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Michigan prisons

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s declining state prison inmate population is prompting state corrections officials to shut down a re-entry facility in Detroit.

The Detroit Reentry Center opened in the former Ryan Correctional Facility after it closed in 2012.

The center provided housing and programs for parolees and prisoners needing dialysis treatment.  But recently, the center has been handling only about a fifth of its peak number of offenders.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The union representing corrections officers in Michigan is holding pickets outside some of the state’s prisons. The union says the prisons are understaffed, creating a dangerous situation.

The President of the Michigan Corrections Organization, Byron Osborn, and several officers were in front of the Detroit Detention Center on Wednesday. Osborn says there are about 750 unfilled positions at Michigan prisons right now and each year the department only hires about as many staff as the number who quit.

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Today on Stateside, a new report shows Blacks citizens are far more likely to face felony charges in Washtenaw County, one of the state’s most populous and progressive counties. Plus, we talk to the architect of a memorial on Belle Isle to honor the 1,500 people in Detroit who have been killed by COVID-19.

prison exterior
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

In April and May, Michigan prisons saw a wave of COVID-19 infections among inmates. Things simmered down in midsummer, but have spiked again recently with a large outbreak at the Muskegon Correctional Facility.

Throughout the pandemic, prisoners have raised concerns about how the Michigan Department of Corrections is responding to COVID-19 in the state's prisons. 

Joey Horan is a reporter with Outlier Media. In an investigation for Bridge Magazine, he found that once the virus enters a facility, prison officials rely heavily on punitive measures to control its spread.

Flickr/creative commons / Jeff Clark, BLM

Updated:  6/18/2020

Sixty eight people have died of COVID-19 so far in Michigan prisons, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

It's the second highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in a state prison system in the country, according to the non-profit Marshall Project, which is tracking the cases. Ohio is number one for COVID-19 related inmate deaths.

someone writing on a ballot
Michael Dorausch / Flickr, http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, a researcher at University of Michigan has looked at data surrounding fatalities caused by police, and how those lethal uses of force break along racial and gender lines. And, a conversation with a brother and sister confronting a global pandemic on opposite sides of a prison wall. Plus, a talk with Senator Gary Peters about a bill introduced by House Democrats to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing.

(Subscribe to Stateside on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or with this RSS link)

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Corrections is nearing its goal of testing all prisoners in state facilities. By the end of next week it should be finished. The National Guard has been assisting the prison system with testing prisoners.

At the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian there are 1,965 prisoners. A total of 716 have tested positive.

Person in orange jumpsuit sitting behind prison bars
Lightfield Studios / Adobe Stock

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a growing toll on the lives of state prison inmates. 

As of May 10, 50 inmates have died after contracting the virus. 

The Michigan Department of Corrections is trying to release as many people as possible in response. But a state law called Truth in Sentencing means only some will benefit from that effort.  

A chain link fence open to show two people walking away
John McGuire

Today on Stateside, Michigan's counties are playing a critical role in the public health response to COVID-19, but the costs of the outbreak are straining already tight county budgets. Plus, we’ll hear from a man serving time at a state correctional facility in Coldwater about what it’s like to watch the outbreak unfold from inside the prison's walls.

Exterior of fence and prison grounds
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Corrections is testing every inmate for COVID-19 at its Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson.

That's after tests of all the inmates at another prison, Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, found that 80% of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 showed no symptoms at the time that they were tested (it's not clear how many of those were asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic).

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of inmates at one of Michigan’s prisons have tested positive for COVID-19. The number is expected to rise.

The Michigan Department of Corrections confirms more than 600 prisoners have tested positive at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater. In an email, spokesman Chris Gautz indicated not all results are in and the number will grow.

Lakeland Correctional Facility sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A second inmate in a Michigan prison has died of COVID-19

This death is an urgent concern, say advocates.  That's because it happened in a prison that houses many elderly inmates with chronic health conditions.  

The Michigan Department of Corrections says the inmate at Lakeland Correctional in Coldwater was taken to the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, where he died on April 7. 

people holding signs
Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Inmates inside the North Lake Correctional Facility — an immigrant prison in Baldwin — allege conditions are so unsafe that some have been put in prolonged solitary confinement.

They further allege prison guards are segregating the facility by race, and the amount of food that they’ve been getting recently hasn’t been enough, specifically citing a lack of protein.

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

Updated 2:28 on 4/7/20 to reflect increase in cases 

COVID-19 cases continue to increase rapidly in some Michigan prisons.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 10 prisons now have at least one confirmed COVID-19 case, and at the two most affected prisons, Parnall Correctional Facility and Macomb Correctional Facility, the number of cases is spiking, with a high percentage of positive test results out of those tested.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, we talk to Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell about the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Southeast Michigan, and how the outbreak is shifting the tone of partisan politics in Washington. We'll also hear about what impact ending the school year early could have on the state's most vulnerable students. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Corrections and Catholic Charities are working to find a way to restore ‘substance abuse training’ for inmates. Without the training, many inmates who would be eligible for parole will remain in prison.

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

The rate of recidivism in Michigan has been going down gradually over the last ten years, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Exterior of fence and prison grounds
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) has introduced a bill that would require the Michigan Department of Corrections to provide a one-year advance notice of the closure of any prison in the state, as well as require the department to conduct community impact studies.

McBroom's district saw the closure of the Ojibway Correctional Facility last year. The facility was the region's largest employer.

"All the taxpayers of Michigan are owed an explanation on the proposed closure," McBroom told Gongwer News Service, adding the Marenisco Township community where the facility was located was "still in the process of being numb" over the impact of the closure.

teal background and hands holding up a red old fashioned alarm clock
Malvestida Magazine / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, as the federal investigation into the UAW continues, the union's new acting president vows to weed out corruption. Plus, a look at how two inmates in a state prison find meaning in their lives behind the prison walls. 

man screaming at phone
Unsplash

 


Today on Stateside, we hear from two men who say they were sexually assaulted after being placed in adult prisons as teenagers. A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of hundreds of other men with similar claims  is finally going to court after years of state opposition. Plus, if you're sick of robocalls (we sure are), we've got some bad news: They aren't stopping anytime soon. 

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.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University researchers say they've found a cost-effective way to help prison inmates with depression.

Roughly a quarter of prison inmates released each year suffer from depression.  Often, the problem pre-dates their incarceration.

Inmates often go without adequate treatment while in prison. Many re-enter society with worse mental health problems than before they entered prison.

prison cell
Pixabay

Incarcerated Americans are on strike.

A national protest by prisoners started August 21. It will run until September 9, the anniversary of the deadly uprising in 1971 at Attica Prison in upstate New York. 

Paula Reeves
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

Last week, a 17-year old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School. He left 10 dead and 10 more injured.

With every mass shooting in the United States comes a cry to address the issue of mental health. Lawmakers say we need to identify these troubled kids — and get them mental health resources before something terrible happens.

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. 

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

Michigan’s prisons are in crisis. The state cannot find enough corrections officers to staff them. Older officers are retiring, others are quitting, and there are hundreds of officer positions waiting to be filled.

For corrections officerss like Lorraine Emery, that shortage means an exhausting, dangerous job is getting even tougher.

Emery has been a corrections officer for about 17 years. She’s currently at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, in Ionia. When she gets home from her eight-hour shift, the first thing she does is change her clothes.

Women who don’t belong in jail

May 9, 2018
Jack Amick / Creative Commons

You’ve probably never heard of Melissa Chapman, who has spent the majority of her life in Michigan prisons. When she was 18, her violent and abusive boyfriend shot a man and forced her to help hide the body. She was sentenced to life in prison for that. She’s been there thirty years.

Prison fence barbed wire
Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Inmates at a mid-Michigan prison are on lockdown after gang related fighting.

Multiple fights broke out over the course of several days. They started Thursday, and occurred multiple times on Sunday during meals and finally on the prison yard on Monday. The facility has been on lockdown since Monday at lunchtime. Lockdown means inmates don’t have any privileges and are confined to their cells.

money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder presented his final budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year to the House and Senate this week. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle found things they did and didn't like about the governor's spending plan, which includes increased spending for roads and education.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what else stood out in Snyder's budget.


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