Michigan is 11th of the 50 United States in area and 10th largest by population. With over 10.12 million inhabitants, Michigan ranked eighth in states with the highest violent crime rates.
The crime rate was 330% higher than the national average in 2022, and every one of 19 residents had the risk of becoming a victim of criminal activity in the state. Thus, the state has many state and private prisons dealing with the offenders.
This article brings you a list of private prisons in the state of Michigan and the future of private prisons.
Prisons in Michigan
Michigan has two federal prisons and thirty state facilities, four located in the Upper Peninsula.
Michigan's prisons and correctional facilities range from Level I to Level V, depending on the type of prisoners in the facility or area. Some facilities may have more than one kind of offender, kept in specific areas with a different level of security.
Level I prisoners require the least security and are easily managed by the prison staff. Going up, Level V prisoners are the most dangerous and may pose a death risk to other inmates and the staff. Offenders with maximum management troubles are also considered Level V prisoners.
Michigan Prison Data 2019
- Correctional facilities in Michigan: 29
- Prisoners in Michigan: 38,053
- Jails in Michigan: 88
- Jail population: 17,202
- Community corrections population under probation: 142,653
- Community corrections population under parole: 13,488
- Incarceration rate per 100,000: 381
- Violent crime rate per 100,000: 437
- Property crime rate per 100,000: 1,585
- Michigan-operated correctional facilities' staff: 11,941
- Michigan prison budget: $2,019,056,200
A List of Private Prisons in the State of Michigan
According to 2021 data, private prisons keep 96,370 federal and state offenders, representing 8% of the total state and federal prison population. The number of people in private prisons has risen 10% since 2000.
Compared to states with a high number of private prisons like Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, etc., Michigan does not have a lot of private prisons in the state.
You might be surprised to know that the state has only one private prison, the "North Lake Correctional Facility," which houses federal prisoners. This prison has been a part of the state’s prison system for some time, but it was closed in 2017. The government recently renewed its contract in 2019 after allowing the prison authorities to keep noncitizen criminals.
North Lake Correctional Facility – Baldwin, Michigan
The North Lake Correctional Facility, Baldwin, is the only private prison in Michigan responsible for keeping federal prisoners.
The GEO Group runs the North Lake Correctional Facility, which houses 1,600 offenders. It is a medium and maximum-security prison that only houses male inmates.
In 2019, the company reported that it expected to generate approximately $37 million annually from North Lake. This correctional facility holds noncitizen criminals charged with federal offenses awaiting deportation.
However, in 2019, President Joe Biden announced eliminating federal prisons as they seemed to increase the number of prisoners. Private prisons cost slightly less per inmate as they staff fewer employees. Yet, an increasing number of inmates eventually leads to higher overall expenses.
The order is named "Reforming Our Incarceration System to Eliminate the Use of Privately Operated Criminal Detention Facilities," he has instructed the Justice Department not to renew federal contracts with private prison companies.
This new order regarding private prisons will likely harm the North Lake Correctional Facility business as their 10-year contract with the federal government ends in 2029, barring further policy changes.
It is one of the twelve private facilities influenced by Biden’s recent order, housing federal prisoners; the GEO Group owns and operates eight other facilities affected by Biden's announcement.
Criminal justice professor Jacquelynn Doyon-Martin of Grand Valley State University explained the initial thought behind private prisons. She mentioned, “The whole goal when we started this back in the ‘80s was to save money.
If we could find a corporation to run this, at least from the 1980s neoliberal perspective, we’re killing two birds with one stone. We’re saving money and we’re reducing government control and allowing corporations to come in,” Doyon-Martin said.”
She continued, “We’re cutting staffing in our privatized facilities. You’ve got this staff-to-inmate ratio that almost gets dangerous, arguably. They’re going to push that ratio as much as they can in a privatized facility to maximize profit. That leads to one of my biggest concerns, which would be safety – the safety of the inmates and the safety of the correctional staff.”
At the same time, many agree with Biden's decision not to encourage private prisons as they believe these companies only think of the prisons as a business and do not work toward rehabilitating them.
Abdul El-Sayed, a scholar-in-residence at Wayne State University’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice and former Democratic candidate for governor, said private prisons are inherently corrupt. He mentions, “The challenge with trying to provide public services privately is always that there’s someone in the middle who’s trying to make money off of it.
And when you do that, that sets up an incentive problem, whereby services will necessarily get cut as a function of the profit motive of the corporation who’s trying to provide the service.”
El-Sayed further said, “If the government is taking responsibility for the well-being of incarcerated people, then entrusting that responsibility to a corporation that has an incentive to make money off of its contract, it’s a real problem.
Beyond simply just ending private prisons themselves, we need to end contracted services with private prison companies, whether it’s food or health care, or other services. Those things should be provided by the government, not some corporation that is seeking to make a profit off of the incarceration of people.”
While El-Sayyed called this decision a “great start,” he added, “We’ve got a self-reinforcing system of mass incarceration that has been coupled with the corporatism that we see across the economy to lead to a situation where you have companies that make a lot of money off of the incarceration of people — and that’s just wrong.”
Jim Truxton, the village of Baldwin President, says that the prison is vital to Lake County's economy as it is the second-highest county in Michigan by poverty rate and tenth-highest according to the unemployment rate.
While the overall thought behind ceasing operations in the North Lake Correction Facility might be the prisoners’ and locals’ welfare, it brings employment opportunities to Lake County and pays $1 million in taxes.
When the prison opened again in 2019, GEO Group had hired about 260 people before opening. The staff comprised healthcare professionals, administrative staff, teachers, and support staff.
These workers were employed from the surrounding areas, allowing an economic boost to the area. Deborah Smith-Olsen, the Lake-Osceola State Bank chairperson, lauded the facility's reopening. She stated, "It’s huge, the economic impact of their payroll is something that we haven’t experienced.”
The Bottom Line
Michigan is one of the states that do not have a high number of private prisons, and thus you did not exactly see a list of private prisons in the state of Michigan. However, the North Lake Correctional Facility, Baldwin, is the only private prison in Michigan and is responsible for keeping federal prisoners.
It is a medium to maximum-security prison housing male inmates. It was closed in 2017 but reopened in 2019 to house noncitizen federal prisons. Some people believe that closing private prisons is a good idea, while others think they bring an economic boost to low-economy areas such as North Lake County.