In 1998, the Michigan Department of Corrections opened the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan; right smack in the middle of the Manistee National Forest in Lake County. The facility, known as the “punk prison”, closed in 2005 and was subsequently sold to GEO Group, Inc., a Texas-based conglomerate.
Lake County has suffered unemployment as high as 20% as a direct result of mothballing the youth facility. The situation is about to change, however, due to California’s chronic prison overcrowding.
This blog has been tracking the landmark prison overcrowding case recently argued before the SCOTUS. In a proactive effort to alleviate the situation, California recently contracted with the GEO Group to house more than 2500 inmates in the newly-renovated facility.
California’s contract with GEO is worth a reported 60-million per year to the private detention management services company. The contract begins in 2011 and runs through 2014. Given California’s fiscal woes, you have to wonder how they can afford it.
Nevertheless, Lake County Michigan is ready to absorb the collateral benefits associated with accepting thousands of Californian felons, expecting to add as many as 500 jobs to the local economy.
This development hammers home the idea that in our democratic society, the constant tension between law and freedom results in a massive resource allocation for prisons, jails and law enforcement apparatus.
So when you are driving Up North this summer along M-37, just remember not to pick-up any hitchhikers.
Labels: Baldwin, California, GEO Group, inmate, Lake County, law enforcement, MDOC, Michigan Department of Corrections, overcrowding, prison, SCOTUS