A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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Cutting Librarians and Therapists Would Save Prisons Millions

Senate Panel Finds $72.5 Million To Cut From Prison Administration

Shhh . . . keep it down.

A Michigan Senate committee has identified $5.6 million the state could save by cutting prison library staff.

“We found that some prisons have up to four library staff members,” said Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Corrections. “Overall, our budget would cut 52 library staff members from the state's prisons. That would bring a savings of $5.6 million.”

That $5.6 million represents only a fraction of the savings the subcommittee identified. On March 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a 2013 budget that sliced $72.5 million from Gov. Rick Snyder's budget recommendation.

In addition to cutting prison library staffs, the committee found that $1.4 million in potential savings could be realized by eliminating music therapists and recreational therapists from prison budgets.

“There's just no way we can justify funding those positions,” Sen. Proos said, referring to the music and recreational therapists. “Prisons need to do more with less, just like the private sector does; and frankly, like most of our schools are doing.”

The highlight of the legislation (Senate Bill 0951) are $58.7 million in savings from reducing facility-level noncustodial (not involved with keeping prisoners in custody) staff by 580.

The largest portion of the $58.7 million in savings would be $32.1 million through elimination of 300 assistant resident unit supervisors. According to the findings of the committee, Michigan's prisons have adequate management personnel without the added layer these supervisors represent.

In addition to eliminating the assistant supervisors and librarians, other cost-saving cutbacks in the measure include:

  • Limiting each prison warden office to just one secretary — $12 million in savings
  • Limiting each prison to just one word processing expert — $2.5 million in savings
  • Limiting each prison to just one deputy warden — $3.1 million in savings
  • Limiting prisons to just one corrections inspector — $1.4 million

“Michigan’s prison populations have decreased by 8,000 in five years and we have closed 14 facilities, yet corrections still employs one-third of all state employees and their costs keep going up,” Sen. Proos said. “This budget is a step toward bringing Michigan’s costs in line with surrounding states. We have reduced unnecessary administration like multiple secretaries and word processing assistants, and we have been innovative enough to ensure taxpayers are getting the most value for their dollar.”

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See also:

The $100K-Plus Employees in Michigan's Prison System

Prison Privatization Bill Locked Up By House Inaction

Teachers in Conventional Public Schools Earn More Than Prison Teachers

Prison Guards vs. Teachers: Who Is Worth More?

Central Michigan University economist Jason Taylor explains how raising the minimum wage will hurt teen workers trying to find their first job. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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