we need now is to look closely at all the potential sites in the region. However the main consideration in all of this is that wherever in North Wales we think is best for a prison it has the backing of the local community.
“As the process develops we need an on-going dialogue with the areas considered most appropriate and a rigorous consultation process to ensure all the issues and concerns people and communities might have are addressed adequately.”
The release of site criteria and the timescale for site selection has not yet been advertised by the Ministry of Justice but is expected imminently.