Michigan corrections department laying off workers, privatizing medical services
The Michigan Dept. of Corrections has announced plans to close the Mound Correctional Facility in Detroit, lay off 2,000 workers, and privatize medical services throughout the prison system.
MDOC director Dan Heyns acknowledged that the moves are drastic measures that will impact employees, prisoners families, and communities, but he told the Detroit News “closing a prison … ought to be a cause for celebration.”
Mel Grieshaber, executive director of the 7,500-member Michigan Corrections Organization, said the plan “stinks” and the projected savings don’t make sense.
The prisons budget of nearly $2 billion has been a major target of state lawmakers looking for cuts because it nearly all comes from state revenue, rather than federal subsidies.
Heyns said the plan was developed as a contingency during talks with unions to find $145 million in employee cost savings. But he decided it makes sense to implement it regardless of the outcome of negotiations, he said.
Health care in Michigan prisons is already partially privatized and the unions that represent state workers have suggested that the state should reconsider its contract with Prison Health Services:
Tennessee-based Prison Health Services (PHS) provides healthcare services in Michigan prisons at a cost of roughly $100 million every year. Reconsideration is especially timely because PHS is being acquired by the Missouri-based Correctional Medical Services, the other giant in the field, leading to a near-monopoly on the service. The absence of meaningful
competition is itself a reason to doubt the effectiveness of outside contracting.