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Audit says prison industry costing taxpayers money

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network


LANSING, MI – A state audit found that factories staffed by state prison inmates are losing money, and are being subsidized by taxpayers.

The state Auditor General report found that Michigan Prison Industries lost three million dollars in the fiscal year that ended in 2008. MPI is operated by the state Department of Corrections, and employs about 19 hundred inmates at its 28 factories in 14 state correctional facilities. The inmates make uniforms for prisoners and corrections officers, office furniture, and license plates. MPI's customers are government agencies and not-for-profit organizations.

The audit found that MPI needs to economize and come up with a business plan for becoming self-sustaining - which is required by law. The department agrees with the findings, and is cutting its costs by closing two factories, and reducing its administrative staff.

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