Michigan legislature passes budget ahead of deadline, increase in funding for K-12 schools
LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has a budget in place for 2021 that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. The coronavirus originally had the state making dire budget predictions that there would be a more than $1 billion hole to fill. Road funding gets the full $600 million expected and some programs, which were axed in the last budget like Pure Michigan, are being funded again. An item that is being cut at a $12 million saving is the Detroit Re-Entry Center, which does prisoner programming. The Michigan Department of Corrections is also slimming down administration for a $2.5 million saving.
John Skelton denied parole in 2010 case of three missing sons in Morenci
The imprisoned father of three Michigan boys who went missing in 2010 was reportedly denied parole. John Skelton was charged in 2011 for the wrongful imprisonment of his three sons who went missing from their home in Morenci on Nov. 26, 2010. Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton were 9, 7 and 5 years old, respectively, when they went missing nearly 10 years ago. A group has never been identified or come forward, and John Skelton’s story has changed since his initial claim. According to the family, John Skelton came up for a parole review in July but was denied.
Report: Nearly half of Muskegon Correctional Facility has COVID-19
DETROIT – Almost half of the men incarcerated at a western Michigan prison have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a newspaper report. Roughly 47%, or 612 of 1,296 prisoners at Muskegon Correctional Facility, have tested positive as of last Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press. Since March, 4,620 of 37,497 state prisoners have tested positive and 68 prisoners have died. We have conducted multiple rounds of testing at Muskegon, including testing prisoners who previously tested negative yesterday. We have also offered multiple rounds of testing to staff with additional staff testing next week.
MDOC has tested every prisoner in its system for coronavirus
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Corrections said it has tested every prisoner in its system for coronavirus (COVID-19). The department had been testing symptomatic prisoners since late March and has done more than 1,000 tests. In mid-April the MDOC started mass testing in several facilities to slow the spread of coronavirus. “We simply could not have achieved this goal, this quickly without the assistance of the Michigan National Guard,” Washington said. “This was an incredible display of partnership, and we are proud to work alongside the professionals in the Michigan Department of Corrections,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Wayne County prosecutor seeks victims of inmates who will soon be released from prison -- See a list of names here
DETROIT – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is seeking victims of prisoners who will soon be paroled so they can be properly notified. According to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, MDOC began sending letters to the office early last month about paroling prisoners because of the COVID-19 outbreak. In any given month, MDOC paroles just under 700 prisoners a month. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s over 700 and closer to 800. READ: Hundreds of inmates released from Metro Detroit county jailsAt the county jails in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, officials have been reviewing the cases of inmates who would not be a danger to the public if released.
Wayne County prosecutor seeks victims of inmates who will soon be released from prison
Wayne County prosecutor seeks victims of inmates who will soon be released from prisonPublished: May 5, 2020, 11:12 pmWayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is seeking victims of prisoners who will soon be paroled so they can be properly notified.
Michigan National Guard, MDOC to test prisoners for COVID-19 in the U.P.
LANSING, Mich. – Medical specialists from the Michigan National Guard are assisting Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) staff with COVID-19 testing at correctional facilities. May 2, 2020: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 43,207; Death toll now at 4,020 with 15,659 recoveries reportedBeginning Monday, soldiers will administer COVID-19 tests throughout facilities in the upper peninsula. Testing will begin at the Baraga Correctional Facility and will continue east to Alger Correctional Facility, Marquette Branch Prison, Newberry Correctional Facility, Chippewa Correctional Facility and Kinross Correctional Facility, officials said. “We are very grateful for the support from the National Guard in this effort to continue our testing of prisoners across the state,” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. Samples collected at the facilities will be transported by MDOC to a lab for testing, officials said.
Corrections transportation officer in Detroit dies after contracting coronavirus (COVID-19)
DETROIT – A transportation officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections died after contracting coronavrius (COVID-19), officials said Wednesday. MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)How COVID-19 SpreadsPerson-to-person spreadThe virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. How easily the virus spreadsHow easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Prevention & TreatmentThere is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Prison employee in Lapeer County tests positive for COVID-19
LAPEER, Mich. – Officials with the Lapeer County Health Department announced Sunday an employee at Thumb Correctional Facility has tested positive for COVID-19. How COVID-19 spreadsPerson-to-person spreadThe virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. How easily the virus spreadsHow easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Prevention and treatmentThere is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Michigan Department of Corrections halts visitations at state prisons amid coronavirus concerns
The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has banned all in-person visitations at state prisons amid the state’s rapidly increasing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. “This was not a decision we arrived at lightly, as we understand and recognize the importance of family contact with the prison population,” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. “Our primary concern has to be public safety and reducing the number of people who enter our facilities is a key factor in limiting the potential spread of this illness into our prisoner population.”Update March 12, 2021: Michigan prisons resuming visits for first time in a yearMichigan prisons are taking measures to ensure the safety of their staff, prisoners and the public, officials said. Prisons are conducting screening questions and temperature checks on all employees before their shifts, and cleaning the facilities more frequently, according to officials. AdPrison staff and visitors can sign up for informative alerts from their facility at MDOC’s website here.
Flat Rock family says trusted neighbor used log to peer through window of teenagers’ bathroom
FLAT ROCK, Mich. – A Flat Rock family feels victimized and violated after a trusted neighbor was caught using a log to peer through the window of their teenagers’ bathroom, officials said. Family members said Paul Stabnick lives just down the street in their quiet subdivision. They live right next to Flat Rock Community High School and an elementary school. The father of two teenagers said he noticed a log kept showing up under his children’s bathroom window. He put up a trail camera that captured image after image of Stabnick lurking by the window, climbing up and peering inside the bathroom, according to authorities.
Michigan inmate back in prison after mistaken Ohio release
DETROIT, Mich. – A Michigan inmate who was mistakenly released after being transferred to Ohio to face drug charges is back behind bars after more than a week on the lam, prison officials said over the weekend. Talleon S. Brazil, 31, was captured at a house in Detroit on Saturday by the Michigan Department of Corrections Absconder Recovery Unit after several days of surveillance, according to a department news release. “We are glad this case came to a quick resolution,” Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington said in the release. Michigan officials handed him over to Ohio authorities on Jan. 14 to face drug charges in Scioto County on the condition that he be locked up while in Ohio, then returned to Michigan. Brazil could face new charges for trying to avoid capture following his release in Ohio, the weekend news release said.
Jury awards $11.4M to couple in racial bias case against Michigan
iStock/junialA jury has awarded $11.4 million to a black couple who filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections. Attorney Jon Marko says Lisa Griffey was a probation officer who was racially harassed by white co-workers. Marko says her husband, Cedric Griffey, who was a deputy prison warden, was retaliated against because of his wife's legal challenge. A Genesee County jury found Lisa Griffey was subjected to a hostile work environment and suffered an adverse employment action because of her race. The jury on Monday said Cedric Griffey also suffered.
Michigan Department of Corrections vows review after prison blocks news reports
Workers at the Ionia Correctional Facility blocked inmate access to five stories this year concerning criminal proceedings against a probation officer. (WDIV)LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Corrections is examining how its mail policy is applied after officers at one prison prevented inmates from reading some stories published by the Lansing State Journal. Workers at the Ionia Correctional Facility blocked inmate access to five stories this year concerning criminal proceedings against a probation officer, prisoners' parole and re-sentencing hearings and a lawsuit filed by state prisoners. The Journal reports the Michigan Press Association has questioned why most of the blocked stories were considered unfit for prisoners' eyes. Department spokesman Chris Gautz says the mail policy is designed to keep prisons safe and MDOC workers' lives private.
3 members of Almighty Vice Lords Nation gang indicted on drug charges in Detroit
DETROIT - Three members of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation gang were indicted in Detroit on charges related to the distribution of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and suboxone in Metro Detroit and inside the Michigan Department of Corrections. Collins was also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The Almighty Vice Lords Nation gang is divided into subgroups known as "branches" and "decks," officials said. The Unknown Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Renegade Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Imperial Insane Vice Lords, Executioner Insane Vice Lords, Cicero Insane Vice Lords and 4 Corner Hustler Vice Lords are among the subgroups, according to authorities. Using a communication facility to commit the drug conspiracy offense carries a maximum sentence of 4 years in prison.
DTE, Michigan Department of Corrections launch tree trimming training program for prisoners
JACKSON, Mich. - DTE Energy and the Michigan Department of Corrections are collaborating to offer a tree trim training program for prisoners to fill in-demand positions, according to a news release. The goal of the training program is to offer full-time careers, job experience and skills for citizens returning to life after prison. The companies that DTE use to trim trees have been struggling to find trained workers, according to the news release. DTE and MDOC created the program to help fight the shortage of trained workers while giving employment opportunities to those being released from prison. Prisoners released on parole who have finished the program will be eligible to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 17 Union and work with a tree trim supplier.
Michigan Department of Corrections working to address stress and suicide among corrections officers
MICHIGAN – The Michigan Department of Corrections is trying to address concerns about stress and suicide among corrections officers. The Detroit Free Press reports that the agency's director, Heidi Washington, recently announced to a Senate committee that the department hired a licensed mental health professional to serve as its employee wellness program manager. Washington told the senators that the agency wants to increase training to manage stress and reduce the stigma associated with asking for help.