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U.P. prisons impacted by DOC changes

Baraga Correctional Facility, Chippewa Correctional Facility are prisons where staffing adjustments are planned

Baraga Correctional Facility near Baraga is pictured. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Department of Corrections recently informed staff of operational changes to several prison housing units that will directly impact three state facilities, including two in the Upper Peninsula. 

These changes will result in a reduction in the custody staffing needed to operate the Baraga Correctional Facility, as well as an increase in Level IV beds that are available to manage the statewide prisoner population.

Baraga Correctional Facility is located in Baraga and is used exclusively for adult male prisoners. While it includes a Level I security facility, it is primarily a maximum security prison.

As part of this plan, a Level II housing unit at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, located 37 miles north of St. Ignace, that has been temporarily closed, will be reopened.  

The change to operations at the Baraga Correctional Facility later this summer reflects a continued decline in the state’s administrative segregation population, which will allow for the closure of an 88-bed unit. The facility, which has experienced high staff overtime due to vacancies, will require 22.75 fewer officers to operate after the change, corrections officials said.

The third facility impacted by this change is the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee. This summer, the department will transition a Level II housing unit to Level IV to increase its capacity at that level.

“The department has closely monitored staffing, capacity and the management needs of prisoners over the past few years to safely reduce the overtime burden on staff at facilities when beds can be placed out of service,” said Heidi Washington, director of the Michigan Department of Corrections. “The changes announced (recently) will provide relief to the staff at the Baraga Correctional Facility, which currently faces a significant amount of overtime due to vacancies. In addition, it will ensure we have additional Level IV custody beds to house individuals who need this increased level of management, which supports our facilities and helps keep our staff safe.”

These changes will result in a net increase of 72 active beds in the MDOC. The Chippewa Correctional Facility currently has four temporarily closed housing units and reopening one will increase officer staffing needs by 10.5.

“While these changes are necessary, we recognize that we are asking the staff at the Chippewa Correctional Facility to take on an additional burden during this period, so I extend my gratitude to them on behalf of the department and their colleagues,” Washington said.

The department continues to actively recruit staff, including corrections officers, for all facilities.

Vickie Fee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 542. Her email address is vfee@miningjournal.net.

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