New MI corrections chief weighs in on reform proposals

Jul 17, 2015

Prison reform is one of Michigan’s hottest ongoing topics. As the discussion continues, an East Lansing resident takes the helm of the Department of Corrections. Current State speaks with Heidi Washington.

Heidi Washington is the new director of the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Credit Courtesy Michigan Department of Corrections

Amid a vigorous discussion over prison reform in Michigan, Heidi Washington recently became the state's top corrections official. Washington has worked for the state Department of Corrections for 17 years, most recently as ​warden at Jackson’s Egeler Reception and Guidance Center.

Calls for prison reform in Michigan have been common recently. Running the state’s corrections system, which currently includes about 43,000 prisoners, is expensive, costing about $2-billion annually. Suggestions have focused on reducing both of those numbers through sentencing and parole reforms, while skeptics caution that the wrong moves could jeopardize public safety.

Another newsworthy development came when the state recently announced the end of its relationship with prison food provider Aramark, after a troubled tenure.

Current State talks with Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington about the reform discussion and other issues.