"The deal is expected to net Michigan an average daily “profit” of $2.15 for each inmate...."
Muskegon Correctional Facility ready to begin accepting Pennsylvania inmates
By John S. Hausman | Muskegon Chronicle
February 06, 2010
MUSKEGON — As recently as eight months ago, Muskegon Correctional Facility held more than 1,300 inmates.
Today, the count is zero.
The last Michigan inmates were bused out last week to other prisons in the state, making room for the arrival of 1,000 inmates from Pennsylvania.
Without the Pennsylvania deal, the 36-year-old facility would have closed in January, with the loss of up to 175 jobs.
As it is, all employees remain at work — even during the vacant interim, according to state Corrections Department spokesman John Cordell. Workers are making the prison “site ready” to meet Pennsylvania specifications, he said.
Cordell said the first Pennsylvania prisoners would arrive “in the next couple weeks” but declined to be more specific, citing security concerns. He said they would likely arrive at a rate of one busload or about 50 inmates per day, taking a month or so to reach the full complement.
“Pennsylvania and Michigan have worked very well together in this transition, and we look forward to supporting them as they transition into something new to their department, which is housing prisoners off site,” Cordell said.
For several years about a decade ago, Michigan exported some of its state prisoners to Virginia facilities to deal with overcrowding.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced Dec. 21 it would send 1,000 inmates to the Muskegon prison by February.
The inmates being selected for transfers are those who have less than three years to serve on their sentences, have no medical or mental health issues and have few or no visitors, according to Pennsylvania’s corrections department.
That’s enough to keep the prison open and save the 175 jobs that would have been eliminated by now. The 1,328-bed, medium-security prison was set to close in January as Michigan reduces its statewide prison population through earlier paroles and fewer prison returns for parole violators.
The deal isn’t for a set duration, but it’s expected to keep MCF operating at least through the end of 2013 and possibly longer.
Under the deal, Pennsylvania pays Michigan $62 per inmate per day to house its inmates, with the Michigan Department of Corrections running and staffing the prison. The deal is expected to net Michigan an average daily “profit” of $2.15 for each inmate at current operating costs because it costs the state only $59.85 per inmate per day to house an inmate.
The Michigan corrections department had said the prison’s closing would eliminate up to two-thirds of the 264 jobs at MCF, both corrections officers and other staff. Some of the expected layoffs would have been at Muskegon’s other two prisons — Earnest C. Brooks and West Shoreline — because MCF corrections officers have seniority-based “bumping” rights into those prisons.