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New Bill Would Ban Private Prisons In Michigan

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Todd Ehlers
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Flickr - creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

A state lawmaker wants to make sure Michigan doesn’t have any privately run prisons.

Democratic state Senator Jeff Irwin said the state should not house inmates in private facilities. He’s introduced a bill to ban the practice.

The bill would prevent the state from contracting with private organizations to house inmates in state custody.

“Prisons are a very sensitive and difficult and solemn responsibility of the state," said Irwin.  “When prisons are run for profit, we end up with more prisoners, we end up with more abuse, and it ends up costing the people more in the end."

There are currently no private prisons operating in the state.

The bill would not ban a private operator from coming into the prison for services like healthcare or youth camps.

Supporters of private prisons say they can create jobs and help the local economy.

Michigan’s privately owned North Lake Correctional Facility near Baldwin formerly housed juvenile inmates, but has been closed for years.

The privately-owned Geo Group, Inc. announced in May that it will re-open the facility. It says it received a federal contract to house non-U-S citizens for immigration offenses and other crimes at the facility.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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