State likely to close another prison under 2018-19 budget
The state’s budget for the department of corrections will likely include another prison closure.This would be the third closure in Michigan in three years.
The house and senate budget committees met Tuesday to sign off on recommendations for the 2018-2019 budget.
The recommendations included closing a prison and increasing funding for the prison food system, which will again be state run.
Chris Gautz, with the Michigan Department of Corrections, said the department will decide which prison to close sometime after October 1st.
“This is truly because our prison population has been declining for a number of years. Within the last 3 years our prison population has declined by more than 10 percent.”
Gautz said the decline in inmates has been driven by reductions in crime, recidivism, and the release of more prisoners.
Small communities have been hard hit by prison closures. In Standish officials reported increases in water rates after the closure of the Standish correctional facility in 2009.
Gautz said the department has done a good job of supporting prison employees.
“Of the two prisons that we closed in the last two-two and a half years or so those two facilities employed between 5 and 600 people. When all was said and done only about 50 people ended up losing their job.”
Gautz said the state also works to ensure that communities are supported in the wake of a closure. In January, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation gave Standish 1.7 million dollars in aid to help the city reduce water rates.
The full house and senate, and the Governor, will still need to approve the final budget.