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State turns down idea of prison privatization

LANSING, MI (WTVB) - It’s hard to say yet what it could mean for the future of prisons like Coldwater’s Lakeland Correctional facility but the Michigan Department of Management and Budget on Thursday declined to put prisoners in a privately run correctional facility after bids came in at nearly $6 million over the state's current cost. The state's costs in providing services to the 968-inmate, Level 4 male prisoners in question were $12.9 million in the first year. The lowest bidder's proposal using the state facility in Standish was $20.9 million in the first year, and the lowest bid using a private facility was $18.6 million. 

House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman of Holland told the MIRS News Agency this is positive news for taxpayers with an indication that the Department of Corrections has worked to make numerous cost cutting changes during the past year and a half to bring down the costs of incarceration. Haveman said DOC trimmed their budget as they asked. According to Haveman, the goal was never to privatize, the goal was to save money.

Progress Michigan praised the decision. Executive Director Lonnie Scott said the fact that privatization is not cost-effective comes as no surprise given the poor track record Michigan has with slashing state services and selling them off to private corporations. Meanwhile, Mel Greishaber, President of the Michigan Corrections Officers, told MIRS this was a win for taxpayers, who added, "When it comes to the whole debate on private contracts, the state finally got it right."

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