The Michigan Department of Corrections announced today that Ojibway Correctional Facility in Gogebic County will close in December as the prisoner population continues to decline statewide, allowing for a second facility to be safely closed in 2018.
MDOC leadership travelled to the facility today to notify staff. The facility has 203 employees.
“The department values the dedication of the hard working staff at Ojibway Correctional Facility, and the support surrounding communities have provided over the years,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said. “We recognize this is a challenging time for staff and we will continue to support them through this process.”
The department will begin working immediately with the employees, their union leadership, and the Office of State Employer on bumping chains and transfer options for employees.
The department will attempt to absorb as many staff as possible into vacancies the MDOC currently has throughout the system, including the approximately 700 corrections officer vacancies.
The MDOC has also committed to working with the Department of Talent and Economic Development and Michigan Works! Agencies across the state to leverage their ability to assist any displaced employees.
The department’s Offender Success model, which emphasizes education and vocational training for prisoners, parolees and probationers to ensure their success in the community, has led to the state’s prison population declining by more than 10 percent in the last three years. In 2017, the state’s prison population dropped below 40,000 for the first time in more than 20 years, and in 2018 the state’s recidivism rate declined to its lowest-recorded level at 28.1 percent.
“We are committed to using taxpayer resources wisely as we further our mission to make Michigan a safer place to live by ensuring returning citizens have the education and skills they need to lead productive lives,” Washington said.
The 2019 fiscal year state budget included a more than $19 million reduction in spending for the MDOC through an additional prison closure.
It will be the second prison to close in the 2018 calendar year, due to declines in the prisoner population, and it is the third closure since the department launched its Offender Success model. West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon closed in March saving an estimated $18.8 million for the 2019 fiscal year. The department closed Pugsley Correctional Facility in 2016.
Since 2005, the department has closed and consolidated 27 facilities and camps, which has resulted in more than $400 million in budget reductions.
Ojibway Correctional Facility, which was built in 1971 as an MDOC camp and converted to a prison in 2000, has the capacity to house 1,162 secure level I prisoners.
There was no single determining factor that led to the closure of the facility. The department weighs a variety of issues when making a decision including bed space vacancy, location, security level and programming availability.