Michigan spends about $94 per day on each prisoner. Some state lawmakers say the state is spending too much on its prison system, therefore proposing a budget plan to decrease the Department of Corrections' spending in the upcoming fiscal year.
On Tuesday, the state senate passed a bill that calls for laying off 580 non-custody staff, which are positions such as secretaries, librarians and resident supervisors. The union representing those employees say the work they do is essential.
"You're talking about cutting a lot of support people that work in our facilities actually to keep Michigan safe," said Ray Holman, legislative liaison for UAW Local 6000.
The budget also includes a recommendation to eliminate 115 parole and probation agent positions. Holman says that could put public safety on the line.
"We've had some high-profile cases. We've had people that have been on probation and parole that have committed very serious crimes including murder and the idea that we would cut probation and parole agents doesn't make sense," Holman said.
However, the Department of Corrections is more concerned about potentially cutting hundreds of jobs inside the prisons and not as much about positions that could be lost in the field.
"We're seeing a declining number of offenders that are being supervised in the communities and these are jobs that are vacant currently, so effectively they could be cut without any loss in service," said John Cordell, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections.
According to Sen. John Proos (R-St. Joseph), the budget was created with public safety in mind and eliminating what he considers non-essential positions is to make sure taxpayer dollars are better spent on other crucial areas such as schools and infrastructure.
Other recommendations to reduce costs include putting some prison services up for competitive bidding from private companies.