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Michigan: Send Us Your Prisoners

The Michigan Messenger reports that Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.) is looking to stimulate the local economy by importing prisoners from out-of-state.

California and Michigan prison officials continue to negotiate a move of California prisoners to two of Michigan’s soon to be closed prisons. Michigan officials have been in California this week as part of the negotiations which started with a letter from Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. That letter indicated Michigan would be happy to play host to overflow prisoners from California. [...]

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said the state is interested in keeping the 550 prison guards and officials slated for lay off with the closure of the two prisons on the job. But, that hope is not keeping the Standish facility occupied. Officials say the move of prisoners from the prison will continue in preparation for a closing at the end of July.

Michigan’s prison population peaked in 2006 with 51,454 prisoners, and this year it is at 48,000. Granholm wants to reduce that number by 3,000 to 45,000 by Oct. 1 with early releases in order to save money in the state budget which is facing a projected $1.7 billion budget hole. By reaching the 45,000 prisoner mark, the MDOC will be housing the lowest number of prisoners since 1999.

Michigan pays $30,000 per year to house a prisoner, while California pays $46,000 a year to house its prisoners.

In May, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) suggested that a new, maximum security prison in the state’s remote Upper Peninsula could bring in some much-needed federal dollars by housing Guantanamo Bay detainees after that facility’s scheduled closure in January 2010.

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