State Reps propose Prison Safety Amendment

State Reps. Frank Foster, Matt Huuki and Nancy Jenkins today put forth an amendment to the state’s corrections budget creating a mandatory report on the effectiveness of perimeter guard patrols at state correctional facilities.

In light of budgetary constraints, Foster has focused on ways to preserve perimeter patrols, which he cites as essential in preventing escapes and contraband smuggling. As a result of thoughtful discussion and compromise, the budget will implement randomized patrols with help from the Michigan State Police.

Today’s amendment attempted to add a further requirement that facilities provide quarterly reports on the effectiveness of the new patrols.

“Kinross Correctional Facility in my district is just one example of the importance of the perimeter guard, having stopped the escape attempt of three convicted murderers in 2010,” said Foster, R-Petoskey. “These patrols work to maintain the safety of both the prison and surrounding communities, and regular reporting will help to monitor the new system implemented by this budget.”

Huuki said the reporting requirement would be a good step in fiscal accountability for the facilities and the state.

“It’s our job to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and provide the expected service,” said Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine. “These reports will help us monitor how a different level of spending and a different patrol design affects results.”

Jenkins agreed that accurate reporting goes a long way toward future funding and policy decisions.

“Michigan is still recovering and we’re trying to live within our means,” said Jenkins, R-Clayton. “The safety of the public is a primary concern and we’re going to be watching this new perimeter guard policy very closely.”

The amendment was approved by voice vote/roll call vote.