State senator wants to ban private prisons

    Detained immigrants
    Detained migrants are loaded into a U.S. Border Patrol van at the border of the United States and Mexico on March 31, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) today introduced a bill to ban privately owned prisons or detention centers in Michigan. 

    State Sen. Jeff Irwin | Ken Coleman

    Senate Bill 489, which isn’t yet online, would prohibit the state from contracting with a private detention facility with the purpose of housing any person in the custody of the state of Michigan. 

    “Prisons should not be run for profit, and their incentives are deeply insidious and contrary to our solemn responsibility to provide justice to all,” Irwin said. “These types of facilities make money from high incarceration rates and incentivize the prison’s revolving door, rather than reducing recidivism and improving public safety.”

    Michigan’s only private prison, North Lake Correctional Facility, will house non-citizens detained for immigration offenses. This spring, Florida-based GEO Group was awarded a contract from the Federal Bureau of Prisons

    Private prison wins federal contract to house immigrants in Michigan

    Progressives like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) oppose the for-profit prison system, and she’s specifically called out GEO Group, as the Advance previously reported.

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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