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.
Democrats and a handful of Republicans voted against House Bill 4467. They say it would create a security risk and that it’s immoral to allow a company to profit from shipping in out-of-state prisoners.
“It’s a sad state of our economy when the Legislature is looking to treat prisoners like a commodity and import people - yes, even when incarcerated they’re still people – to create jobs and make money,” said state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren.
But supporters reject the idea that the move would create a security risk.
“There are safeguards in here. This is not just open the gates, let them all come in,” said state Sen. Geoff Hansen, R-Hart.
And they say it will create jobs in a high-poverty area of the state.
“Now the good sheriff – the good Democrat sheriff of this county – says we need these jobs. 300 jobs in a county that is struggling terribly in poverty,” said state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.