Tomorrow, Republicans in the House will again use divisive politics in an effort to ram a private prison bill through the legislature and put officer safety at risk.
If passed, SB 878 would allow the Michigan Department of Corrections to house adult inmates in a privately-run corrections facility.
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As you may recall, a private facility in Baldwin was run by the GEO Group from 1999 to 2005 to house MDOC youthful offenders. Funding for that contract was cancelled in 2005 because a study by the Michigan Auditor General showed that the daily cost per inmate at the facility was greater than 33 of the State’s 37 other facilities run by the DOC.
= More Costly
The facility in Baldwin has undergone extensive renovation and now can house upwards of 1700 inmates. SB 878 would change current Corrections Code to allow the housing of inmates of all ages and levels at the facility. MDOC incarceration rates have been declining for several years. These factors combined mean that entering an agreement with the GEO Group in Baldwin would equate to the closure of at least two MDOC operated prisons.
=State Employee Layoffs
Public Safety is inherently a government function. When the State takes action to incarcerate an individual and restrict their rights (to the point of physical force if necessary) during their confinement, the State should maintain responsibility for those actions. That should not be contracted out to private, for profit organizations who are held to different standards for transparency and liability.
= Loss of Accountability
It didn’t work then, so why would the Legislators expect a different outcome this time? The Legislature seems determined to see history repeat itself, all at the expense of taxpayer dollars, state employee jobs, and accountability.