State Rep. Thomas Albert today expressed frustration with the Michigan Department of Corrections for announcing plans to close a facility and relocate a critical program without informing or seeking input from the Legislature.
Albert, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections, said he was surprised by the department’s announcement that it will close the one-of-a-kind facility in Chelsea that currently houses the Special Alternative Incarceration program.
SAI is a regimented 90-day intensive program that focuses on changing negative behavior into socially acceptable behavior. The department told staff on Monday that it will move the program to the Cooper Street Correctional Facility in Jackson by March 7.
“As a Marine veteran I can say with certainty the environment at the current SAI facility is the closest thing to military training,” said Albert, of Lowell. “When visiting the facility, I was impressed by the unique way they are successfully instilling integrity and discipline into inmates – and I just don’t see how this atmosphere can be recreated in a general population prison.”
Albert expressed frustration that legislators on the corrections budget subcommittees were not looped in on the decision – especially considering the department’s justification for the consolidation was to save money. He said the Legislature has always weighed in on prison closures in the past, and it is important to continue this process going forward because the facilities employ thousands of people and greatly impact the surrounding communities.
“This is bureaucracy run amuck,” Albert said. “Bureaucrats decided to move a prison and then started the process to do so without any warning to the Legislature.
“The Legislature has the power of the purse and has already funded this program in Chelsea throughout 2020. I urge the administration to allow this facility to remain open and work in collaboration with our subcommittee moving forward.”