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Former youth prison to reopen as prison for convicted non-U.S. citizens

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. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently blocked the sale of a state-owned prison in Ionia to a different private prison company, which planned to house undocumented immigrant detainees.

Whitmer says she nixed the deal because the company could not assure her the facility would not house people who had been separated from their children at the border.

A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections says the department does not contract with private prison companies, adding that director Heidi Washington opposes private prisons because it's her belief that incarceration is a core function of government. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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