February 14, 2016

As prisoners get moved, corrections officers receive no news

Left in the dark


STANDISH — Corrections officers at the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility (SMF) are still dutifully reporting to work daily, but how long they’ll hold their jobs or where they’ll be transferred when a closure date is officially announced is still unknown.

"The officers bump region for SMF includes our facilities in Saginaw and St. Louis," said an e-mail from Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Public Information Officer Russ Marlan. "For the rest of the employees it will depend on what they individually selected in their specific employee preference plan."

Originally slated to close July 26, then delayed to Oct. 1, and now to-be-announced, SMF is still operating, although the inmate makeup is different.

“We’re still moving out the maximum security prisoners, but we still have minimum security prisoners,” Birkett said. “They’re (prisoners moved out) going to other maximum security facilities.”

According to Birkett, the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility, Marquette Branch Prison and Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility are the destinations for max security inmates bussed out of Standish.

Marlan says the prison is still sitting on the state’s chopping block, but says a set-in-stone date for shuttering the prison has not been established yet.

“We (MDOC) don't have a closure date yet. … We are not having second thoughts, just doing all we can to find another potential user for the facility and keep the employees working. We discuss this issue and reevaluate this situation every week,” Marlan said in an e-mail sent to the Independent on Sept. 11. “If we are unable to find an entity to utilize the facility and set a closure date, our Human Resource folks will begin the formal process of developing bump chains and attempting to find potential work locations for affected staff.”

Birkett explained what will happen to employees of the prison when a closure date is finally established.

“There’s a formal process where letters are given out and it gives staff information on where they’re going to,” Birkett said. “It gives them a certain number of days to accept it and explains their other options.”

The warden also says no other site visits have been pursued by any groups looking to purchase the facility.

Check back for updates.

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