Michigan plans to close Upper Peninsula prison

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MARENISCO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Corrections plans to close the Ojibway Correctional Facility in the western Upper Peninsula.

The Detroit Free Press and WLUC-TV report the agency’s director made the announcement Tuesday to meet a cut of more than $19 million in the prison budget.

Lawmakers had instructed the department to close an unspecified prison.

Ojibway is located in Gogebic County and originally opened as a prison camp in 1971. MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz says the department has been closing units there recently and it’s now down to about 800 prisoners.

Gautz says the prison employs 203 people, including 116 corrections officers, and he said about 20 of the employees are Wisconsin residents.

The president of the Michigan Corrections Organization, which represents thousands of corrections and forensics officers, issued the following statement in light of the closure:

“A prison closure is a time of uncertainty and stress for staff because their employment, work location, living arrangements, childcare, and other critical aspects of day-to-day life are made uncertain.

This is true in any closure, but this closure will be especially disruptive due to Ojibway’s rural location. The nearest Michigan prison is about 100 miles away. The MCO leaders understand the stress this will inevitably cause OCF staff and their families and the impact it will have on their small, tight-knit community and the surrounding areas.

MCO leaders will be working with the MDOC to mitigate the impact of this closure as much as we possibly can.

MCO was outspoken earlier this year when Sen. John Proos, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Corrections, called for yet another prison closure. Real corrections reform and long-term cost savings must be achieved through innovation and partnership with all stakeholders, not just closures and cuts.”

The MDOC says there are no immediate plans for possible reuse of the facility.

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