September 22, 2014
Michigan delegation headed to Calif. this week

SMF may get second chance

Standish prison named in Governor’s proposal to house California inmates

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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LANSING — Governor Jennifer Granholm is negotiating with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to house inmates from the Golden State, which is suffering from overcrowding, in Michigan and the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility is one prison she proposed as a possible detention center.

“She cited the Standish facility as one of the suggestions,” said the Governor’s Deputy Press Secretary Megan Brown, adding the other facility suggested was the Muskegon Correctional Facility. “Obviously this is all about jobs for Michigan

“We want to keep our workers employed.”

An excerpt from Granholm’s letter says, “At the end of July, we will be closing Standish Maximum Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison which houses 604 prisoners. It is located just off Interstate 75 north of Saginaw in Standish, Michigan, in proximity to airports. The facility was opened in 1990 and is in excellent condition. While this is a single cell facility, it could easily be reconfigured to a lower security level and be double bunked.”

According to Brown, if the California Department of Corrections is willing to make a deal with Michigan, there could be 550 jobs saved for Michigan Corrections Officers, at the expense of the state of California.

“There will be conditions,” Brown said. “The price must be right. … The prisoners would have to be returned to California eventually.

“The details are still being discussed.”

“Some details of the discussion, are things like volume and custody level of prisoners, programming and treatment requirements, health and mental health care needs, etc. And of course – prices,” said Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Public Information Officer Russell Marlan in an e-mail received by the Independent last week.

Some face-to-face visits are already in the works to try to help seal the deal, as a group of MDOC representatives are heading west this week.

“They (Michigan prison delegation) are heading out [Tuesday, July 7] and will return Thursday,” Marlan added in an e-mail to the Independent on July 6. “The delegation includes our Deputy Director over correctional facilities, our Chief Financial Officer, our Physical Plant Manager and someone from our health care section.

“They (California Corrections representatives) will be sending a delegation here to look at Standish and Muskegon in two weeks.”

Brown says while Michigan has had a declining prison population, mostly due to the controversial Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative, that’s not the case out west.

“It’s been widely publicized that they (California) have severe overcrowding,” Brown said.

An article on the Sacramento Bee’s Web site, sacbee.com specifies how California would save by housing inmates in Michigan, as the cost per inmate per year in California is about $46,000 per year and the cost is roughly $30,000 per year per inmate in Michigan.

The savings could be beneficial to California’s goal to balance its budget for fiscal year 2010, since during a press conference that was simultaneously web cast on Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Web site on Wednesday, the Governor said he was serious about fixing the state’s $26.3 billion deficit, threatening to veto any legislation on his desk that doesn’t work towards amending the budget crisis. During the press conference, Schwarzenegger was clear that he didn’t want the budget crisis addressed “piecemeal.”

“Let’s address the entire problem at one time,” he said.

Michigan would be the fifth state to house outsourced prisoners from California if Schwarzenegger accepts Granholm’s proposal, joining Tennessee, Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma, where 7,600 California prisoners are being housed.

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