October 20, 2014

Johnson says potential prison reopening has to stay on ‘front burner’

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State Representative Joel Johnson said he and State Senator Mike Green have continued to push for a potential reopening of the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility.
By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — Reopening the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility is going to remain as one of the top issues for local and state leaders but it is going to take teamwork and cooperation, according to 97th State Rep. Joel Johnson R — Clare.

Johnson said that he, State Sen. Mike Green, R — Mayville, and Congressman Dan Benishek, R — Iron Mountain; plan to continue to push for the reopening of the prison.

“We’re, all three, going to keep turning over every rock that we can,” he said. Johnson said that Benishek plans to continue to conduct research about appropriations that are being discussed by the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Johnson added that he has not contacted the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and he, Green and Benishek have explored other options for the sale of Standish Max.

“We have researched other possibilities that I can’t really discuss at this time,” he said. “We have looked at privatization as a possibility but reopening as a federal prison looks like the best possibility.”

At the March 17 Standish City Council meeting, it was brought to the board’s attention that Benishek reportedly stated that he was unaware of the situation with Standish Max. Johnson said that everyone is on the same page.

“He (Benishek) has indicated that he would like to have some face-to-face meetings with us,” he said.

In an e-mail sent to the Arenac County Independent, Benishek said he wants to be as helpful as he can in attempting to get the prison back open.

“Since being contacted by constituents and local officials a few weeks ago, my office has been in contact with the Michigan Department of Corrections, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Governor Rick Snyder’s office, and the city manager’s office, regarding Standish’s closed prison,” he said. “I understand that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is communicating with the Michigan Department of Corrections and has been looking at the possibility of using the facility.”

Benishek said it makes no sense to taxpayers or the community, to not utilize Standish Max.

“We are looking at every way to work with Lansing and the Bureau of Prisons to expeditiously move this forward,” he said.

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