November 22, 2014

UPDATED 9/21: Pennsylvania officially shows interest in Michigan prisons

"The possibility is a probability."

Posted

STANDISH — The prospect of the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility (SMF) housing inmates from out-of-state didn't die when California said no. The Keystone state may be the key to saving the prison and corrections employees’ jobs locally.

“Pennsylvania has a prison bed shortage right now and is looking to house some of their prisoners in other state prison systems. They sent us a letter asking if we would be interested in exploring such a possibility. They have asked that if we are interested to submit rates, capacities and services available by Oct. 2,” said Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Public Information Officer Russ Marlan. “We are interested and will respond. We are working on our response now. They (Pennsylvania) are looking for 1,000 - 1,500 beds.”

Michigan isn’t the only state Pennsylvania has shown interest in, though.

“We sent letters to a total of six different states,” said Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) Press Secretary Susan McNaughton, adding other states include Virginia, Nevada, Kansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota. “They have to get back to us by early to mid-October.”

"Even though the talks are informal, the prospect is there," added PDOC Press Secretary Sue Bensinger. "The possibility is a probability.

"We are overcrowded. ... We are in need of additional bed space," she added.

As for what type of inmates Pennsylvania is looking to outsource, McNaughton says no specific security-level has been targeted, but did share some information on what prisoners would be transferred out of state.

“They would be inmates with no serious mental or health conditions,” she said, “I’m told that they wouldn’t need any special programming.”

According to McNaughton, Pennsylvania spends approximately $33,000 per year per inmate, approximately $1,000 more than Michigan spends per inmate each year.

“We do have some inmates in our county prisons,” she added. “Those daily rates are $47 to $55 per day per inmate.”

Bensinger says that the outsourced prisoners would be housed out-of-state while the PDOC constructs new prisons.

"We are also building four new prisons over the next three years," she said. "Between now and three years down the road, we need somewhere to house prisoners."

Marlan says the MDOC continues to search for a way to keep some of Michigan's prisons that were slated to close this year in operation.

"The Governor has encouraged us to reach out to other states who have a need and may be interested in contracting for prison beds," Marlan said. "She has encouraged us to work hard at finding another state to utilize the facilities scheduled to close and make enough money to avoid laying off hundreds of employees - enough money to keep a community's mainstay employer viable so our citizens benefit."

Check back for updates.

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