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Corrections Budget Battle Heats Up In Lansing

Wikipedia Media Commons

Some state lawmakers and the Michigan Department of Correctionsare battling it out over how much the state should spend on its prisons.  

Republican SenatorJohnProossubcommittee on corrections passed a budget that cuts the Department of Correction’s budget by about $40 million.  Proos said because the prison population is down, continuing to spend about the same amount each year means they are spending too much per prisoner. 

“That decrease prison population has decreased to such an extent that we have to recalibrate the way that we use our taxpayer dollars by virtue of paying for the beds that we need, not the beds that are open,” he said.

But the Michigan Department of Corrections says it’s not that simple.

MDOC Director Heidi Washington said, “We need to be able to continue to run programs and invest in the things that are making a positive impact on our population.”

According to Washington, the Senate’s proposed budget would not only cost people their jobs, it would cut necessary programs and support unnecessary ones.

“We’re on the right track and I’d like the ability to continue to move this department forward through the creation and implementation of programs that work,” she said.

Washington said the Department only asked for two things: enough money to hire and train more corrections officers and continue an alternative to prison program.  She said both are in jeopardy under the proposed Senate budget.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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