Michigan Could Privatize Prison Health System

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

Running prisons is expensive and the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) says it spends almost $2 billion a year, which takes up one quarter of the general fund.

"I think the citizens of Michigan want us to do a better job of controlling our cost as well as keeping them safe," said Russ Marlan, spokesperson for Michigan DOC.

To do that, DOC requested bids for prison healthcare and mental health work, which means outsourcing positions like psychiatrists, nurses and social workers.

"We want to increase efficiency and decrease cost and if there's a vendor that provides us a bid where that could occur, then we'll take a look at that," Marlan said.

However, that could mean laying off about 1300 state employees. According to the employees' union, just the thought of that is already hurting members.

"To be blunt, many of our members are stressed out right now. They're not sure what's going to happen," said Ray Holman, legislative liaison for UAW Local 6000.

Holman says they've come up with a counter proposal. He couldn't reveal specifics yet, but says their proposal will show state employees can do the job effectively and efficiently.

"What we're looking at is management-staff ratios, we're looking at efficiently using staff, we're looking at people who can do multiple tasks," Holman said.

Holman also said money is not the most important when you're talking about a department that ties in deeply with public safety.

"Forget the dollars, think about the citizens and think about the lives that could be affected by this. Let's not farm that work out," Holman said.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Mike Location: East Lansing on Sep 28, 2012 at 02:11 AM
    They need to privatize everything.
  • by Denise Treesh Location: Muskegon on Sep 27, 2012 at 05:14 PM
    You need to look into the truth about the savings for mental health - they could not prove even a 10% savings so they lumped us in with health care to play with the numbers - smoke and mirrors and the Director of Corrections told staff that he investigated, on the Gov. order, other states surrounding MI and they all told him it turned out to be more costly to the taxpayer. He also said he was against privatization. Hmmmmm... I actually do 4 different jobs - 2 of the would equal 2 full time positions - I must do what CMH staff has separated and should be - case work and case management - do part of the psychiatrists job because they can't do it all - which violates policy- MPRI dumps their job off on us even they they have a budget to do this work...whatever they don't want to hire someone to do they dump it on the clinician's .. so guess what suffers what therapist can on put out fires - TREATMENT... NOW LETS TALK ABOUT WHY INMATES COME OUT WORSE.. let a contractual company pay people less to do it and see what kind of people they will hire - those who no one else will hire - ha, ha they can hardly get psychiatrists - there are even more problems with this than I have room to discuss ...that no one is looking at. Too bad the public has no idea - they need to get educated on the real Corrections and what goes on...This is being rammed through for political reasons and not good ones, I assure you. I was once so naive before I became a state worker - you have no idea
  • by julie on Sep 27, 2012 at 04:11 PM
    is this the State's way of saying "yes to collective bargaining?" SMH
  • by Kelly Location: Jackson on Sep 27, 2012 at 03:07 PM
    The only thing better will be the headline 'Prison Is Privatizing Health System' -- and even better than that would be the headline 'Privatized Prisons Now Open In Michigan.' The private sector always does the job smarter, better and more cost-effective than the Government because if they don't, another company will. The Government has no oversight and no competition, so they're lazy and bloated.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 27, 2012 at 08:20 AM
    Privitizing prisons creates a new system of government-sanctioned slavery. Prisoners can't strike, don't get paid, don't have protections from harmful conditions. Just look at the recent cases where people have been sent to jail by judges and prosecutors who were getting kick backs from the private prison they were being sent to!
  • by Josh on Sep 27, 2012 at 07:45 AM
    CK, prisons cannot and will never support themselves. It costs about $32k per year to house, feed and guard prisoners. Lots of people who are not in prison can't make $32k, how exactly do you expect prisoners to make that much money, or do the work that is equivalent to that much money? They can't guard themselves, they can't really be expected to grow enough food to fully support themselves; can you imagine letting inmates drive tractors to plow fields? Bottom line is that it is expensive to put people in prison. What makes more sense is to look at why people are going to prison and perhaps rethink sending nonviolent offenders there.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 26, 2012 at 10:03 PM
    In no way is privatizing prisons a good idea. I want them to do this though; so the private prison industry fails.
  • by ck Location: lansing on Sep 26, 2012 at 09:56 PM
    The prison should be paying for them selves. There is no reason tax payer's should be supporting people who commit the crime's they do to be put in there. Make them grow there own food, make there own cloth's and do some kind of work to bring in enough money to pay for there healthcare and the worker's wage's and benefit's there.
  • by BJ Location: Mason on Sep 26, 2012 at 09:13 PM
    Bad idea on so many levels!
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