Below is information on several legislative developments last week. MCO staff is sharing this information in an effort to better educate members on corrections conversations and decisions happening in Michigan and the nation.
The Senate has approved a budget that could possibly close two unnamed prisons and require the MDOC to lease and operate the privately-owned Baldwin facility.
MCO has actively opposed the Senate plan and believes MDOC’s current practice of closing housing units is in the best interest of the state and staff. Should the overall inmate population continue to decline, a more comprehensive discussion on a closure could be coming; but MCO is hoping the legislature leaves the decision up to the Department.
Sen. John Proos, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections, has asked MDOC to let him know by the end of this month which prisons could possibly be closed. At this time, MCO leaders do not know when this information could be shared with the union or made public.
The Governor and the House have proposed budgets that do not call for any closures or leases. The Senate and House must agree to one budget, before it can move to the governor for approval. We will continue to closely monitor the budget and keep members updated.
Other legislative news:
The Senate has introduced a 20-bill criminal justice reform package.
Some of the measures included in the bills would allow outside employers to receive grants for hiring a probationer or parolee; give judges flexibility in probation decisions; change penalties for technical violations of probation; collect data on criminal justice and recidivism; and add youthful offender programing.
The House and Senate have agreed to a Concurrent Resolution to encourage the Governor to change the name of the Michigan Department of Corrections to the Michigan Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The resolution states: “The names of state departments should reflect their mission and the priorities assigned by the Governor and Legislature. Adding rehabilitation to the MDOC’s name will more clearly articulate the department’s vision to employees, offenders, and the general public…”
Keep in mind, concurrent resolutions express the sentiment or intent of both chambers, on matters of interest to the legislature, state, or nation. They do not carry the force of law. Neither the Governor nor the Department of Corrections is required to act on this resolution.
The House has approved a plan to make it possible for certain geriatric inmates to parole out to nursing homes, which could potentially shift the cost of their care from MDOC to Medicaid.
Rep. Al Pscholka is sponsoring the legislation and inquiring about the legality of Medicaid picking up the tab for these potential parolees, according to media reports.
Next, the Senate will consider the plan.
The idea of moving geriatric and very ill patients to nursing homes is not new. Michigan legislators have discussed alternative care options for these types of inmates for years. MCO is unclear on how many inmates would be involved.
MCO will continue to share developments on these proposals as they progress.