LANSING, Michigan—MCO-SEIU One Voice Campaign issued the following statement on the Michigan Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections proposed cuts to the MDOC budget:
The Senate proposal to reduce the Michigan Department of Corrections budget by $41.6 million will jeopardize safety for prison staff and inmates and will deprive corrections officers of critical tools, such as adequate staffing and training they need to perform the wide range of duties expected of them.
These proposed cuts come at a time when we should be looking to reduce mandated over time, address understaffing, develop training that better prepares staff for the range of responsibilities that are required of modern corrections officers, and grapple with the stress and trauma impacting officers across the criminal justice system.
As the chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections, Sen. John Proos’ (R-St. Joseph) framing of the budget question as a choice between investing in public services, like education and roads, or the prison system, is disingenuous and, at best, misleading. The 6,500 men and women of the Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO-SEIU) put their lives on the line every day to protect the public and ensure our prisons are safe. The Michigan Department of Corrections along with the hard work of these officers has an established track record of helping to reduce the state’s inmate population while keeping the community safe. Sacrificing the safety of prison staff and inmates for political purposes is detrimental to public safety.
Alleged cost-saving measures have proven ineffective and caused numerous issues in Michigan prisons. These include inconsistent food quality, which laid the groundwork for a violent outburst in September at Kinross Correctional Facility, which cost taxpayers nearly $1 million in damages and other costs. The proposal now to cut services for the mentally ill and limit capacity at Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility shows that Sen. Proos is missing the long-term impact of these reductions. His spreadsheets and questionable calculations miss the real life, humane aspects of corrections.
Corrections officers across the country are concerned because draconian budget cuts impact conditions and lead to over-crowding in state prisons. They result in prisons housing more inmates than they were originally designed to hold, which compromises safety for both prison staff and inmates. We stand united to advocate for meaningful reforms to our criminal justice system that put corrections employees, communities, and inmate safety ahead of partisan politics.
One Voice is a campaign to unite corrections officers together with criminal justice activists, leaders, and organizations to advance a unified approach to our nation’s criminal justice reform efforts. Michigan Corrections Organization/SEIU represents more than 6,500 corrections and forensic officers working at state prisons and at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry. The 2 million members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are united by belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. We are dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.