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michigan department of corrections

Michigan Department of Corrections

A man in Michigan who was sentenced to life in prison without parole nearly 50 years ago as a teenager may soon be released.

The Herald-Palladium reports that at 17 years old, Bobby Gene Griffin was handed Michigan's then-automatic life without parole sentence for the 1967 murder of Minnie Peaples. The law has since changed, saying juveniles convicted of murder won't receive mandatory life sentences.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

The state is hammering out its budget. And lawmakers are having a sharp disagreement with the governor’s office over one of Michigan’s biggest price tags – the corrections budget. Both sides agree rehabilitation and lowering recidivism is the way to go. But they can’t agree on how much money to spend this year.

At stake are programs – like the Vocational Village in Ionia – that have helped lower the state’s incarceration rate.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two sticking points in Lansing lately are prisons and infrastructure.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican State Senator John Proos says Governor Rick Snyder's proposed budget has some misguided priorities.

He says the budget allocates $100 more  per K-12 student for 2018 - and $1,480 more per prison inmate. 

Proos claims the extra prison money is essentially for overhead - covering the cost of empty beds as the inmate population shrinks.   Michigan's prison population is projected to shrink from approximately 42,333 in 2016-17 to 40,415 in 2017-2018.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A national humanitarian organization says Michigan's prison system is keeping Jewish inmates from celebrating Hanukkah because they are not allowed to use matches or lighters.

Surfside, Florida-based Aleph Institute says prisoners are unable to light menorahs over the eight-day Hanukkah observance that starts Saturday.

Rabbi Menachem Katz says Corrections officials "should have a little compassion."

Prison policy prevents inmates from possessing candles, lighters and other incendiary devices during group religious services or activities.

Prison bars
powelli / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A former Michigan prison guard is facing charges stemming from the death of an inmate at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township.

Janika Edmond committed suicide after she was left unsupervised in a shower at the prison last year.

The 25-year-old allegedly told guard Dianna Callahan that she was going to kill herself and asked to be placed in a protective restraint.

Shayan Sanyal / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Last month on Sept. 10, there was an incident at the Kinross Correctional Facility. It started with a peaceful demonstration by prisoners and ended with a fire, smashed windows, and other vandalism. 250 inmates were moved to higher security prisons.

"If the prosecutors were picking one person and saying, this is the rare one, that would be very different. But they're picking 250 people and saying, they're all rare, without exercising the discretion," Labelle said.
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

On September 10, there was an uprising at Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, it’s the most serious incident inside a Michigan prison anyone can recall since the 1981 riot at what was then called Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson.

Prison bars
powelli / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A judge is allowing a lawsuit filed in Flint federal court by some Michigan Muslim inmates to go forward.

Four inmates claim they received meals during Ramadan that weren't in accordance with the Islamic holiday, in violation of their civil rights. The meals were also under the typical number of calories for inmates.

During the month-long holiday Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to fast during the day, and eat food or drink water only after sundown.

Chris Gautz is with the Michigan Department of Corrections. He says MDOC dietitians design prison meals.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

KINCHELOE, Mich. (AP) - Michigan correctional officials say about 150 inmates have been moved from an Upper Peninsula prison to other prisons after a protest that led to damage in housing units.

  Officials said in a statement the Saturday morning protest started peacefully, with about 400 prisoners marching in the yard of Kinross Correctional Facility. The protests were intended to coincide with the 45th anniversary of an inmates' rebellion at the Attica prison in western New York that left 32 inmates and 11 workers dead.

Michigan Department of Corrections

Update 5:30 p.m.:

The Michigan Department of Corrections says Johnny Rodgers is back in custody following an arrest this afternoon.

Original post 3:35 p.m.:

The search is on for a convicted felon who was mistakenly released from a suburban Detroit jail on Wednesday evening.

Johnny Rodgers is serving a seven- to 15-year sentence for assault with intent to commit murder, armed robbery and felony firearms charges in Wayne County.

Simon Brass / Flickr

Michigan is closing one of its 32 prisons to save $22 million in the next fiscal year.

The Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County will close in September. The minimum security prison has more than 1,300 beds and 230 employees. It’s been open since 1956.

The corrections department made the announcement Tuesday, a day before a legislative committee is expected to endorse the closure in the next state budget.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder does not appear to like a state Senate plan to close two prisons and lease a private prison.  

A Senate subcommittee approved the plan last week as a way to save $15 million.  

Snyder asks,“If you’re closing prisons, why lease another?”

“I view this as part of the normal budget process…..that wasn’t part of our budget recommendation,” Snyder told reporters.

Senators are proposing closing prisons to save money as Michigan’s prison population declines.  

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Two prisons would close under a plan adopted today by a state Senate budget subcommittee.

The budget proposal does not specify which prisons would be closed. That would be up to the Department of Corrections.

The proposal also calls for the state to lease a privately owned prison in the northern Michigan town of Baldwin that’s currently used to house out-of-state inmates. The move is a response to a decline in the number of prison inmates.

Paul Wright / Flickr Creative Commons /http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Department of Corrections is setting up a 30-person unit to monitor the department's 184 private contracts for services, including food and medical treatment.

The department came under intense scrutiny last year for major problems with its food service provider.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, a state House committee will consider changes to the juvenile justice system in Michigan.

The House Criminal Justice committee is scheduled to discuss the 20-bill package starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Among other things, the package of bills would bar housing youth offenders with adult convicts and raise the age of mandatory adult sentences.   

Some women in state prison housed in TV rooms, offices

Nov 23, 2015
Kate Ter Haar / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Some inmates at Michigan's only women's prison are being housed in converted television rooms and offices. But Michigan Department of Corrections officials say they do not have an overcrowding problem. 

According to MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz, the population of Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility has increased by about 16 percent – from 1,900 in 2011 to 2,200 now.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Drones have many uses. But Michigan lawmakers want to discourage one in particular: delivering contraband to state prison inmates.

Across the country in recent months, people trying to smuggle all kinds of things into prisons have turned to drones. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers this week will discuss outside oversight for prison food facilities.

State Representative John Kivela, D-Marquette, wants local health departments to inspect prison kitchens.

The facilities have been self-inspecting for decades.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A national group representing the left and right of the political spectrum is concentrating on Michigan as ripe for criminal justice changes that include releasing parolees earlier and taming law enforcement's seizure of people's assets regardless of whether charges are filed.

  The U.S. Justice Action Network comprises groups such as the liberal American Civil Liberties Union and conservative FreedomWorks. The organization's executive director, Holly Harris, has been lobbying lawmakers and hopes legislation is enacted by year's end.

School Bus
Nicolae Gerasim / Flickr

Michigan prisoners have raised more than $53,000 to help buy children school uniforms and supplies. The program, Dress for Success, is part of the Pathways to Potential project of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Shayan Sanyal / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan appeals court has ruled in favor of the state and dismissed a major class-action lawsuit by young prisoners who said guards failed to stop sexual assaults behind bars.

The court says Michigan's civil rights law doesn't apply to lawsuits by prisoners. It also dismissed the case on other technical grounds in a decision released Wednesday.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

State lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow a private prison near Baldwin to reopen and house high-security inmates. It now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

Vermont intends to move more than 300 high-security inmates to the prison near Baldwin. Those inmates include ones with a history of violent behavior in prison and who have attempted to escape.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

A private prison near Baldwin, Michigan could re-open, adding 150 jobs to the economy, under a bill sponsored by state Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo. The prison operated from 1998 through 2005 as a private youth facility, and was open again briefly later housing inmates from California. It closed again in 2011. 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Snyder administration says an official overseeing Michigan's prison food contract with Aramark Correctional Services has left the job after five months.

Ed Buss is an ex-Florida and Indiana prison chief. He began work Sept. 2 overseeing Michigan's three-year, $145 million contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark.

Public Act 343 makes Michigan the 32nd state to provide exonorees with compensation for time served.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - A lawmaker from western Michigan is leading an effort to possibly save millions of dollars in the criminal justice system.

  Rep. Joe Haveman, a Republican from Holland, hopes to bring a pack of the bills to the House floor this week that would make changes in the parole process and create a commission to study sentences.

  Haveman wants to try to get more people out of prison if they're eligible for parole and not a risk to the public. He's been working with prosecutors, judges, sheriffs and defense lawyers on a compromise.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The company behind Michigan’s troubled prison food service is keeping its contract.  But it’s also paying a price.

Aramark’s problems have ranged from maggots in the food to food service employees having sexual relations with inmates. 

Gov. Rick Snyder today announced Aramark will pay a $200,000 fine. The governor says there will also be changes to the food service contract.     

Photo courtesy of Michigan's Attorney General office / michigan.gov

A report by the Michigan Attorney General's office has found both human and technology failures played a part in the prison escape of a convicted murderer.

Michael Elliot slipped out of the Ionia Correctional Facility last February 2 by crawling under fences during a heavy snowfall. He wore white clothes to blend into the snow. He was captured about 24 hours later in Indiana.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Sex with inmates - maggots in the food - smuggling drugs to inmates - undercooked or spoiled food.

When is enough "enough" with Aramark, the food service company hired seven months ago to feed inmates in Michigan prisons?

The privatization was supposed to save the state more than $12 million a year. But it's been a Pandora's box of troubles for state prison officials ever since Aramark took over last December.

Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau joined us today. He has reported on all the problems associated with the Aramark contract. Egan said that so far, things are not getting any better.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's been known for decades as the world's largest walled prison - the State Prison of Southern Michigan in Jackson.

Now some of the very colorful stories from that prison and from Jackson are told in the new Cell Block 7 Prison Museum. It's a joint venture of the Ella Sharp Museum and the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The museum is renting part of cell block seven, which still houses inmates.

MLive’s Leanne Smith said the museum covers the history of the prison, the inmates, wardens, and guards since 1838.

“It is an actual cell block,” Smith said. “You walk in and there is no doubt as to where you are.”

*Listen to full interview above. 

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