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Some women in state prison housed in TV rooms, offices

Kate Ter Haar

Some inmates at Michigan's only women's prison are being housed in converted television rooms and offices. But Michigan Department of Corrections officials say they do not have an overcrowding problem. 

According to MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz, the population of Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility has increased by about 16 percent – from 1,900 in 2011 to 2,200 now.

"We have enough size and capacity here at the facility to house the population that currently resides with us," said Gautz.

Gautz said the prison plans to re-purpose another building soon to house about 100 prisoners. He said this will allow some of the previously converted areas to go back to their original uses.

The American Friends Service Committee has received prisoner complaints about overcrowding at the facility, according to Natalie Holbrook,  director of the AFSC's Michigan Criminal Justice Program.

'They're  living in close quarters," said Holbrook. "It's more of a stressful environment."

Holbrook said Michigan needs more alternatives to incarceration at the sentencing end.

Gautz said the Department of Corrections wants to focus more of its resources on keeping people who are on probation out of prison as a way to reduce the numbers of female inmates.