Cops, citizens say prison closing plan is dangerous
- Cops, citizens say prison closing plan is dangerous
Gary Heinlein / Detroit News Lansing Bureau
JACKSON -- Law enforcement officials and area citizens today vehemently
opposed plans to shutter the 1,500-bed Southern Michigan Correctional
Facility, predicting the cost-saving maneuver will endanger public safety.
An estimated 200-250 people crowded into a Senate subcommittee hearing at
Jackson Community College, some with tragic stories of loved ones murdered
by imprisoned killers, to speak against the plan.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has ordered the prison closed by July--part of a
strategy to mothball correctional facilities and release 5,500 inmates who
officials say are old, sick or not a danger to society.
An estimated 425-465 Jackson-area workers will be out of a job when the
"Isn't it better to advocate a sales tax increase than to release inmates?"
asked Jim McDonough of Napoleon, whose sister was murdered in 2004.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Wayne Kuypers, R-Holland, said lawmakers
"want to do all we can to keep that prison open."
But state corrections officials say it's a done deal -- that they do not
need legislative approval to close institutions. Corrections spokesman Russ
Marlan said the decision is final and is part of the state's effort to
reduce corrections spending by $92 million. Michigan faces a budget deficit
of more than $1 billion this year and next.
Jackson County Sheriff Dan Heyns called the plan a "dangerous, ill-advised
and budget-driven policy that is being exercised at the expense of public
"There is an ocean of distrust between local units of government and the
state of Michigan," he said.
You can reach Gary Heinlein at (517) 371-3660 or gheinlein@....
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