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New bill would ban privately-run prisons in state

Image of a prison fence

A state lawmaker wants to ban privately-run prisons in Michigan.

State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) says the state should not house inmates in private facilities. He has introduced a bill to ban the practice.

“Prisons are a very sensitive and difficult and solemn responsibility of the state,” says Irwin. “I think that policing for profit and the idea that our prisons should be a profit center for private industry is wrong. I think it creates all sorts of insidious incentives.”

The bill would not ban a private operator from coming into the prison for services like health care or youth camps.

Supporters of private prisons say they can create jobs and help the local economy.

Michigan’s privately-owned North Lake Correctional Facility near Baldwin used to house juvenile inmates, but has been closed for years. The privately-owned Geo Group, Inc. announced in May that it will re-open the facility. It says it received a federal contract to house non-U.S. citizens for immigration offenses and other crimes at the facility.

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