Category Archives: Corrections

Lawmakers: Health departments should inspect prison kitchens


Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol say it’s time for prison kitchens to be inspected by local health agencies. That’s after the most recent instance of maggots found in a corrections food service facility.

Prison kitchens are currently exempt from local health inspections. Continue reading

Bill to compensate wrongfully convicted inmates moves forward

prison 11-26-13Legislation to compensate people who are wrongly imprisoned in Michigan is moving forward at the state Capitol.

A state House committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to give wrongfully convicted inmates $60,000 for every year they were imprisoned, plus damages. Continue reading

Police, corrections take biggest cuts in budget-balancing plans

rick-snyder-mugjpg-446cf7790e6a2ea6Governor Rick Snyder’s budget-cutting order looks mostly to reductions in State Police, corrections, and health care spending as a first step toward retiring a deficit.
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Continuing incidents by Aramark employees remain an issue

prison 11-26-13Problems continue to mount for Aramark Correctional Services as it reaches the one year mark in it’s contract to handle food services at Michigan prisons.

Since Aramark took over food services at the state’s prisons, the company has dismissed an average of eleven employees a month. Continue reading

Prison reform activists see opportunity in “lame duck” for legislative overhaul

prison 11-26-13

Bills that seek to reduce prison spending in Michigan seem to have momentum going into the last weeks of the Legislature’s 2014 session. Continue reading

Snyder stands by Aramark contract, says problems are being fixed







Governor Rick Snyder is standing by the state’s contract with a private prison food vendor. That’s despite a report this week that an Aramark employee has been charged with smuggling heroin and other drugs into the state prison in Saint Louis. That’s on top of earlier instances of inappropriate contact between Aramark employees and inmates and food shortages in some prisons.

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Audit finds problems with prisoner education programs in Michigan

prison 11-26-13Michigan prison officials need to do more to make sure inmates have access to education programs. That’s according to a new report from the state Auditor General’s office.

The audit shows the Michigan Department of Corrections failed to identify prisoners who qualify for federal assistance to take classes. And it says the department didn’t assess the programs to make sure they’re effective.
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Judge orders “meaningful” parole hearings for MI juvenile lifers

prison 11-26-13A federal judge in Detroit says the state must give more than 350 inmates sentenced as juveniles to life without parole a chance at freedom. US District Court Judge John O’Meara says a US Supreme Court ruling that struck down Michigan’s juvenile lifer law and others like it applies retroactively, as well as in the future.

The order also says the state has to offer a “real and meaningful” chance at parole.

Deborah LaBelle is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the juvenile lifer law. She says the state has been too slow to comply with the ruling.

“We can all read what the US Supreme Court said: To put youth in prison for life without looking at them again is cruel and unusual punishment,” she says. “Michigan has to stop imposing that punishment.”

LaBelle says the state’s foot-dragging includes denying juvenile lifers entry into programs that prepare inmates for life outside prison. She says those programs are part of what a parole board considers, so denying an inmate a spot in a re-entry initiative is practically the same as denying parole.

“They can’t even get into rehabilitative programming because the state keeps telling them: ‘You’re going to die in prison,’” said LaBelle.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette has argued in court and the Legislature that the Supreme Court ruling should be narrowly applied to future cases and just a handful of inmates currently serving.

“In every case where a juvenile is sentenced to life in prison, a victim was already sentenced to death – forever. The victim’s family then grapples with the aftermath of post-traumatic stress, depression, unyielding grief, and visits to a grave,” says Schuette’s spokeswoman, Joy Yearout. “Attorney General Schuette opposes re-victimizing these families through unnecessary hearings not required by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Schuette could try to appeal the order.

There is also an effort underway in the Legislature to re-draft the juvenile lifer law to comply with the US Supreme Court decision.

The court did not rule out life-without-parole sentences for juveniles. The opinion says the sentence cannot be mandatory, and a judge must hold a hearing to decide whether a life-without-parole sentence is appropriate. O’Meara’s order also says the state’s process cannot allow a trial judge or anyone else to veto a parole board’s decision to grant a release.

O’Meara’s order says he could name a special magistrate to supervise the state’s compliance with his order. He set a deadline of January 31 for the state to submit a plan to the court.