Michigan’s downward spiralling budget led Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) to announce plans to close 3 prisons and 5 prison camps. The move will bring an undetermined number of layoffs and early release for as many as 4,000 felons. It follows on the heals of May’s executive order cutting 100 State Troopers and reductions in local revenue sharing. Revenue sharing is often touted as a source of funding for police and fire.
So, let’s see. More criminals on the streets. State Police troopers down by 10%. Likely layoffs of community police officers. Isn’t that like trying to put out the fire with gasoline?
Some think so, sort of. “I’m just not that comfortable letting this many convicted felons out into a poor economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi (D-Ishpeming). His Upper Penninsula district will lose 60 jobs when Camp Cusino in Shingleton closes. Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections, is also concerned:
“Michigan has the highest crime rate in the Midwest. So what are we doing closing prisons? Is that going to reduce the crime rate? The governor made her commitment over two years ago to let 6,000 people out of prison. I thought that was nuts. But she is doing it. Public safety is at risk.”
As part of the closures, over 4,000 inmates need to be relocated to other prisons. Camp Cassidy Lake is the last of MDOC’s camps to remain open; it is a boot camp style facility. About 1,070 employees will also be transferred or laid off. Granholm intends to plug $120 million of next year’s state budget shortfall with these moves. Following are the facilities slated to close:
- Hiawatha Correctional Facility, Kinchloe (eastern UP)—medium security
- Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon (West Michigan)—medium security
- Standish Maximum Correctional Facility, Standish (northeastern Michigan)—maximum security
- Camp Cusino, Shingleton (north-central UP)—minimum security
- Camp Kitwen, Painesdale (northwestern UP)—minimum security
- Camp Lehman, Grayling (north-central Michigan)—minimum security
- Camp Ottawa, Iron River (southwestern UP)—minimum security
- Camp White Lake, Pontiac (southeastern Michigan)—minimu security (females)
There are predictions of a warmer than average summer. Michigan has the highest unemployment. Detroit’s city council has become irrationally racially charged. Cops are being layed off. And criminals are being let loose. The question seems to be, is Gov. Granholm playing Russian roulette?