In Depth: Call your Legislators on Misguided Senate Budget Proposal

Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO) leaders and members are completely opposed to Sen. John Proos’ recent budget recommendation for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Proos, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Corrections, has proposed a corrections budget that undercuts the governor’s proposal by $25 million dollars. Under the Senate recommendation, these savings would be achieved by closing yet another unspecified prison, reducing funding to train new corrections officers and  eliminating transition costs to return food service from a private vendor back to state employees.

The House budget recommendation, released previously, concurs with the Senates proposal to close another prison but would keep training and transition costs intact. MCO along with the MDOC are strongly opposed to a closure with the Department stating on the record that space does not currently exist within the corrections system to warrant a closure at this time.

MCO supports Gov. Rick Snyder’s recommended corrections budget, which includes funding for 359 new officers and transitioning food service back to a state operation.

The Senate budget would set back the MDOC in their efforts on offender success and corrections officer recruitment and retention – meaning everyone from prisoners to staff would feel the negative impact. In addition, the proposal would further strain other institutions by creating a system of overcrowding and understaffing that has proven deadly across the united states.

Proos’ budget proposal would cut funding for corrections officer training at a time when many COs are forced to work 16-hour days two or more times a week (at the expense of their mental and physical well-being), and the MDOC is at least 600 officers short, with about 50 more leaving every month.

Even though two prisons have closed in the last two years, including one just a few weeks ago, this budget proposal calls for yet another closure. MDOC administrators and MCO leaders and members all agree – this recommendation is misguided and short-sighted. Real corrections reform and long-term cost savings much be achieved through innovation and partnership with all stakeholders, not just indiscriminate closures and cuts.

It’s also concerning that the Senate has seemingly learned nothing from the MDOC’s failed experiments with Aramark and Trinity and is proposing privatization of prison nurse positions.

MCO chapter presidents met in Lansing for an Executive Council meeting April 18 and unanimously signed on to letters opposing the House and Senate budget proposals. Read the House and Senate letters.

MCO will advocate in full force against this dangerous budget recommendation but we are asking that members call their state representative and state senator to educate them on the dangers these proposals pose. As the budget process continues moving forward we will keep you updated with the most up to date news and analysis.