California’s prison crisis is proving to be something of an economic opportunity for other states.
Last week, officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced a deal to send more inmates to facilities out of state in order to meet a court order to reduce prison overcrowding.
That includes some 2,600 California inmates who could be heading to a former youth correctional facility in the town of Baldwin, Mich. The facility is run by The GEO Group, a private prison company.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm welcomed the deal on her Facebook page, saying it would create 450 new jobs and $60 million in new investment.
“We are rejoicing, and everybody is celebrating with us,” Sandy Crandall of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce told the Grand Rapids Press. “It’s good news, especially right now.”
California is also negotiating with Corrections Corp. of America to take nearly 2,400 more state inmates in addition to the nearly 10,000 it currently houses in prisons in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
However, prisoner rights groups say the out-of-state transfers are only a Band-Aid for a much bigger problem.
"Take away 5,000 prisoners, or 15,000 prisoners, and you still have such a high level of overcrowding that significant work still needs to be done to reduce crowding to a manageable level," said Rebekah Evenson of the Prison Law Office.
California's current inmate population of around 165,000 is nearly double the system's intended capacity. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider arguments this month over whether federal courts can require California to cut its prison population further.