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New bill would ban privately-run prisons in state

Image of a prison fence
Shayan Sanyal/flickr

A state lawmaker wants to ban privately-run prisons in Michigan.

State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) says the state should not house inmates in private facilities. He has introduced a bill to ban the practice.

“Prisons are a very sensitive and difficult and solemn responsibility of the state,” says Irwin. “I think that policing for profit and the idea that our prisons should be a profit center for private industry is wrong. I think it creates all sorts of insidious incentives.”

The bill would not ban a private operator from coming into the prison for services like health care or youth camps.

Supporters of private prisons say they can create jobs and help the local economy.

Michigan’s privately-owned North Lake Correctional Facility near Baldwin used to house juvenile inmates, but has been closed for years. The privately-owned Geo Group, Inc. announced in May that it will re-open the facility. It says it received a federal contract to house non-U.S. citizens for immigration offenses and other crimes at the facility.

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
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