Friday, March 16, 2012

Michigan Toying With Privatization, Again

The Michigan legislature is currently considering legislation that would allow a currently empty GEO Group facility to once again house prisoners; the bills passed the senate narrowly but not the house (yet).  Under the legislation, a private prison operator would have to demonstrate savings of at least 10% in certain aspects of operations, so I assume this means no private prisons will open in Michigan (I kid, I kid! - they won't care if it actually saves money).

In particular, the legislation would permit for the re-opening of a facility that used to house juveniles in Baldwin, MI (and which was for a time considered as a potential landing spot for those gitmo detainees that were supposed to have been transferred before Obama dropped the ball on that).  The prison closed about 8 years ago because it cost too much, but now the Michigan legislature is convinced, for some reason, that it won't cost so much.  The bill doesn't really seem to have any enforcement or accounting mechanism to ensure the state will save money (but that didn't stop the Senate from passing it) and it doesn't grant the Corrections Ombudsman permission to have any oversight of private prisons.  In fact, it expressly denounces the state's responsibility to provide oversight of private prisons.  Because if there's something an industry that's been a proven failure for 3 decades needs, it's less oversight.

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