91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Muskegon Heights prison scheduled to close in March

Prison fence barbed wire
Kevin Rosseel
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced that a prison in Muskegon Heights will close in March.

Nearly 175 people work at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility. The Michigan Department of Corrections says it plans to do what it can to ensure that all employees have a job when the prison closes.

The main reason for the closure is because the state’s prison population is down, according to The Michigan Department of Corrections.

Chris Gautz, a spokesperson for MDOC said the closure shows the state’s correctional system is working.

“We’re sending more prisoners back home and fewer of them are coming back to us. So, that’s a good thing. That means less crime, it means lower recidivism,” Gautz said.

Gautz said the closure is good for the state – but not necessarily the workers.

“Unfortunately it does mean when we do really well at our jobs, it means that prisons do close. But in the end that’s a good thing. It’s going to end up saving the state about $19 million in the next fiscal year,” he said.

Gautz says the state will save about $10 million in the current fiscal year.

Gautz says the department believes it will be able to place almost all of the staff at other facilities, saying there are job openings at two other facilities in Muskegon. There are also opportunities in Ionia – which is about an hour away.

Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce, also sees opportunity for the workers at West Shoreline.

“It’s always sad when somebody loses their job, but there are about 1,500 job openings along the coast so it’s really an opportunity for these workers,” Larsen said.

Tom Tylutki, President of the Michigan Corrections Organization, says that right now the workers at West Shoreline are going to be deeply affected by the closure.

“We know it is a difficult process, but like MCO has done in the past, we will work to ensure the West Shoreline closure goes as smoothly as it possibly can. All these details that impact officers’ lives must be sorted out, according to MDOC and MCO protocol, in the coming weeks,” Tylutki said.

Tylutki says the MCO will keep members updated “every step of the way” regarding the facility’s closing.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
Related Content