Contractors Installing Air Conditioning at Jackson County Prison

By: Beth Shayne Email
By: Beth Shayne Email

Call it luxury or necessity, but cold air is now a right at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility.

2 rented units are being installed to be used when heat indexes top 90 degrees.

It is not standard air conditioning, lawyers for inmates there argue, but rather temperature control. Elizabeth Alexander, director of the ACLU's National Prison Project, says heat indexes inside those cell blocks can become 125 degrees. She attributes heat to two deaths in the facility in the past.

That was the argument that convinced a judge this work was necessary. Because the 70-year old building will house only sick prisoners this summer, a court ordered the state to install the air.

The Department of Corrections is not hiding the fact that they're paying for the work begrudgingly. These rental units run a $500,000 for the summer. They've also moved a cooling dome in at Egler prison next door at a cost of $400,000.

Spokesperson Russ Marlan argues that though the inmates in question are sick, so are many citizens who have not committed a crime, and don't have air conditioning. "Taxpayers aren't paying for their air conditioning," Marlan says.

The state is saving some money by saving space. Six months ago when the state announced plans--now on hold--to close it, Southern Michigan held 1,400 prisoners. By the court's July 15th deadline for installing the air, the DOC will have just 787, housed in just two units of the buildings. They're moving non-sick inmates out daily.

"Which," Marlan says, "should save us $300, 400,000, so that's a good thing."

The state is appealing the court's air conditioning ruling, but the hearing isn't scheduled until September.

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  • by Eunice Location: Mulliken on Jul 8, 2007 at 01:58 PM
    True that Jo from Jackson, I also don't want it coming out of my taxes, but like u said do we get a say nope.. I guess it pays to commit a crime. and equinox u get over it. how stupid. Yeah lets give the killers and rapers and child molesters air conditioning. While the poor and elderly get nothing they die in heat. Real smart thinking there.. This just angers me to no end.. if they state has all this money then help the ones who didn't commit any crimes (the poor and elderly who need air conditioning to survive the summer) Am I right??? just plain stupid thinking if ya ask me..
  • by Joe Location: Jackson on Jul 7, 2007 at 08:10 PM
    Hate to break the news to the tax paying citizens of Michigan. This little tent has exceeded the cost of 2 million dollars.
  • by Pam Location: Jackson on Jul 7, 2007 at 06:42 PM
    They could have kept the closing quiet until there was very few prisoners left. They could have had it closed in a week before someone could have gotten a restraining order. Granholm goof in trying to highlight 'her' saving plans.
  • by Equinox Location: Jackson on Jul 6, 2007 at 09:41 AM
    People not in prison can go to cooling stations, stores or elsewhere to cool off. Prisoners can not. Get over it. There are also innocent people in prison.
  • by Lisa Location: Holt on Jul 6, 2007 at 07:36 AM
    Wow, the state is forced to spend $900,000 in order to save $300 to $400,000! Makes a boat load of sense! These are the kinds of things that have put the state into the terrible condition it is in.
  • by william Location: lansing on Jul 6, 2007 at 06:21 AM
    Don't you know the judges have to protect their "pets", so when they get out on early release that the repeat offenders will have somewhere more comfortable to come back home to when they get into trouble again. would you want to deprive any "lowlife" offender of that, especially when its paid for by people who put them there inthe first place? what a deal! something for nothing and air for free! ounds like buu to me too! "those who play should pay"
  • by Jo Location: Lansing on Jul 6, 2007 at 04:50 AM
    This is pathetic. Criminals get air conditioning and poor elderly people die every year in heat waves. Where has the common sense of that judge gone? If he is so sympathetic to these prisoners, let him pay for it out of his pocket. As a taxpayer, I DO NOT want it coming out of my pocket... Once again, the ones footing the bill get no say in the decision.
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