October 21, 2014

Suspected terrorists may be locked up in Standish Max; statement issued by Governor says she's opposed at this time

Governor Jennifer Granholm
By Tim Barnum|News Editor
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STANDISH — There were minimal developments on the prospect of housing California prisoners in the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility (SMF) this week, but Standish Max is still making news, now as a possible location for a courtroom/prison combination to hold Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Monday, Governor Jennifer Granholm said she opposed the transfer.

"Governor Granholm continues to have concerns about the homeland security implications of relocating Guantanamo detainees to Michigan. The governor's top priority is for the safety and security of Michigan citizens. Until the federal government can address the governor's concerns, she is not in favor of moving detainees to Michigan," said an e-mail to the Independent from the governor's press secretary Elizabeth Boyd. “As has been widely reported, the Department of Corrections has been exploring the potential for housing prisoners from other states and federal prisoners at the facilities slated to close. The only thing I have to add is that we would have many, many questions about bringing Guantanamo detainees to Michigan — such a scenario and all of our questions remain unanswered,” said an e-mail received from Liz Boyd, an employee in the governor’s office.

An e-mailed statement from Rep. Bart Stupak's, D-Menominee, office said the transfer is under heavy consideration and that community input will be vital.

“I have been advised by the Office of Management and Budget that Standish Maximum Security Prison is one option being considered to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay. I have spoken with local officials, who have indicated a willingness to listen to a proposal the administration might put forward. Officials from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice will be visiting sites under consideration over the next few weeks. It is important to remember that Standish is just one option under consideration and no decision has been made. I expect to learn more about a proposal after all site visits are completed. Any proposal must have a comprehensive security analysis and economic and job creation implications. I will work with local and state officials to gauge their level of support before a final decision is made," Stupak said.

However, within the prison walls, little word about SMF playing a part in President Obama’s executive order to close Gitmo by Jan. 22, 2010 has been received.

“We haven’t gotten any information,” said SMF Administrative Assistant Rebecca Bailey, adding, however, that even though renovations would be needed to add a courtroom to the prison facility, she thinks it can be done. “We can find space for anything, but I don’t know what it entails.”

In an interview with Michigan Radio, the state’s home for NPR (National Public Radio) news, Standish Mayor Kevin King said he wants Guantanamo detainees in SMF if it means keeping jobs in the city.

In the radio interview, he acknowledged that the inmate load would be considerably less than the prison was accustomed to handling.

“They're talking about 200 inmates versus what we've had in the past, around 600,” King said. “There could be a negative in that regard. I'm hoping that we can continue to employ the same amount of people, and we can employ the same people.”

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