Source: Elizabeth Hewitt, vtdigger.com, August 2, 2015
One month after Vermont inmates arrived at a privately run prison facility in northern Michigan, an inmate is voicing concerns about the conditions there. … The state recently terminated a contract with the Corrections Corporation of America, and began using a new for-profit prison company, the GEO Group Inc., based in Michigan. Last month, 280 Vermont prisoners were transferred by air from two facilities in Kentucky and Arizona to a single correctional facility in Baldwin, Michigan. … Bryer writes that there was no process for sick calls when inmates first arrived, and that medical services are not available at all on weekends and holidays. There are no windows in the building, and inmates get one hour of outdoor recreation a day, Bryer says. Some items in the commissary cost double what they did at the CCA facility in Kentucky, according to Bryer, and he says there are no curtains for the showers….
Editorial: Profiting from prisons
Source: Toledo Blade, June 11, 2015
Nobody doubts that Michigan needs more jobs. But setting up a privatized penal colony for some of the nation’s most dangerous inmates is not the way to treat them. In a fit of bad judgment, Michigan lawmakers narrowly passed a bill last month that would allow GEO, a multinational private correctional services provider, to bring some of the most dangerous offenders from Vermont and Washington state and house them in the former “punk prison” in Baldwin. The prison is in northern Michigan’s rural Lake County, one of the state’s poorest. … Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reportedly has not yet decided whether to sign this bill. He should instead strike a blow for common sense and decency and veto it, without further delay.
Second private sector prison company, with a bad track record, vying for a piece of Michigan
Source: Tim Skubick, MLive.com, May 20, 2015
…. Enter the GEO Group, a private prison company which operates some 85,000 beds around the country and it wants to add Michigan to its roster. A bill would hire the Florida firm to reopen the moth-balled so-called Punk Prison in Baldwin. …. What appeared to be a fast track effort has been slowed down to a crawl in the Senate, where some have raised concerns about the possible “warehousing” of inmates and whether they are given rehab services. That from Sen. Patrick Colebeck, R-Plymouth. GEO is no stranger to Michigan as it ran the original punk prison and various state agencies concluded it was more expensive than many of the other facilities and by closing it, the state would save over $7 million. The company complained the auditor general’s report was “skewed.” It was finally shuttered but GEO is back for another bite of the prison apple which some folks feel is poisoned. ….
Vermont DOC Moving Out-of-State Inmates to Michigan
Source: Steph Machado, My Champlain Valley, May 19, 2015
Vermont will be moving 318 prisoners from Kentucky and Arizona to Michigan. The Department of Corrections announced a new contract with the company GEO, which owns the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan. The inmates are currently in facilities owned by CCA, whose contract with Vermont is expiring. …. The state will be paying GEO less than it paid CCA–about $600,000 less annually, at the current out-of-state population of 318. ….
Bill to open private prison clears state House
Source: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, May 7, 2015
GEO Group officials say allowing the company to house prisoners from other states with the highest security levels would give them the flexibility they need to make the prison economically viable. …. A bill that’s expected to allow Michigan’s former “punk prison” to open as a privately run adult facility housing prisoners from other states passed the state House in a narrow vote Thursday. House Bill 4467 was approved 57-53, and now moves on to the Senate. The bill removes a restriction that prevents the Florida-based GEO Group, which wants to reopen and operate the former private youth prison near Baldwin, from accepting prisoners with the highest security levels — those above Level 4. …. As proposed, the bill would also allow GEO to take inmates from Michigan prisons, but the company says that’s not part of its plans. A Michigan Department of Corrections official said that the state has no interest in sending Michigan inmates to the private prison. ….
Michigan House votes to let private prison house high-security inmates from other states
Source: Jonathan Oosting, Mlive.com, May 7, 2015
The Michigan House on Thursday narrowly approved legislation aimed to help one of the country’s largest private prison companies bring out-of-state inmates to its shuttered facility in Baldwin. House Bill 4467, approved in a 57-53 vote, would allow The GEO Group Inc. to house Level V high-security inmates at the now-empty North Lake Correctional Facility…. State Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, spoke out against the bill, calling it “a form of backdoor privatization of state prisons” because it would also allow the state to house Level V inmates there, if it chooses to at a later date. Singh also said that GEO Group has “a spotty track record across the country, but also here in the state of Michigan.” He pointed to a 2005 Michigan audit, fines for understaffing in New Mexico, a prisoner escape in Arizona, and a scathing Justice Department report about a Mississippi youth prison that GEO Group took over in late 2010. ….
Bill would allow private prison near Baldwin to re-open
Source: Paul Egan, Lansing State Journal, April 23, 2015
The former “punk prison” near Baldwin would re-open as a private prison housing adult inmates from other states, bringing about 150 jobs to one of the most economically depressed areas of the state, under a bill taken up Thursday by a House committee. As proposed, the bill would also allow the prison, operated by the Florida-baed GEO Group, to take inmates from Michigan prisons, but the company says that’s not part of its plans and a Michigan Department of Corrections official said the state has no interest in sending Michigan inmates to the private prison, which has been closed for about four years. House Bill 4467 would remove a restriction that prevents GEO from accepting prisoners with the highest security levels — those above Level 4. GEO officials say allowing the company to also bring Level 5 and Level 6 prisoners from other states would give them the flexibility they need to make the prison economically viable…. The prison near Baldwin opened as a private youth prison in 1998 under former Gov. John Engler, a Republican. Ot closed in 2005, under former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, amid reports it was too costly to run and neglected the health and educational needs of its young inmates. Later, under the GEO Group, it briefly housed inmates from California, with the restrictions in place on the security levels of the inmates, but closed in 2011….
Federal Beds To Keep More Vermont Prisoners In Kentucky
Source: Laura Krantz, VT Digger, January 19, 2015
A deal in the works to house more federal inmates in Vermont prisons will hamper the state’s effort to reduce the number of local prisoners incarcerated in Kentucky and Arizona, the corrections commissioner said Monday. Vermont contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to house up to 40 federal prisoners in Vermont prisons. The feds pay the state $129 per prisoner per day. … The deal will be good for the state’s pocketbook, but bad for the DOC’s goal of reducing the number of prisoners it houses with private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of America.
Advocates renew push to keep inmates in VT
Source: Terri Hallenbeck, Free Press Staff, August 17, 2014
…. A group of advocates is making a push to halt the long trips, the separation of inmates from family and the use of a for-profit company to house prisoners. About 25 people gathered in Burlington on a recent evening to strategize how to keep Vermont from renewing the out-of-state prison contract with Corrections Corporation of America when it comes due next year. … The group plans to launch a drive Sept. 22 titled “Locked Up & Shipped Away” and hopes to collect petitions from the Vermonters urging public officials to stop sending Vermont inmates out of state, Wizowaty said. Group members also plan to organize efforts to ask political candidates for their support at candidate forums through the fall. The group plans to hold organizational meetings in the coming weeks in Burlington, Montpelier and Brattleboro. … Wizowaty wants to halt or shorten the state’s next contract for out-of-state prison beds. Time and simple short-term math are working against her, but the state is looking for new options with a new contract. … Richard Byrne, the state Corrections Department’s out-of-state unit supervisor, said he is in the process of sending notices to states, counties and private prison operators that might have space. The state likely will put out a formal request for proposals in September to replace the existing four-year CCA contract, which expires June 30. … As of last week, because the state’s own prison were full, Vermont had 482 inmates serving time in two out-of-state prisons run by Corrections Corporation of America: 444 in Beattyville, Ky., and 38 in Florence, Ariz.