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Prison Closing Decisions Taken to Task

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LANSING (WTVB)-The Michigan Department of Corrections is taking some heat on the way it went about closing a number of facilities like Florence Crane and Camp Branch in Coldwater, but the DOC is standing firm in the face of the criticism from the State Office of the Auditor General. The OAG said Corrections didn't keep documentation regarding its decision-making process in closing prisons.

DOC spokesman Russ Marlan said they put a lot of time and effort into the decisions on which ones close, and thought those decisions were appropriately made. During the period October 2007 through September 2011, the State closed eight correctional facilities, eight camps and consolidated the operations of eight facilities into four facilities.

The OAG wanted to measure the effectiveness of DOC's efforts in developing recommendations for prison closures and consolidations, but failed to reach any conclusion due to a lack of DOC documentation. Marlan said that those closings didn't follow a process that could be codified because instead it was a lot of discussions between experts in everything from bed numbers and facility maintenance to staffing considerations that led to a final decision. 

Up until 2007, the state had never closed any prisons, so there was no protocol. The auditor general office recommended DOC maintain documentation in the future. There was data in another area, and the OAG concluded that efforts by Corrections to measure and report actual cost savings from closing and consolidating facilities pursuant to statute were effective.

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