September 15, 2014
Our View

Standish Max could handle Gitmo and California inmates

By ACI staff
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Posted 8/12/09

Rep. Bart Stupak told Corrections Officer Paul Piche on Friday that accepting California inmates and Guantanamo detainees both in Standish won’t happen, because if Gitmo detainees were kept there, the military would take over the facility and run the whole operation, since it would be a Department of Defense detention center.

But why does it have to be this way?

Piche said with the separate unit, and the additional land mass available, that the segregation unit could be expanded to house all Gitmo detainees, and that the other housing units could hold the California inmates (if a deal is brokered between Michigan and California).

However, Stupak didn’t seem to take this idea too seriously, since federal prisoners and state prisoners aren’t co-mingled by Congress.

But they wouldn’t co-mingle in Standish, with its maximum security and separation capabilities. Plus, greater security measures could also be added in the Guantanamo area and there is a zone down the middle that separates the two units.

But things have never been done this way, and that seems to be one of the greatest hindrances to housing both California inmates, many of whom are now housed in gymnasiums and open rooms with 200 other criminals due to overcrowding, and the suspected terrorists from Gitmo.

In the last couple of years, hasn’t government learned that there’s times when you have to stop doing everything the way it’s always been done?

The Standish Maximum Correctional Facility (SMF) is slated to close in October. If California accepts a proposal to outsource prisoners to Michigan, which the county’s leaders in attendance at the meeting with Stupak said they’d prefer, that would be fine. Corrections officers working at Standish Max now could keep their jobs and not have to leave Arenac County or surrounding areas, like if Gitmo came in and the military assumed all job positions at SMF.

If it’s only Gitmo, than there’s a huge catch-22. Sure new people would move to the area and buy up homes that have been sitting on the market, but current SMF employees would be forced out, possibly transferring to other prisons, where, as Piche put it, they’d be putting a young man or woman, possibly with a kid and a mortgage, and probably someone who thought they had a long career ahead of them, out of a job.

The economic woes would simply be transferred.

But if both inmates from Cuba and California were housed in Standish, in segregated, maximum security confines, the prison guards working in Standish now could keep their jobs, and the federal economic boost would also come.

It’s time for the government to think outside the box and stop doing everything the way it’s always been done.

Sometimes you have to make a bad situation manageable, even if it means going against the grain.

Piche says more and more people are coming around to his way of thinking. And that could be the best way to not only make the situation manageable, but beneficial.

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