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Employees at the Michigan Department of Corrections face a higher chance of Major Depressive Disorder than first responders and other high stress jobs. That’s according to a new report released Monday.

The study found that about one in four MDOC employees would meet criteria for PTSD if they were screened.

DTE Energy | Tree maintenance

The Michigan Department of Corrections has partnered with DTE Energy and IBEW Local 17 to train inmates in trimming trees.

MDOC worked very closely with DTE and IBEW Local 17 to develop the curriculum for the program, located at Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson. It allows inmates to get hands-on experience. 

prison bars
Flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed bills into law that will permit some medically frail and seriously ill inmates to be paroled.

They will be cared for in hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes instead. That means Medicare and Medicaid will pay for the inmates' care, rather than state taxpayer dollars.

prison bars
Flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state of Michigan has agreed to pay $860,000 to settle a lawsuit over the death of a prisoner who killed herself.

Janika Edmond killed herself in 2015 at an Ann Arbor-area women's prison.

The lawsuit says prison staff members failed to respond properly to a threat of suicide after Edmond yelled for a suicide prevention vest.

Dianna Callahan of Flint was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter.

She was accused of saying, "somebody owes me lunch," after Edmond asked for the vest.

Prison wall
Microsoft Images

Geo Group, a private prison company that operates more than 50 prisons across the country, says it will re-open the former North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin.

The facility in the northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan closed in 2011.

Geo Group says it has signed a 10-year, $37 million contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the purpose of housing non-U.S. citizens convicted of immigration offenses and other crimes. 

Because the state doesn't own the facility, it can't block the deal. 

Cary Johnson in front of fence
Courtesy of Cary Johnson

A note of warning: there is some brief graphic language in the interview. Listener discretion is advised.

  

In the past two years, the Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson has lost four correctional officers to suicide. Earlier this month, his family and co-workers honored Michael Perdue, a long-time CO at Cotton, who died by suicide this year.

Corrections officers across the state are hoping these tragic losses will bring attention to the pressures of working in prisons.

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A former Michigan corrections officer has sued the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), alleging the agency discriminated against her based on sexual orientation and race.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus reports that Ashley Menchaca, who is Hispanic and gay, worked at the Woodland Center Facility in Whitmore Lake from January 2016 until she resigned May 2017.

Flickr user Still Burning / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Tuesday morning, the Michigan Department of Corrections announced plans to close the Ojibway Correctional Facility in December.

The DOC decided to close another prison back in June. This is the second facility to close this year due to a falling prisoner populations in the state.

There are currently fewer than 800 prisoners at Ojibway, and they'll be moved into other prisons over the course of the next few months. 

Bueno and other Luck Inc members
Courtesy of LUCK Inc.

 


Upon release from prison, ex-offenders often enter a world full of uncertainty. Where do you live? Where do you work? How do you survive? 

Mario Bueno tries to help people find these answers. He is the co-founder of Luck Inc., a non-profit headquartered in Detroit helping ex-offenders get on their feet. Bueno joined Stateside's Lester Graham to talk about how he started doing this work. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The number of criminal offenders who return to prison within three years hit a record low last year -- to 28%. The recidivism high was 46% in 1998.

Chris Gautz is a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. He says the department is doing a lot more outreach to get communities to support released offenders.

And field agents can now actually go out more in the field, thanks to new smart phones and laptops. That lets them check up on people at their places of work, so someone doesn't have to ask for a day off just to report for probation.

A "No Trespassing" sign hangs outside the Handlon Correction Facility.
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Drone technology is quickly becoming more sophisticated and affordable. While that's great for people who want a drone under the Christmas tree - it's a nightmare for prison officials. 

Criminals are using drones to try to smuggle in drugs, cell phones, and other contraband.

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.

Prison fence barbed wire
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.

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

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.  

Prison fence barbed wire
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.

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