Bill Would Re-open Private, “Punk Prison”, Allow for Housing of Higher Security-Level Prisoners
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Child Welfare Crossover
- Mental Health
- Juvenile Defense
- Juvenile Competency
- In-Home Care Incentive
- PREA, Isolation, Restraint
- Youth in Adult System
- Juvenile Life Without Parole
- Youth Reentry
A proposed bill that is currently working its way through the Michigan legislature would indirectly re-open the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, and allow the privately-owned prison to contract with other states to house their inmates.
In addition to permitting the GEO Group (the for-profit corporation that operates the Baldwin prison) to house inmates from other states, HB 4467 would also allow Michigan prisoners to be housed in the facility, and removes restrictions that prevent GEO from housing prisoners with the highest security levels (determined by MDOC standards)- levels 5 and 6. Currently, state law prohibits GEO from using the facility to house inmates with security levels higher than 4.
By re-opening the Baldwin facility, Michigan will be opening the door to more privatization of the state’s prison-system, which was determined to be a mistake a decade ago. In 2005, Michigan closed the Baldwin facility (which housed youthful inmates convicted as adults at the time) after a series of audits and investigations found high levels of assaults on inmates (both by facility staff and other prisoners), and also that the expected savings to the state budget from using the private prison never materialized. Operating costs for the Punk Prison were higher than a majority of the other state-ran facilities.
While the facility briefly re-opened to house inmates from California in 2011, the state ended its contract with the Geo Group two years later. Other states, such as Mississippi, have ended contracts to house their prisoners at GEO-operated facilities after determining that the private prisons were too expensive, with high staff turnover ratios, and poor staff training, which led to rampant abuse, and dangerous environments.
By allowing GEO to house security level 5 and 6 prisoners at the Baldwin facility, Michigan would be granting a private firm with a track record of operating unsafe prisons the permission to mix highly dangerous inmates that typically are more assualtive towards staff and other prisoners (and require more supervision,) with lower security level inmates. This is a policy that is not practiced in any of the other state-ran prisons, yet would be allowable in the Baldwin facility without any oversight by the Michigan Department of Corrections.
HB 4467 would lead Michigan in the wrong direction- where the use of private prisons jeopardizes public safety, the safety of the inmates and corrections staff, and reduces the likelihood of prisoner rehabilitation.
Michigan House votes to let private prison house high-security inmates from other states – MLive
Second private sector prison company, with a bad track record, vying for a piece of Michigan – MLive
What is GEO Group? – NPR