The state Department of Corrections is closing a state prison in southern Michigan. The move will save the state millions of dollars. The Florence Crane correctional facility in Coldwater costs about $27 million a year to operate.
The facility houses about a thousand mainly older inmates, many with serious health problems. Those inmates will be sent to other prisons around the state.
John Cordell is the state Corrections Department spokesman. He says the state will be careful when placing these inmates in other facilities.
“We don’t want to place prisoners in a situation where…they have a pressing health care need, but the health care provider is a hundred miles away, every time we have to take them back and forth. It doesn’t make any sense.”
The Coldwater prison will not be the only state prison closing this summer. The Muskegon Correctional facility is also scheduled to close in June. Cordell says the state doesn’t need the two prisons anymore.
“We expect that by June first we’ll have well over a thousand beds that are empty within the system. So we can identify this prison. Close it. Place those prisoners within the beds in the system and we’ll still have some cushion.”
Michigan’s prison inmate population has declined from a high of 51,000 in 2007 to just under 44,000 today.
The Daily Reporter in Coldwater notes that Michigan's Corrections Department has been cutting back for some time:
In 2009, to save more than $118 million, Gov. Jennifer Granholm closed three prisons and five camps. They were the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility, along with prisons in Muskegon and Kincheloe. In addition, the state closed camps in Shingleton, Painesdale, Iron River, Grayling and White Lake. The cuts impacted more than 1,000 state employees. Although there was much talk, there were no closures last year.