LANSING, Mich. -- Three state prisons and five prison camps will be closed to save $120 million as budget-conscious Michigan moves toward incarcerating its lowest number of inmates in a decade, Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration said Friday.
The closings will result in layoffs, though it was unclear how many. The Department of Corrections will try to move as many of the 1,072 affected employees as possible into open jobs at other facilities.
The prisons and camps house about 4,600 inmates who will be transferred to other facilities if they still are incarcerated at the time of the closures. The Democratic governor wants to reduce the prison population of 47,550 to below 45,000 by Oct. 1, the lowest head count since 1999.
Critics warned the public is in danger and said the state's budget problems are driving corrections policies when it should be the other way around.
"I'm just not that comfortable letting this many convicted felons out into a poor economy," said Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi, an Ishpeming Democrat who is "furious" prison facilities in his Upper Peninsula district will be closed.
Corrections Director Patricia Caruso, however, said public safety is the agency's top priority.