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Job cuts as Michigan closes regional prison stores

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Michigan is slated to close three regional prison stores in Ionia, Jackson, and the Upper Peninsula.

That means around 30 employees who staff the stores will lose their jobs.

The stores stock items like toiletries and food, which inmates can purchase through an electronic kiosk system.

Under a new three-year contract, the state’s Missouri-based vendor the Keefe Group will package and ship those items directly to prisons.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Holly Kramer says closing the stores will help boost prison security.

“We'll reduce the movement of prisoners within these three facilities and reduce the movement of items between the facilities,” she said. “It will [also] increase the number of items available to prisoners"

Kramer said the Department of Corrections is working to minimize the transition’s impact on employees.

“Most of these employees will have the opportunity to continue working with the department in other capacities as we fill other operational vacancies,” she said.

The prison store program and its employees are both financed through a surcharge on inmate-purchased items.

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