Michigan will close a prison by July and free 1,500 inmates, says the Detroit Free Press. It is the first step in Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s plan to cut costs by releasing 5,500 low-risk prisoners. The plan is expected to save the state $92 million as it faces a potential deficit of more than $1 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The closure would be the first major downsizing of a prison system that has expanded since the early 1980s and swelled to 51,000 inmates. The Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson will be closed and its 1,481 inmates either released or moved to other prisons.
The 1,500 inmates released would have to have served at least their minimum sentence and would be placed on parole. Sex offenders and those convicted of violent crimes would not be eligible for release. Jackson Mayor Jerry Ludwig, who works at the prison as a food service supervisor, said, “It’s basically a little city and you’re cutting out a large segment of it.” State Sen. Alan Cropsey, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said: “I have to hope the governor knows what she’s doing. Public safety has got to be the governor’s No. 1 concern. This is huge.”