The Michigan Department of Corrections announced that a prison in Muskegon Heights will close in March.
Nearly 175 people work at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility. The Michigan Department of Corrections says it plans to do what it can to ensure that all employees have a job when the prison closes.
The main reason for the closure is because the state’s prison population is down, according to The Michigan Department of Corrections.
Chris Gautz, a spokesperson for MDOC said the closure shows the state’s correctional system is working.
“We’re sending more prisoners back home and fewer of them are coming back to us. So, that’s a good thing. That means less crime, it means lower recidivism,” Gautz said.
Gautz said the closure is good for the state – but not necessarily the workers.
“Unfortunately it does mean when we do really well at our jobs, it means that prisons do close. But in the end that’s a good thing. It’s going to end up saving the state about $19 million in the next fiscal year,” he said.
Gautz says the state will save about $10 million in the current fiscal year.
Gautz says the department believes it will be able to place almost all of the staff at other facilities, saying there are job openings at two other facilities in Muskegon. There are also opportunities in Ionia – which is about an hour away.
Cindy Larsen, president of the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce, also sees opportunity for the workers at West Shoreline.
“It’s always sad when somebody loses their job, but there are about 1,500 job openings along the coast so it’s really an opportunity for these workers,” Larsen said.
Tom Tylutki, president of the Michigan Corrections Organization, says that right now the workers at West Shoreline are going to be deeply affected by the closure.
“We know it is a difficult process, but like MCO has done in the past, we will work to ensure the West Shoreline closure goes as smoothly as it possibly can. All these details that impact officers’ lives must be sorted out, according to MDOC and MCO protocol, in the coming weeks,” Tylutki said.
Tylutki says the MCO will keep members updated “every step of the way” regarding the facility’s closing.