Prison Escape Report: Reduced Staffing Endangered Public Safety

Cuts to corrections budget meant guard towers were unmanned
Monday, July 21, 2014

LANSING – House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) and state Representative Andrew J. Kandrevas (D-Southgate) are calling for action after a report from the Michigan attorney general showed that unmanned guard towers may have contributed to the escape of a prisoner from the Ionia Correctional Facility earlier this year. Cuts to the Michigan Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) budget forced the prison to reduce staffing.

“Republicans in Lansing have shown for years that they put corporate profits and cutting services ahead of people, and, this time, their obsession with cutting corners at prisons to save a few short-term bucks led to the escape of a convicted murderer,” Greimel said. “Now, even the Republican attorney general is suggesting that we need to reverse these funding cuts for the safety and well-being of our citizens, and I believe we should follow that recommendation.”

According to the report, MDOC eliminated the use of guard towers on the prison perimeter in 2013. Since then, there have been two escape attempts, one of which was Michael Elliot’s successful escape in February. The report states, “Many of the correctional officers who were interviewed saw the elimination of the use of guard towers as a contributing factor to the escape.” The report also called for the need to have manned patrols in our prisons.

“Our corrections officers know that armed guards in towers could have stopped a killer from roaming the streets,” Kandrevas said. “As legislators, our top priority must be keeping Michiganians safe. We need immediate action by MDOC to ensure the security of our prisons, and as the AG report points out, there are both technological and staffing solutions which must be implemented immediately, including better physical perimeter monitoring.”