Three Michigan prisons and five prison camps will close this year under a plan announced by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and slammed by lawmakers who say the plan puts the public at risk, the Detroit News reports. The closures, intended to save $120 million to help erase a $1.7 billion budget deficit, mean 4,000 prisoners who have served at least their minimum sentence will be freed and 1,000 employees laid off. The fallout will extend beyond the prison walls as the communities nearby feel the impact of the lost jobs.
Said Sen. Alan Cropsey, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections, “Michigan has the highest crime rate in the Midwest. So what are we doing closing prisons? Is that going to reduce the crime rate?” he asked. “The governor made her commitment over two years ago to let 6,000 people out of prison. I thought that was nuts. But she is doing it. Public safety is at risk.” Granholm does not need legislative approval to implement the plan that would reduce the number of prison beds by 6,400 and cut 800 corrections officer jobs as part of the layoffs. The eight facilities cost $118 million to run and house about 4,600 inmates who will be moved to other facilities.