Michigan, with 15 percent unemployment and a $2.8 billion budget deficit, is seeking to capitalize on an unusual source of income: boarding out-of-state prisoners. Time reports Michigan is also bidding to house alleged terrorists who are detained by the Federal Government at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The effort could make Michigan an unlikely player in the increasingly lucrative business of transporting prisoners across borders. States with overcrowded prisons, including California and Pennsylvania, spend millions each year sending inmates to private and public prisons in Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee and elsewhere.
One of Michigan’s key selling points is that the capacity at two prison facilities that are scheduled to close by the end of the year could be significantly increased by double-stacking beds. Michigan would charge some $30,000 a year for each domestic inmate brought to its maximum-security prison at Standish. California has thus far balked, partly because of the cost, but Michigan officials say they are still negotiating with Pennsylvania and other states. The overtures come as Michigan shrinks its own inmate population: since 2006, it has dropped from 51,700 to about 46,000.