Hundreds at Hearings Say Save Jackson Prison

By: Beth Shayne Email
By: Beth Shayne Email

There were college presidents, prosecutors, former inmates, the chief of Jackson police, the sheriff, DOC employees, and relatives of crime victims.

"This man should never have been let out of prison," Cindy Mapes said of the parolee who killed her father Stanley Patla.

Hundreds attended two meetings in Jackson County on the impending closure of Southern Michigan Correctional Facility to try to get the decision reversed. They also oppose the governor's plan to let 5,000 low-level offenders be paroled statewide.

It is a done deal in the governor's view, according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Russ Marlan.

At an afternoon hearing hosted by Republican state senators, a department of corrections employee told them correctional officers can only keep the community safe if the state government keeps the prisoners in.

For Jim McDonough, it's a personal fight. His sister Susan Sullivan was killed by her husband in November 2004. He shouldn't be eligible for an early release but McDonough isn't taking any chances.

"The system is highly imperfect--and we're concerned he may slip through the cracks," McDonough says.

For Democratic Rep. Mike Simpson, it's about the 425 jobs the county could lose.

"This isn't a party issue. This is about what's right and I believe in standing up for what's right," Simpson says.

He sent a letter to the governor begging her to reconsider. His colleague, Democratic Senator Mark Schauer says if there are more prison closings, Jackson can't take the hit again.

"I'm gonna fight like hell to make sure it's not here," he told the standing room only crowd at an evening hearing his party sponsored Wednesday.

Republican Senator Randy Richardville, who represents part of Jackson County tells us the Republicans version of the budget does cut from corrections, but does not close prisons or release prisoners. He says that budget plan should be released next week.

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