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Bellamy Creek Correctional

Ionia, Mi
Jul 16, 2014 Detroit Free Press

LANSING — In a development a state government spokesman described as “unprecedented,” four Aramark prison workers at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia were fired Wednesday for having inappropriate sexual contact with inmates inside a walk-in cooler, a Corrections Department official confirmed. Critics said the latest development in the 7-month-old Aramark saga should be the last straw for the Philadelphia-based company, whose performance has been plagued with hundreds of problems — including food shortages and kitchen maggots — since it displaced 370 state workers and took over the job of providing three meals a day to about 43,000 state prisoners. The latest firings also mean more than 80 Aramark workers have now been banned from prison property for various infractions — through a mechanism the Corrections Department calls stop orders — since the company took over. State Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, joined the chorus Wednesday of those calling for an end to the contract. “Once again, misconduct by Aramark employees have caused disruption in our prison system,” Singh said in a news release. “What started out as a few concerning incidents has grown into to a pattern of continued poor performance. The result of this failed privatization policy is more than 80 Aramark employees have been banned from correction facilities for their transgressions,” and “all of this leads to dangerous conditions for our corrections officers and ultimately the general public.” Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler, who has said the company is working with the state to improve operations — but also has blamed interest groups who opposed privatization for what she has described as a “media circus” surrounding the contract — had no immediate comment. Of the latest incident, Aramark has “zero tolerance for improper conduct and thank the department for working with us to promptly handle this situation,” Cutler said. Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, said on Wednesday that the governor “has strong and serious concerns,” and “these things must get addressed and resolved. “Quality, safety and security are simply imperative,” Wurfel said. Spokesman Russ Marlan said the corrections department plans to review the status of the Aramark contract at the end of July, though he wouldn’t rule out the state taking further action against the contractor sooner than that. “It’s long past time for the governor to take action,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer said in a news release calling on Snyder to terminate the three-year, $145-million deal with Aramark Correctional Services. “Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to pay for the kind of gross incompetence and dangerous behavior that Aramark is peddling.” Wednesday’s firings came after prison officials reviewed recent surveillance video from inside a kitchen cooler showing female Aramark workers cavorting with male inmates, Marlan said. Two of the kitchen workers were at work Wednesday and were escorted out. Two others were fired and not allowed into the prison when they showed up for work, he said. “It’s unprecedented that four workers at the same facility, in the same day, are placed on stop order,” Marlan said. “It’s concerning on a number of levels.” The conduct involved kissing and sexual touching with several inmates, but no intercourse, Marlan said. “I don’t believe all four of them were in the cooler at the same time,” he said. The firings reduce Aramark staff at Bellamy from 14 to 10, meaning help will need to be brought in from elsewhere, Marlan said. It’s the latest in a litany of problems since Aramark took over food services from state workers Dec. 8. Officials have fined Aramark $98,000 over meal shortages and improper menu substitutions and began strict enforcement of those portions of the contract on July 1. There have also been problems with security issues, Aramark workers smuggling in contraband and getting too friendly with inmates, and with food quality that has led to growing prisoner unrest. The Free Press detailed such problems on Sunday after receiving thousands of pages of records related to Aramark’s contract under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. Those records disclosed a range of problems, including complaints of rotten meat, threats of violence by Aramark workers, frequent food shortages and an earlier incident in which an Aramark worker and an inmate were discovered engaged in a sex act in a walk-in cooler at Carson City Correctional Facility. The state hasn’t yet put Aramark on formal notice on the fraternization/stop order issue and Mel Grieshaber, executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization union representing corrections officers, said Wednesday he doesn’t understand why. The high turnover and untrained Aramark workers pose the greatest threat to prison security and “a potentially volatile situation,” said Grieshaber, who has called on the state to end the contract. The Aramark workers typically are paid about $11 an hour — roughly half what the state workers were paid. Officials estimated the contract would trim $12 million to $16 million from the $2 billion Corrections Department annual budget. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said the state should rebid the contract after the Free Press reported on maggots being discovered in or near food at two Michigan prisons. “It doesn’t matter if they’re prisoners or who they are, people don’t deserve that type of treatment,” Richardville said. Marlan said criminal charges are possible against the Aramark workers in the latest incident. Federal law treats any sexual contact between prison staff and inmates as abuse, and officials are investigating, Marlan said.

 

Calhoun County Jail
Battle Creek, Michigan
Correctional Medical Services

March 25, 2005 WZZN13
A sneeze changed Linda Peterson's life forever.  Peterson, 53, of Battle Creek, was a licensed practical nurse working in the Calhoun County jail when a female inmate sneezed during an examination on May 15, 2002. What Peterson didn't know at the time was that the woman was infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a bacteria resistant to many antibiotics. Peterson believes it was that sneeze which infected her. For Peterson, the infection forced amputation of her middle toe and a portion of her left foot, forced her to stop working, plunged her into depression and placed her nearly $100,000 in debt because of medical bills and her inability to work.  She can't rid her body of the infection and can only hope to control it. Peterson was working for Correctional Medical Services, a St. Louis, Mo., company which contracts with Calhoun County to provide medical care in the jail. The company provides correctional health care in 27 states. Peterson and another former registered nurse working for CMS, Sally Lett of Kalamazoo, and two former inmates, contend CMS and jail personnel did not do all they could to disinfect jail living areas and equipment to help prevent the spread of the bacteria. "It wasn't as clean as it should be," Peterson said. "We didn't always have the supplies." "The health and safety of the inmates and the employees was not a consideration," Lett alleged.

Carson City Correctional Facility
Carson City, MI
Jul 13, 2014 Detroit Free Press

LANSING — At Carson City Correctional Facility in February, prison officials entered a walk-in freezer to find the cooling unit shut off and an Aramark kitchen worker on her knees in front of a male inmate, engaged in a sex act. The worker didn’t tell prison officials she was coerced. She was wearing a personal alarm, which wasn’t activated. Officials fired her and banned her from prison properties. It’s one of dozens of examples of Aramark workers losing their jobs after getting too friendly with inmates, by exchanging love letters, kissing them, trying to smuggle them contraband, and even baking one a special farewell cake to celebrate his release, according to records obtained by the Free Press under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. Corrections officers say the conduct of some Aramark workers — who typically make about $11 an hour and have high turnover — puts them and the safety of the entire prison system at risk.

■ They say it’s a short and slippery slope from getting friendly or intimate with inmates to helping them obtain weapons or escape. Aramark officials stress that keeping a professional distance from inmates is part of employee training. But records show that training has often been ineffective. “We’re so fed up,” said Mel Grieshaber, executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization union representing correction officers.

■“They’re around prisoners who are manipulative,” he said of the Aramark employees. “If you’re not determined, you end up allowing things to happen.” Former Aramark employee Christopher Amando Mitchell is a case in point. Prison reports show the 19-year-old worker at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson was already “suspected of over-familiarity/fraternization with inmates” when a March 19 search as he entered the prison turned up two bags of marijuana wrapped in duct tape. Mitchell awaits sentencing after he pleaded guilty June 13 to smuggling contraband into a prison, a five-year felony. It’s not that over-familiarity never happened with kitchen workers employed by the state, who were paid about twice as much and had additional training that allowed them to pat down prisoners without corrections officers present. But the rate of incidents was not nearly as high, state and union officials agree.

■ In other instances of over-familiarity involving Aramark workers:

■ At the Charles E. Egeler Reception & Guidance Center in Jackson, “I was making a round through the kitchen and saw approximately 15 inmates back in the commissary area eating cake,” Corrections Officer Jason Duncan reported March 16. He found out an Aramark employee “baked the cake for inmate Harris 196839 and was permitting a group of inmates to eat it because Prisoner (Paul Dione) Harris was leaving the next day.”

■ At Newberry Correctional Facility, a Feb. 16 search of an Aramark worker found two love notes in the bill of her cap, which she later admitted were from an inmate.

■ At Michigan Reformatory, two Aramark workers were fired Jan. 28 after officials discovered they were receiving phone calls from prisoners and putting money into the inmates’ accounts.

■ At Lakeland Correctional Facility, a March 20 search of an Aramark worker turned up a love note to a prisoner hidden in her shoe.

■ On March 18 at Egeler, corrections officers overheard prisoners applauding an Aramark worker who was telling them the “corrupt” prison officials had “tried to get me” removed, but failed. The worker, who was later fired, “has decided to side with the prisoners as friends or co-workers,” prison Sgt. Robert Grace said in an e-mail.


Cook Nuclear Plant

Bridgman, Michigan
Wackenhut (Group 4)

April 15, 2009 TWSJM AM
The Cook Nuclear Plant is shaking up its security force. The Plant is ending its contract with Florida-based Wackenhut Corporation and instead offering all security officers jobs with Indiana Michigan Power. 162 existing contracts employees will transition into members of the American Electric Power security team. Cook Senior Vice President Joe Jensen says joining the American Electric Power team will help the plant's security be more effective. The plan is expected to give more control over integrated operations and costs and give more benefits to security employees.

Egeler Reception and Guidance Center
Jackson, Michigan
Jul 10, 2014 wlns.com

LANSING, MI (WLNS) - The Snyder administration has not made a final decision, but there are indications that the governor is considering terminating a food service contract in the state prison system. 6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick has an update on this continuing story. The governor is not happy with the Aramark Company and its handling of food services behind prison walls. Insects were found on the chow line, 80 employees have been fired, the company has been fined $98,000 and 150 inmates got sick. Although no one has linked that to maggots and fly larvae in the kitchen. So is the governor thinking about terminating the contract? He did not say yes, but he clearly did not say no. “Well there’s been a number of issues. So I would say we’re approaching those kind of points, in terms of what needs to be done.” Reporter: “You would consider canceling the contract?” Governor Snyder: “Well again, I don’t want to start all kinds of speculation, but the performance hasn’t been acceptable and so we need to get these things resolved.” The legislature, not the governor decided to fire 370 state employees who did the food services prior to the private company coming in. The state prison director even told lawmakers not to do it. Representative Greg MacMaster chairs the prison budget and he is warning against moving too quickly to end the contract. He thinks that organized labor, which lost those jobs, may be trying to exploit this story. Meanwhile it has been learned that while no final decision has been made, the governor is considering all options and termination of the contract has not been ruled out. “They need to fire the company. They need to get rid of them. We’re having big problems in the institutions out there. Aramark should be let go,” said Mel Greishaber, union president. Even though this union leader does not represent the food service workers, he says his members are worried. “Corrections officers are worried about the safety and security of the intuitions,” said Greishaber. For now all eyes are on the governor as he considers his next move.

 

4 Jul 2, 2014 detroitnews.com

Lansing— Michigan Department of Corrections officials have put their private prison food service provider on notice about a second corrections facility maggot infestation, department spokesman Russ Marlan confirmed Wednesday. Maggots — reportedly in one or more potatoes — were discovered by food workers peeling potatoes for a meal to be served later in the day at Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, Marlan said. Egeler is the intake center where 1,103 new inmates are held for up to two weeks awaiting placement in the corrections system. The infestation was the second in less than a week at a Jackson prison facility and adds to Corrections Department officials’ worries regarding their $145-million, three-year contract with service giant Aramark to run the prison system food service. “It’s another serious issue as pertains to sanitary conditions of our Corrections system kitchens,” Marlan said. He said Egeler Warden Heidi Washington ordered Aramark workers to throw out a pallet of raw potatoes that had been stored in the prison kitchen. He said the kitchen was scrubbed with bleach and the Corrections Department then ordered an early garbage collection to get the spoiled potatoes off the prison grounds. An estimated 30 inmates developed food poisoning symptoms last weekend and Monday, following an incident last Friday in which maggots were discovered in a crack between components of a food service apparatus at Parnall Correctional Facility, also in Jackson. In that case, workers also scrubbed down a cafeteria with bleach. Aramark signed with the state in December to run the prison food services at an estimated annual savings of at least $12 million. The arrangement displaced 370 state workers and drew criticism from the prison officers union, which speculated the private provider would make mistakes that compromise safety. Corrections officials penalized Aramark $98,000 in March for problems such as over-familiarity by its workers with inmates. The department has warned the company it will strictly enforce contract terms, effective at the start of this month. Gov. Rick Snyder expressed concerns about the maggot problem during a public appearance Tuesday.

Macomb County Jail
Macomb County, Michigan
Correctional Medical Services

November 17, 2004 Macomb Daily

Macomb County officials approved a $410 million budget for 2005 on Tuesday that holds the line on taxes and paints the kind of fiscally sound picture that contrasts sharply with the red ink plaguing many Michigan cities and counties.
But not all of the news is good. The cost of medical services for jail inmates has risen 34 percent, from $3.3 million to $4.5 million over the past year. On Tuesday, the county Board of Commissioners approved an audit of the medical services, at a cost of $20,000, to determine why costs are skyrocketing. In the interim, the board authorized a temporary, 6-month contract extension with the company that provides the services, Correctional Medical Services. The jail books 26,000 inmates a year.

April 12, 2004 Macomb Daily
The family of a Macomb County woman left an invalid after she leapt from a balcony at the Macomb County Jail may have to pay $100,000 to the medical provider they named in their failed lawsuit at U.S. District Court, Detroit.
  Attorneys for Correctional Medical Services Inc., the medical care provider at the jail, have asked federal Judge Paul Gadola to sign a court order imposing $100,016.31 in court costs, attorney fees and other expenses against the family of Patricia Rose House for suing them in her November 2001 jailhouse injuries.  Earlier this year, the county and the medical carrier both won a motion to have the federal case dismissed. While the county and its employees basically let the matter end there, officials and records indicate CMS is going a step further to demand payback for its trouble thus far.  The plaintiffs claimed that officials should have prevented House from jumping from a second-floor balcony to the first floor, causing severe injuries which left her a quadriplegic. Court documents claim she should have been receiving the drug Depakote to treat bipolar disorder, and mistreatment or neglect by medical personnel caused her to lapse into a suicidal episode.  When she was brought into jail, she was examined by medical personnel who determined she was not suicidal. Days after her arrival, she jumped.

Michigan Youth Center Facility (AKA North Lake CF)
Baldwin, Michigan
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)

April 30, 2012 Detroit News
A proposal to close an Ionia prison and transfer inmates to a privately owned facility has sparked a debate within the ranks of Republican lawmakers about whether only government should be in the incarceration business. At least one GOP lawmaker believes privately run prisons could be as significant a change in how prisons are run as charter schools were to public education. "Everybody sharpens their pencils and looks at a new way of doing things when they have competition," said Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland. But legislation authorizing the Department of Corrections to contract with a multinational company to house convicts in its rural west Michigan correctional facility has been stalled for months because there are not enough Republican votes in the House to pass the bill, Haveman said. "To give up the entire running of a prison, I think, is giving up too much control," said Rep. Mike Callton, a Republican from Nashville in Barry County, who has constituents who work in Ionia's five prisons. To bypass opponents like Callton, Republican budget writers, instead of trying to get a law passed in the GOP-dominated House, added a provision to the proposed 2012-13 Department of Corrections budget requiring the department to close the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia and accept bids for a privately run prison. The budget plan assumes $7.1 million in net savings to the department's $2 billion budget under the plan. The department doesn't support shuttering the 1,300-bed prison and wasn't consulted, spokesman Russ Marlan said. "We feel a closure isn't needed," the department's legislative liaison, Jessica Peterson, recently told the House Appropriations Committee. Following the January closing of Mound Correctional Facility in Detroit, Corrections Director Dan Heyns had said the agency would not need to close any more prisons in the near future. Geo Group Inc., a Boca Raton, Fla., corrections company, is trying to reopen its 1,740-bed North Lake Correctional Facility near Baldwin after a plan to house California prisoners fizzled. The Lake County facility is specifically identified in the two stalled House bills as a location for a privately run prison. Geo Group's lobbyist is former House Speaker Rick Johnson, R-Leroy.

September 7, 2011 Ludington Daily News
California’s changing plans for its inmates will cost about 144 jobs in Lake County as The GEO Group prepares to transport the 270 Californian prisoners who are currently there back west. Paul Griffith, executive director of Michigan Works! West Central, said the inmates are Californian prisoners who were previously housed in Arizona, so he is not sure where they will ultimately be sent when they leave Michigan. Griffith said about 161 people are currently working at GEO’s Lake County prison, which is named the North Lake Correctional Facility and is located near Baldwin in Webber Township. “They will be keeping 17 key positions on understanding they want to keep a turnkey operation when they serve a new customer,” he said. That leaves 144 employees who will be laid off Oct. 3.

September 6, 2011 9&10 News
The North Lake Correctional Facility just re-opened in May after lying vacant for years. Now it is set to close once again. Today, more than 170 employees were handed their pink slips as the prison's owner, GEO Group, decided not to renew its contract with North Lake. The 270 inmates will begin to be relocated before October 2nd when the current contract ends while Baldwin is left with their hands empty. About 17 employees will be kept on hand for maintenance in case the prison agrees to a new contract in the next few months.

April 11, 2011 Michigan Messenger
Budget problems and changing priorities in California threaten to derail plans to send thousands of inmates to the GEO Group’s private prison in Baldwin. Last year California’s overcrowded prison system agreed to pay The GEO Group $60 million a year to house 2,580 inmates at the company’s North Lake Correctional Facility starting in May. But now California is struggling to close a $15.4 billion deficit and the new Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that would reduce the state prison population by transferring prisoners with short sentences into county jails where they could gradually reintegrate into their communities. The bill, however, won’t take effect until a mechanism for funding the program is established and with budget negotiations stalled in the legislature, it’s unclear how or when that will happen. “We are in a very volatile situation with the budget and legal authority to send inmate out of state is in question,” California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation Undersecretary Scott Hernan said in an interview Friday. Hernan said that at this point the dept. is still planning to begin sending 130 inmates a month to Baldwin by plane starting next month, and hopes to be able to continue plans with GEO. Ryan Sherman is spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officer Association, which represents state corrections officers and opposes plans to ship inmates out of state. “This is a California state department,” he said. “Should they really be trying to send taxpayer dollars and jobs to another state in the middle of a budget crunch?” California is also waiting on delivery of an opinion in a U.S. Supreme Court case that could influence how the state needs to deal with overcrowding issues, he said. This Spring the court is expected to announce it’s opinion in Plata v. Schwarzenegger, a case that examines the legality of a court order that California reduce its prison population in order to address unconstitutional conditions (inadequate medical care) in the corrections system. If the Supreme Court determines that California must reduce its prison population then outsourcing prisoners might be one way to comply with that mandate, Sherman said, though it would be an expensive way to do it. No matter the outcome of the ruling, he said, it may not be wise to begin the process of moving prisoners when a decision is imminent. In Baldwin, training for employees at the prison was delayed last week but the GEO Group refused to give details about the status of plans for the California inmates. The company has said that the deal with California will lead to 500 jobs at the facility by 2014. Joe Baumann is correctional officer at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles and secretary for the group Corrections USA. “I believe there is a very high likelihood that [California inmates] will not go to Michigan,” he said. “A couple county jails — Orange, LA and Fresno — have sizable units empty for budget reasons,” he said. “They’ve got units that are there mothballed. It’s not enough to make a significant dent in prison crowding but it is enough to absorb the inmates that would have gone to Baldwin. LA County has got about 1500 empty beds.” “This puts GEO in a situation where they are fighting counties for money.” The uncertainty around the deal with California is the latest in a series of problems for The GEO Group’s Michigan property. The North Lake Correctional Facility was built as a 500 bed maximum security youth facility but was shut down in 2005 after the state ended its contract with the company amid lawsuits alleging abuse. In 2009 GEO expanded the prison to 1,725 beds in expectation of winning a federal contract to house immigrant detainees but those plans were stopped last year after the federal Bureau of Prisons canceled its request for more space for criminal aliens.

April 4, 2011 Grand Rapids Press
The GEO Group, the corporation that plans to house California prisoners in the former “punk” prison, told village officials on Monday that it still plans to open May 1. The township contacted the company after rumors started floating around town, Village President Doug Bolles said. He said Kevin Thiel, the public-works superintendent, contacted GEO Group and was assured the company had not changed its plans. “He said, ‘Everything’s still a go,’” Bolles said. A man who was hired to work at the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility said he was supposed to attend orientation on Monday. But a GEO representative called on Friday, and told him not to show up because prisoners would not arrive on the scheduled date, said the man, who did not want to be identified. He hoped the delay was just a last-minute glitch because he and others need jobs. The re-opening of the prison, which closed in 2005, is expected to employ 500 people by 2014. The GEO Group, which owns the facility, signed a $60-million-a-year contract with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to house up to 2,580 inmates from 2011 to 2014. Now known as the North Lake Correctional Facility, it is undergoing a $60 million renovation. Bolles said he has monitored California’s budget problems. He hoped that Jerry Brown’s election as governor after Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped down would not affect the deal. GEO Group did not respond to telephone messages or email by The Press seeking comment.

March 3, 2010 The Grand Rapids Press
A proposal to house illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in a former state "punk prison" is dead, according to the Florida firm that owns the North Lake Correctional Facility. The federal Bureau of Prisons has canceled its solicitation for prison space due to a funding shortfall, according to a news release issued by the GEO Group. Sandy Crandall, president of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Center, said she was disappointed by the news. "I just have to be hopeful that they've got something else in mind, a Plan B," Crandall said. "We'll certainly support them any way we can. They've got a huge investment there." GEO has nearly completed a $60 million project which expanded the facility from 530 beds to 1,225 with an eye toward the federal contract. Last November, federal prison officials were given the red carpet treatment when they visited Baldwin to assess its suitability for the contract. Community leaders had hoped GEO would land the federal contract and bring about 500 jobs to the town, located 85 miles north of Grand Rapids. When it closed in 2005, the prison employed 220. The prison opened in 1998 as a "punk" prison for as many as 480 13- to- 19-year-old boys and young men. GEO officials said they would continue to market the Baldwin site to federal, state and local detention facilities around the country.

March 2, 2010 Reuters
Prison operator Geo Group Inc (GEO.N) said it is "disappointed" by the Federal Bureau of Prisons' decision to cancel a solicitation for a facility to house illegal aliens convicted of crimes, sending its shares down as much as 8 percent. Geo blamed a funding shortfall for the BOP withdrawing its proposal, which the company expected would fill its Baldwin, Michigan correctional facility. A 1,225-bed expansion of the existing 530-bed facility is scheduled to be completed in 2010. Robert Wasserman of Dawson James Securities said, the share falls of Geo and rival Corrections Corp of America (CXW.N) -- which was trading down 3 percent -- indicated investor fears of further cuts in federal prison business. "They all do business with the (BOP) and federal agencies have really been the strongest in the last couple of years -- better than the states," Wasserman said. But he viewed this as a short-term setback and said the private prison operators can expect more federal business next year.

February 22, 2007 Ludington Daily News
Officials in Lake County had hoped to contract with out-of-state agencies to house prisoners in the Webber Township facility, but that plan may have hit a snag this week. The California Superior Court ruled Tuesday that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shipment of inmates without their permission to out-of-state prisons was not legal, according to reports in the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times reported Ohanesian’s ruling invalidated the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s contracts with GEO and CCA because Schwarzenegger’s declaration was not valid. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian ruled Schwarzenegger’s declaration of a prison overcrowding emergency was “unlawful” after the California corrections officer union filed a lawsuit challenging the declaration and Schwarzenegger’s plan to ease overcrowding by sending inmates to out-of-state prisons. Schwarzenegger proposed shipping inmates out of state to alleviate overpopulation within the California prison system, which stands at nearly 200 percent of capacity. The GEO Group, the Boca Raton, Fla. based company who owns the Lake County prison, had contracted with California to house inmates at one of the company’s facilities in Indiana. California has moved 360 prisoners to private facilities in Tennessee and Arizona owned by the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America. Officials from California visited Lake County for a tour of the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility, but have not contracted to use the shuttered 450-bed prison.

October 6, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A California prison overcrowding emergency declaration could speed up that state’s contract negotiations with GEO Group, which owns the Lake County prison. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa said the agency is continuing to talk with three private prison companies, one of which is GEO, to negotiate contracts to move prisoners to out-of-state facilities. “We’re going to continue contract negotiations with three companies and whoever else jumps in,” Sessa said. Officials from GEO said they are continuing talks with California. “We’re looking forward to working with the state,” said Pablo Paez, director of corporate communications at GEO. “We’re working with them and we look forward to work through the process.” GEO has available beds at three facilities, including the Lake County site, Paez said, noting that California officials have visited the facility sites. Paez said he has no specific timeline for contract talks, but added that the state-of-emergency declaration demonstrates “they have an immediate need to send up to 5,000 inmates out of state.”

September 27, 2006 Ludington Daily News
Rumors abound in Lake County about a timeline for the GEO Group prison to reopen. County officials believe it’s only a matter of time before the company signs a contract, possibly with the state of California, to house inmates in the closed facility, which closed nearly a year ago when Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed funding the state’s contract with the company. Bill Cole, of Custer, a maintenance worker at the former youth prison, said he hasn’t heard anything for sure, but the signs are looking positive. “We are starting to prepare the facility in the event something should happen,” Cole said, noting GEO initiated the work. “They called and talked to me and said we’re not there, we’ve not signed a contract. GEO spokesman Pablo Paez said work at the facility in the last couple of days is in preparation for an official visit from an undisclosed agency.

September 18, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A bill that allows The GEO Group, the owner of the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Lake County, to contract with out-of-state or federal agencies became law today. After a week-long review, Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed House Bill 5800 late Friday and presented it to the Secretary of State’s office today. “The governor supports this bill because it’s good for economic develop and jobs by providing an alternate use for this facility,” said Heidi Watson of the governor’s communication office. “Hopefully, this will create jobs, and it allows this facility to be reused, which is what we hoped would happen.” Rep. Goeff Hansen, the bill’s sponsor, was hopeful for the future of the community now that GEO has expanded options in renting beds at the facility. “I’m glad she did it,” said Hansen, R-Hart, when informed by the Daily News that Granholm signed the bill. “Hopefully, it’s going to be a good opportunity for Lake County to get back in stride, to get businesses back in business. I’m pleased it went through.”

September 11, 2006 LA Times
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not inspecting the orange crop when he slipped out of the state for a quick trip to Florida, and he wasn't eyeing a new set of wheels when he visited with car dealers. Nor was he parched when he bellied up to liquor dealers in Lake Tahoe, or craving a burger when he chatted with Jack-in-the-Box owners. Rather, he was gobbling up campaign money at each stop. As legislators were approving more than 1,000 bills in August, Schwarzenegger was crossing the state, and the country, soliciting campaign cash. Now, as he decides whether to sign those bills into law or nix them with a veto, he will be cashing checks from scores of contributors whose interests intersect with legislation. In his quest to be reelected, Schwarzenegger is raising money from all manner of businesses: restaurants, insurance companies, banks, financial services providers, construction and real estate interests, farmers, energy producers and car dealers. All have business before the state. On the last weekend in August, as legislators prepared for their final sprint before adjourning for the year, Schwarzenegger traveled to Florida for a fundraiser organized by his brother-in-law, Anthony Shriver. The event was at the home of a major donor to Republican candidates and causes, Randal Perkins, and generated about $500,000. Perkins' firm, Ashbritt Environmental, does cleanup after natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. According to Perkins' lobbyist, Ronald L. Book, Ashbritt has no state contracts in California. However, several donors who gave at the fundraiser do have business here. Geo Group, a Florida firm that operates private prisons, has long sought more business in California. Geo's Sacramento lobbyists worked to shape the governor's prison overhaul package, which failed in the Legislature on the final day of its session. The package might have increased the number of California inmates housed by private firms.

September 10, 2006 Sacramento Bee
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is conducting an inmate survey to see how many prisoners might be interested in serving their time out of state -- and a Florida company that has contributed $90,000 over the years to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it would be happy to accommodate them. Department spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said the agency can administratively transfer inmates out of state if they volunteer for the move and if the contracts with out-of-state operators do not exceed a year. Longer term deals, Hidalgo said, would require legislative approval. "If there's a willing inmate and a vendor, we can do this on our own right now," Hidalgo said. One major private prison company, the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., has expressed interest in housing California inmates at its facilities in Michigan, Indiana and Louisiana. GEO currently operates four private prisons in California. It also contributed $22,300 to Schwarzenegger on Aug. 25, in the last week of the legislative session, when lawmakers declined to act on proposals designed to ease prison overcrowding in California. One bill would have required inmate approval for out-of-state transfers. In legislative hearings, GEO expressed support for an involuntary transfer plan. Altogether, GEO has contributed $90,300 to Schwarzenegger going back to 2003.

September 7, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A deal that might have supplied California inmates to the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Lake County could be in jeopardy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed sending inmates to out-of-state facilities — potentially including the Lake County prison — without getting the inmates’ permission. However, the future of the proposal is unclear. The California Assembly refused to vote on the measure despite the California Senate passing a bill allowing the transfers only with the inmate’s permission, which is current California law. The California legislature, a part-time legislature, left session for the year Friday without approving Schwarzenegger’s four-bill package. The bills faced opposition by Republicans in the Assembly as well as the corrections officer union and garnered only lukewarm support from Democrats. In addition, Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger also faces a challenge from Democrat Phil Angelides in the November election. The Baldwin area facility was mentioned as a possible recipient of California inmates, and officials from California reportedly visited the site earlier this summer. Pablo Paez, communications director for GEO Group which owns the Lake County prison, said he had “nothing new to report” with regard to any deal to house inmates there. Paez said GEO has been in contact with California and with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding possibly renting bed space at the facility a few miles north of Baldwin. Refusing to name where else GEO is seeking rentals, Paez said “the company remains active in marketing our facility.”

August 31, 2006 Daily News
The Lake County community is one step closer to reopening the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility thanks to a bill passed Wednesday by the House of Representatives in a 72-31 vote. The bill heads to the governor’s desk for approval, and she has said she will sign it. House Bill 5800, sponsored by Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, would allow GEO Group, the prison’s owner, to contract with out-of-state vendors to house inmates in the Baldwin facility. Current state law mandates the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility can only be used to house Michigan youth offenders. “We are supportive and the governor expects to sign the bill,” said Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for the governor’s office. “It’s up to lawmakers how quickly they move it to us.” Once the bill arrives on the governor’s desk, she will have 14 days to sign it into law. The approved Senate amendment removed the state from oversight in the facility. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a Tallahassee, Fla., based not-for-profit watchdog organization that opposes the concept of for-profit prisons. “I’m sure the citizens of Michigan are proud to know their Legislature is looking after their public safety. The state is responsible for inmates in the facility. The courts have ruled on that. You can’t contract away liability. Michigan has the ultimate responsibility of regulating prisons and jails in the state. They’re ultimately responsible for the conditions.” Kopczynski has documented on his Web site more than 30 pages of lawsuits against GEO. “The whole idea they can take over a government service and do it cheaper (is false),” Kopczynski said. “They don’t pay wages, they don’t have the benefits, and they have high turnover which leads to abuse and escapes. They say they’re in it for public safety — that’s BS. They’re in it for the money.”

August 30, 2006 Ludington Daily News
The Lake County community is one step closer to reopening the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility thanks to a bill passed today by the House of Representatives. The bill heads to the governor’s desk for approval, and she has indicated she will sign it. House Bill 5800, sponsored by Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, would allow GEO Group, the prison’s owner, to contract with out-of-state vendors to house inmates in the Baldwin facility. An amendment to the bill — which would have limited the risk level of inmates that could have been housed in the facility — was voted down before the bill passed in a concurrence vote. It had already passed both the house and senate earlier this year, but because the senate added an amendment to the bill, the house had to issue a concurrence vote.

August 2, 2006 Cadillac News
The fate of Lake County's youth prison could be in the hands of the California Legislature. California's Department of Corrections is considering a proposal that would allow the state to export illegal immigrants to the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility near Baldwin. A CDC official met with a representative of the GEO Group and Lake County Sheriff Bob Hilts Monday in Baldwin to discuss a possible arrangement to fill the 550-bed maximum-security prison. “It's one proposal we're looking at,” said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for CDC. “We have historic levels of overpopulation.” Thornton reported 16,000 of the state's inmates are housed in alternative situations, many of those triple-bunked. “If we do nothing, we'll run out of beds in a year,” she said. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called a special session of legislature to address overcrowding and other prison system issues. The session begins Monday. A series of proposals, including one involving use of the Baldwin facility, will be under consideration by the state's lawmakers, according to Thornton. California is one of several entities facility owners the GEO Group is in negotiation with to enable it to reopen the six-year-old $37 million prison. Gov. Jennifer Granholm closed the facility last October when she withdrew its funding, Before GEO is able to reopen the prison, it must gain legal rights to enter into contracts with the State of California, or other states, federal or local agencies. The State Corrections Code only allows its use as a youth correctional facility under contract with the State. Michigan legislators have shown strong bipartisan support for a bill that would permit GEO to import out-of-state detainees or inmates and contract with other agencies. The House passed the legislation 83 to 20. The Senate approved the bill 36 to 1, said Peter Wills, spokesperson for State Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. While Granholm had vetoed a version of the bill in May that would have mandated state use of the prison in overcrowding conditions, she has indicated support for the “concept” of the legislation, Wills said. But the bill continues to draw opposition. Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, and Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Rudyard, added amendments that would prevent import of inmates. “It will be taken up on Aug. 9. We're working with House leadership to work with members who offered the amendments to see if they would rescind,” Wills said. “We're confident the bill is still a good one.” Even given the authority for filling the prison with a new inmate population, GEO's problems won't end. Before closing, the facility employed 200 workers. “GEO's going to have to do an intensive search for employees,” said Hilts. The bottom line is that operations must be cost effective “Everybody that has visited is interested,” Hilts said. “The question is if they can make a deal. Its always monetary.”

July 26, 2006 AP
A former youth prison in Baldwin would be allowed to house a wide range of prisoners under legislation passed Wednesday by the state Senate. The bill would allow the prison to be used for a Michigan prison population, county prisoners, out-of-state prisoners or federal detainees. The former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility, located about 65 miles north of Grand Rapids, was closed last year. The legislation is designed to provide flexibility so the privately owned prison can house adult offenders and those not just under the jurisdiction of the state corrections department. The 480-bed prison, run for six years by GEO Group Inc., closed last October after state officials decided they could save $18 million by sending the young inmates housed at the Lake County facility to other prisons and ending the contract with the company based in Boca Raton, Fla. The legislation passed the Senate by an 36-1 vote and now goes back to the House because the Senate made changes to it. Before voting, Democrats tried to amend the bill to restrict the type and number of inmates that could be housed in the facility. But the amendments failed. When the bill came up for final passage, only Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, voted against it. Sen. Mike Goschka, R-Brant, was absent and did not vote.

July 25, 2006 Ludington Daily News
The Baldwin prison could reopen if the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the owners of the prison, GEO Group, can reach a deal. “GEO and California (corrections) officials are in the preliminary stages of exchanging information and determining if there is mutual interest to continue discussions,” said Peter Wills, legislative assistant to State Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. GEO acknowledged the company is engaged in talks with California about the Baldwin facility. “We’ve had discussions with California for quite a while,” said Pablo Paez, director of communications at GEO Group. “The state has issued a request for information (about available facilities) to send criminal aliens out of state. We’re responding with the information that we have approximately 500 beds available in Michigan.” Paez said California was one of a number of agencies the company has contacted about renting beds at the Baldwin facility, but he refused to name the agencies, stating that the discussions are ongoing. Bill must pass for facility to house out-of-state inmates That legislation, House Bill 5800, would allow GEO to use the facility for uses other than Michigan prisoners. Currently, state law mandates MYCF can only be used to house Michigan youth offenders. Hansen’s bill would allow GEO to house detainees or inmates from other local, state, or federal agencies. HB 5800 passed the House June 15 and the Senate Judiciary Committee June 22 and could go before the full Senate Wednesday. “We’re back in session on Wednesday, and we’re going to try to get it through,” said John Lazet, chief of staff for Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Our goal is Wednesday.” Both Gov. Granholm and the DOC are supportive of the bill. Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposes the bill because she disagrees with private prison operations and because the bill would allow other state agencies to ship prisoners out of state. “I don’t agree with (any state) transporting prisoners over state lines,” Brater said. “I’m not going to support importing prisoners to Michigan.”

May 26, 2006 TV 7 & 4
The future of the Geo Youth Prison near Baldwin is again an unknown after hopes to reopen the facility are dashed by the swipe of Governor Granholm's pen. Granholm vetoed a bill designed to house out of state inmates at the former prison. The Geo Prison was closed in November as a cost cutting measure by the state. Operators say they were hopeful of reopening and recouping some of the money that was invested when the prison was built back in 1990. Last week a state lawmaker introduced the bill that would allow the prison to house inmates from outside of the state. The prison was one of Lake County's largest employers.

May 18, 2006 Cadillac News
Eight months after Gov. Jennifer Granholm closed the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility, Lake County's largest employer, the community is struggling to adjust to its losses and move forward. The only privately managed prison in Michigan, Granholm pulled MYCF's funding last September in efforts to balance the state's budget. MYCF employed more than 200 full-time workers. Measuring the full impact of the closure is complex, according to Jim Truxton, village president, but during the winter the community has seen businesses close, declining school enrollment and an increase in foreclosures. Major housing and hotel development projects remain frozen. “We've moved back 15 to 20 years in our economic plan,” Truxton said. Up to now, legislation has prohibited the $37 million, 550-bed facility from being converted from a youth prison to other correctional uses. State Representative for the 100th District Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, introduced legislation last March that will allow owners, The GEO Group, Inc., to house inmates from other local, state and federal agencies. “We're trying to open it up,” he said. Hansen anticipates the legislation to pass through legislature by early this summer. The impact of the shutdown is more far reaching than anticipated, according to Hansen. He pointed to infrastructure installed primarily to support MYCF and paid for with a bond. Without revenues from the prison, the water/sewer system has financially drained the township. “Lake County has always been poor,” he said. “Now they're poor and in debt.”

May 12, 2006 Ludington Daily News
The GEO Group has paid its taxes — more than $921,000 in base taxes — on the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility for Fiscal Year 2005, as it was obligated to do, according to Township Supervisor Tony Gagliardo. GEO also paid more than $15,000 in personal property taxes for the same year. The taxable value of the facility is listed at more than $18.9 million, while the true cash value is set at $40,912,283. While GEO’s assessment may change because the facility is not in use, Gagliardo said the township will consider that issue if the company requests a reassessment. “We’ll decide that when the time comes,” Gagliardo said. In the meantime, the township remains “status quo,” nearly seven months after the state canceled its contract with the GEO prison, he said. Gagliardo said he’s not had any contact with the company in about six months, but hopes something will come along to put the facility back in use and employ people again. Bill Cole, maintenance supervisor at the GEO facility, has maintained his job at the prison since it closed. He and a crew of three people are overseeing the physical plant. “We’re trying to keep everything running,” Cole said, “but there’s no major change. We’re just maintaining and painting. We’re here to keep vandalism away.” Cole said he’s not heard anything from the corporate offices about any new contracts, but state law states only Michigan teen offenders can be housed at the facility. A bill introduced by State Rep. Goeff Hansen, House Bill 5800, would allow GEO to pursue contracts to house inmates from federal and out-of-state agencies. In the meantime, the township is left with a water system too large for the amount of users it serves. The prison was the system’s major user until Gov. Jennifer Granholm line-item vetoed funding for the prison in September. Every day, the township releases water from the water tank because the current use does not provide sufficient turnover. The township is looking into installing a new pump better suited to the demand, Gagliardo said. They hoped to get state help with the cost of the pump — estimated at $40-45,000 — but the Michigan Economic Development Council said they could not help with that cost, Gagliardo said. MEDC said they might be able to help with other projects.

March 13, 2006 South Florida Business Journal
The Boca Raton-based correctional and detention management firm said it lost $807,000, or 8 cents a share, on revenue of $164.87 million for the 13 weeks ended Jan. 1. For the 14 weeks ended Jan. 2, 2005, Geo (NYSE: GGI) said it earned $5.22 million, or 53 cents a share, on revenue of $161.59 million. The most recent fourth quarter earnings include an $8.5 million, or 85-cents-a-share, international tax benefit related to certain tax law changes in Australia and South Africa, as well as a $500,000, or 5-cents-a-share, after-tax gain from discontinued operations including the sale of Geo's 72-bed Atlantic Shores Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Jan. 1. These gains were offset by a $12.6 million, or $1.26-a-share, after-tax non-cash impairment charge related to Geo's 500-bed Michigan Correctional Facility, which closed Oct. 14; a $200,000, or 2-cents-a-share, after-tax charge related to one-time costs associated with the reclassification of certain job positions from exempt to non-exempt employees; and $600,000, or 6 cents a share, in one-time start-up expenses related new contracts with the Indiana Department of Correction to manage the 2,416-bed New Castle Correctional Facility in New Castle, Ind., and with the New Mexico Department of Health to manage the 230-bed Fort Bayard Medical Center in Fort Bayard, N.M. The Michigan charge was actually smaller than the $21 million charge the company had predicted it would pay for losing its contract there. The facility closed, Oct. 14, after the state of Michigan canceled Geo's management contract. The company has since sued, alleging wrongful termination of the lease. For the year, Geo said it earned $7 million, or 70 cents a share, on revenue of $612.9 million. The year before - which included an extra week, giving it 53 weeks - the company said it earned $16.81 million, or $1.73 a share, on revenue of $593.99 million.

January 27, 2006 Yahoo
The GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE: GGI - News; "GEO") announced today that it will incur a non-cash impairment charge of $21.0 million, or $1.27 earnings per share, during the fourth quarter of 2005 related to GEO's 480-bed Michigan Correctional Facility (the "Facility"). The Facility was closed on October 14, 2005 following the cancellation by the State of Michigan of GEO's management contract. In addition, GEO's facility lease agreement (the "Lease") was cancelled by the Governor of the State of Michigan effective December 3, 2005. As previously disclosed, GEO has filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan for the wrongful termination of the Lease. The Village of Baldwin (the "Village") and Webber Township (the "Township") joined GEO in the lawsuit and petitioned the court for a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the State of Michigan from canceling the Lease and the management contract for the Facility. On November 21, 2005, the court denied the motion of the Village and Township for a Temporary Restraining Order. As a result primarily of the court's denial of the Village and Township's motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, GEO has determined that the estimate of the future cash flow for the Facility would be insufficient to cover the Facility's current book value. The Facility is currently valued on GEO's balance sheet at $34.0 million. GEO believes that its lawsuit against the State of Michigan is meritorious and intends to continue to vigorously assert its rights in the lawsuit.

November 30, 2005 Ludington Daily News
The GEO Group has hit a bump in the road in its lawsuit against the State of Michigan after the closing of the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility near Baldwin. Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James Giddings last week denied a motion by GEO seeking injunctive relief to keep the prison open - and to keep the state paying the lease - during court proceedings regarding the lawsuit. The state will have to pay for leasing the facility only through Friday, saving $5.4 million that would have paid for the lease of a now empty prison. Judge Giddings rejected GEO's claim that the lease could only be broken by action of the Legislature, said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. "The governor took out her pen and struck out this appropriation," Giddings was quoted as saying in a Gongwer News Service report. "Funds for this use in this lease have been prohibited. I don't see how the plaintiffs can prevail.

November 20, 2005 South Bend Tribune
Brian Smith is the kind of person who officials in this small northwestern Michigan town had in mind when they agreed in 1996 to be the home of a new, high-security prison for young offenders. The 37-year-old corrections officer had been working in a privately-run Pennsylvania prison when he and his wife decided to move out of Philadelphia to find a better area to raise their young children. He took a job at the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility and bought a home down the road from where he worked. But the 480-bed prison run by GEO Group Inc. closed last month and Smith now drives 140 miles a day to and from his new job at a state prison in Muskegon. "I wish I could go back home now," Smith said as he stood outside the local Michigan Works office where he was getting information about state aid for his higher gasoline costs. What state and local officials didn't count on was fewer violent young offenders than projected. Young inmates who had been in the Lake County facility were moved to other prisons last month. The state's prison capacity is just short of 49,000 and isn't expected to hit capacity until March 2008, according to Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan. Tracy Huling, a consultant based in upstate New York who has researched the economies of areas near prisons, said the situation in Baldwin shows short-term thinking by both state and local officials. She said the two sides should have been working together to determine whether there were other options for the prison. "States have been creating penal colonies for years and there are consequences," she said. "It's understandable to see how folks get into this situation, but someone has to take the leadership role and say there's got to be a better way." Local officials met with Gov. Jennifer Granholm last month to talk about the future of the area. Since then, they have been working on a list of projects they think would help alleviate the loss of the prison. Although they want to diversify their economy, their top recommendation to the governor is reopening the prison. Without it, they said the area will lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue and fees for the area school district, local governments and the water and sewer systems, which were built to accommodate the large facility. They also said they may have to shut down the water system and drain the water tower because there won't be enough flow to keep the water from becoming stagnant or freezing in the winter. Despite their efforts, reopening the prison appears unlikely. The state budget remains tight and the state is being sued over its decision to end its lease with the GEO Group by the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, the Village of Baldwin and Webber Township.

November 16, 2005 Ludington Daily News
All but 20 of the corrections officers formerly employed at the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility - 190 of 220 - have been hired into the state Department of Corrections operations, according to DOC spokesman Russ Marlan. Lake County residents were given top preference for jobs at the Pugsley Correctional Facility in Kingsley, the closest state-run facility to Baldwin, Marlan said. Other officers went to the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee County and to the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon. The youth prison was a 480-bed, privately owned and operated prison filled with Michigan youth offenders in Lake County's Webber Township. Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed funding for the prison from the state budget this fall, citing what she referred to as inefficiencies and the desire to save taxpayers money. Opponents have countered, saying the facility was fulfilling its contract, and that it was one of the state's most efficient Level V prisons. GEO filed a lawsuit against the state charging that only the Legislature could cancel the state's lease on the building. The company is contending that the governor's veto canceled the contract. GEO's lawsuit said only the Legislature could have pulled the funding for the building lease. Both the House and Senate lawmakers found funding for the prison within the DOC budget. The governor line-item vetoed that funding, and the Legislature signed that budget, which Marlan said constitutes the necessary "legislative action." William Nowling, spokesman for GEO, said the company is seeking injunctive relief - in essence a temporary restraining order - to prevent the state from stopping payment. "It would be a victory for the community," Nowling said, "but it doesn't bring the prisoners back." Nowling said an injunction would keep the building open for other prisoners, either from the state or other entities. "This is only the first stage of the lawsuit," Nowling said. "We invested and put up this $40 million facility and signed the contract so the state couldn't up and run." Webber Township Supervisor Tony Gagliardo said that the township cannot wait much longer. "With our water tank, we need to keep it from freezing," Gagliardo said. "It needs to turn over every seven days." And with only minimal users, there is not enough demand for the water to ensure that rate of turnover, Gagliardo said. The prison was the major user of the water system. Either the township will be forced to shut the water off and drain the tower or they will have to install a pressure tank and pump and erect a building to house the pump, according to Gagliardo. He said adding the new pump would cost upwards of $160,000. The pump and tank would cost the township $80-100,000, with the building adding approximately $40-60,000. Plus, the township would also have to heat the building. "That's not what we wanted to use the (township's) money for," Gagliardo said. Nowling said GEO is actively looking for a new set of inmates to fill the Baldwin area facility. "We're marketing it the best we can," Nowling said. "The problem is the location (in rural Michigan) and that the facility is a Level V maximum security prison. That has limitations." GEO thinks there are several options for the building, including: o The state could renew a contract with GEO to house Level V adult inmates. o GEO could maintain the building and lease it to the state, who could house and staff the prison. o GEO could get prisoners from outside of Michigan to fill the prison. o The state could buy the prison from GEO. "We'd like to keep it within the Michigan system," Nowling said.

November 8, 2005 Detroit Free Press
Republican state legislators would have a hard time explaining why they stuck taxpayers with a $5.5-million bill to lease an empty prison. But they may have to if they fail to amend this year's budget and protect the state against a lawsuit by the private company that ran the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin. Geo Group Inc., along with the Village of Baldwin and Webber Township, sued the state last week for wrongfully terminating its contract, after Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed money to keep the prison open. By closing an unnecessary and inefficient prison, Granholm saved the state $18 million a year -- $12.5 million for operating the facility and $5.5 million for the building lease. The Michigan Department of Corrections already has transferred the inmates at the 480-bed facility, and the department has found jobs elsewhere in the system for the nearly 200 employees. Even so, Geo claims the state owes it $5.5 million in rent because its contract says only the Legislature can cancel the agreement. The state is on solid legal ground, but anything can happen in court. Legislators can make sure the state prevails by amending the current budget bill, or passing a separate bill, to prohibit payment of the lease. Unfortunately, Republicans appear more interested in one-upping the governor than acting in the people's best interest. "We have no plans to save the governor from herself," Ari Adler, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said last month. Protecting the state against a costly lawsuit isn't about saving the governor -- it's about saving the strapped state and taxpayers millions of dollars. Legislators should not play politics with this issue and force the state to pay for an empty prison.

November 4, 2005 Psychiatry News
After a watchdog group sues a Michigan private youth prison over inadequate care for inmates, the prison is closed due to budget reasons. Despite opposition from Republicans, Michigan's youth prison was closed last month when Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) announced the first budget bills for the 2005-06 fiscal year. The move helped trim a projected deficit of $770 million. The prison closing was one of the most hotly contested items in the budget. "This costly facility is not needed and was originally constructed to house violent young offenders, but the need for this facility never materialized," the governor said. Her office noted that the legislative auditor general said less-expensive beds can be used to house the teen offenders, saving the state $17.8 million a year. Earlier this year the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service Inc. filed a lawsuit against State Department of Corrections Director Patricia Casuso, Michigan Youth Correction Facility Warden Frank Elo, and the GEO Group Inc., a Florida-based, prison-management company that owns and runs the state's private prison at Baldwin, claiming the prison was mismanaged. After the state had given the company a 60-day notice that it was terminating the lease, the GEO Group made a last-minute offer to cut the cost of the state's $18.8 million four-year contract by at least $2 million a year, an indication of how profitable private prisons are. Now the state faces a lawsuit over the lease for the privately built facility, and prison supporters say the fight is not over. The Michigan Youth Correctional Facility was built in 1999 under former Gov. John Engler (R), who promised good-paying jobs to residents in the poverty-stricken Lake County region; it was the state's first privately run, for-profit prison. Soon after it opened, parents of teenaged boys convicted as adults alleged that their children had suffered physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the maximum-security prison. Their allegations were backed up by a watchdog group. "Even though we anticipated that the facility was to be closed regardless, we went ahead and filed the suit because [staff] were not providing the proper services to the kids," Tom Masseau, public policy specialist with the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, told Psychiatric News. The suit accused the prison of neglecting inmates' physical and mental health and failing to provide enough trained counselors for those suffering from mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. Masseau said there was only one full-time social worker for 483 inmates. He added that low-level offenders were housed with convicted rapists and murderers. Many inmates were kept in isolation for days at a time without recreation and as punishment for minor offenses were limited to a few showers a week. "Sixty-one suicide attempts were reported between October 2004 and March 2005," Masseau said. "This is a significant increase, because for all of 2003, there were only 18 suicide attempts," he added. Masseau attributed the suicide attempts to the lack of proper treatment for inmates, many of whom suffered from mental illness and developmental disabilities. "Now that the facility is closed, we will be monitoring what happens to these kids to make sure that the state provides the appropriate services for them," he said. The GEO Group said it will vigorously contest the allegations and questioned the plaintiffs' motivation and timing. It warned it will pursue and enforce any remedies under the law against the Michigan Advocacy and Protection Service. Management and Budget Department spokesperson Bridget Medina had no immediate comment on the lease issue and what options the state was reviewing. Many people in the mental health and human service communities agreed that it was time Michigan dissolved its relationship with the GEO Group, a worldwide operation that runs prisons in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. "I fully expected Gov. Granholm to end the contract, and that was sound public policy," Mark Reinstein, Ph.D., CEO, and president of the Mental Health Association in Michigan, told Psychiatric News. "The mental health and human service communities had serious concerns about the efficacy and performance of this facility." Psychiatrist Michele Reid, M.D., medical director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency and a corresponding member of APA's Council on Member and District Branch Relations, noted that the Mental Health Commission had received testimony from many families and deliberated extensively on mental health services to persons in correctional settings for both juveniles and adults. "We are elated that the youth prison is closed. It's a scandal that it was ever opened and continued to be run in such a way that could do so much damage to so many children," Susan McParland, director of the Michigan Association for Children With Emotional Disorders, told Psychiatric News. "Our organization had urged that the Baldwin facility, or so-called `punk prison,' be closed.... There was no purpose for this facility. As advocates for kids, we know that detention in general does a lot of harm to children who have emotional disorders, and this facility was the `belly of the beast' so to speak." State Sen. Michelle McManus (R), whose Lake Leelanau district includes the prison, claims the suit sucker-punched residents of a county that often leads the state in unemployment and poverty. "Just when it seems things can't get any darker for residents of Lake County, the groups that are against the prison found one more stunt to pull," she said. "This suit was clearly timed for maximum political impact." Republican legislators who favor privatization wanted the funding for the prison to continue and disputed the claims that adult prisons have enough beds to accommodate the youthful inmates who were shipped to adult prisons beginning October 1. Corrections spokesperson Leo Lalonde said 320 prisoners would be transferred to the Thumb Correctional Facility, with others scattered throughout the system. Sexual assaults at juvenile prisons occur 10 times more often than at adult prisons, according to information released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in July.

November 4, 2005 Cadillac News
The operators of the private youth prison near Baldwin sued the state Thursday, claiming wrongful termination of the company's lease. The village of Baldwin and Webber Township joined The GEO Group, Inc. in filing the suit in Ingham County court against the Michigan Department of Corrections and Michigan Department of Management and Budget. Inmates at the 480-bed facility have been transferred to other facilities and the facility's nearly 200 employees have been offered other state jobs. Job loss is only one problem locals face as a result of the prison closing. A water system built in Webber Township for MYCF supplies only one other user, a small office building. The system has become a costly white elephant. "It's bad enough that we're losing revenues," said Township Supervisor Tony Gagliardo. "But it's costing us to keep it open." A mechanical failure of a water pump on Nov. 1 is adding to township expenses, but officials aim to keep the system operational to support measures to reopen operations. Local government officials say state officials under former GOP Gov. John Engler made promises to persuade them to allow the prison in their community, including a long-term commitment by the state to use the prison after it opened in 1999.

November 3, 2005 AP
The operators of a private youth prison near Baldwin sued the state Thursday, claiming wrongful termination of the company's lease. Inmates at the 480-bed facility about 65 miles north of Grand Rapids already have been transferred to other facilities and nearly 200 employees have been offered other state jobs. Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed money that would have kept the prison open in the budget year that started Oct. 1. The veto saved the state $18 million by ending the state's contract with the GEO Group Inc., the private owners of the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility. GEO, along with the Village of Baldwin and Webber Township, filed suit in an Ingham County court against the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Michigan Department of Management and Budget. The company, based in Boca Raton, Fla., said the state can't end the lease because there was no specific prohibition against using appropriated funds to pay the lease in a Department of Corrections budget recently approved by state lawmakers. But Granholm said the facility costs too much to run and houses few of the violent young offenders it was meant to hold. The state sent economic development workers to Baldwin to help local officials look for other business opportunities for the city and county, one of the state's poorest.

October 7, 2005 Detroit Free Press
Republicans are charging that Gov. Jennifer Granholm sent the wrong message by canceling the state's contract for an unneeded, privately run youth prison in Baldwin. In fact, her message was exactly right. Granholm's budget veto last week, ending the contract with the for-profit Geo Group, will save taxpayers $18 million a year. Thanks to new efforts to control the state's inmate population, Corrections now has room -- roughly 680 spare beds -- to send the 480 teenage boys at Youth Correctional Facility to other prisons. Most will go to an area separate from adults at Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer. Instead of supporting this sensible move to save money, Republicans are on the attack, including a tasteless reference to "Hurricane Jennifer" by Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. The GOP has argued that closing Youth Correctional Facility would cost jobs, as if that were a reason to keep open a prison. Besides, the state has pledged to transfer all of the facility's 150 corrections officers into vacant positions at other prisons -- where they'll make more money and receive better benefits. Michigan has closed several state-run prisons in the last four years, including the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia and Western Wayne Correctional Facility in Plymouth. Granholm was not picking on the privately run Baldwin prison. Legally, Michigan could cancel its management contract, with 90-days notice, if the prison is no longer needed. Geo was notified June 30. Republicans, who talk a lot about government waste, should think twice before making the governor's veto a political issue. Granholm sent the right message to businesses, citizens and taxpayers: During a budget crisis, Michigan will not maintain costly and unnecessary prisons to subsidize jobs or appease politicians.

October 3, 2005 South Florida Business Journal
The Geo Group said it has lost a contract in Michigan. Accordingly, the company has shifted its fourth quarter and year-end guidance. Available previous guidance did not account for Geo's (NYSE: GGI) plan to merge with Correctional Services Corp., so those numbers are no longer comparable to the new guidance. The new fourth quarter prediction is revenue of $167 million to $174 million and earnings per share from 31 cents to 34 cents. For the year, the new revenue range is $725 million to $745 million and the new earnings per share forecast is from $1.70 to $1.80. Boca Raton-based Geo had predicted as early as July it might lose its work with the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility. The correctional and detention management company said it is in the process of determining whether an impairment charge related to the closure of the facility is required and, if so, the appropriate timing. Media sources in Michigan have indicated the state expects to save $18 million by ending its contract with Geo and also plans to offer state jobs to the soon-to-be-shuttered facility's workers.

October 1, 2005 Cadillac News
Gov. Jennifer Granholm's decision Friday to veto funding for the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Lake County is a devastating blow to the economic future of one of Michigan's poorest counties. The veto ends the state's 20-year contract with the facility's management firm the GEO Group, Inc. The State Budget Office defended the governor's move. Closing MYCF is expected to save about $17.8 million from the Department of Corrections $1.88 billion budget. "We found a significant budget shortfall in Michigan that forced us to make difficult choices," said Greg Bird, director of communications for the State Budget Office. "These prisoners can be housed in alternative facilities at a savings to the taxpayer."

September 29, 2005 Michigan Live
More than 200 workers at the state's only private prison will be given top priority for state job openings if Gov. Jennifer Granholm, as expected, vetoes funding for the facility. Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, said Wednesday that human resources and civil service workers are planning to meet with Michigan Youth Correctional Facility employees in Baldwin next week to talk about state employment. The department also has plans to begin moving some 470 prisoners to state-owned facilities if the $17.8 million for the prison is vetoed.

September 23, 2005 Ludington Daily News
Gov. Jennifer Granholm still plans to veto funding for the Baldwin prison, Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman from her office, said this morning. The Department of Corrections budget — which passed the Legislature with funding for the prison intact — is expected to reach the governor’s desk soon, at least by the start of the state’s new fiscal year, Oct. 1. As Lake County residents await Granholm’s official action regarding the future of the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility, several of those residents who received a letter from the governor were left scratching their heads over portions of that letter. The wording was confusing, acknowledged Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, but the result is the same. The DOC still proposes shutting the facility down to save taxpayers money, Marlan said.

September 22, 2005 Detroit Free Press
Political pressure is mounting on Gov. Jennifer Granholm to back off on closing the inefficient and unnecessary Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin. That's bad news, because standing up to such pressure is not what Granholm does best. This time, though, she needs to straighten her spine and do what she knows is best for Michigan: End the $18-mllion-a-year contract with the private, for-profit Geo Group to operate the so-called punk prison. For its size, the youth prison is one of Michigan's most costly and inefficient. Moreover, the maximum-security prison has been criticized for neglecting health and education needs and for housing mostly lower-security offenders. Even if those problems could be fixed, the 6-year-old prison is no longer needed -- and maybe never was. The expected wave of young so-called superpredators never happened. The Department of Corrections has done a better job of managing its population in recent years. Michigan was one of the few states to lower its prison population in 2003 and 2004, and Corrections has other initiatives to contain costly prison growth. The state now has room to transfer the 480 teenage boys to strictly segregated areas within adult institutions. Republicans have argued that closing the youth prison would hurt Baldwin's economy, as if prisons are employment agencies. Like other government programs, prisons exist to provide necessary services, not subsidize jobs. Corrections' 2005-06 budget includes funding to run the prison, but Granholm has said she would veto the money. Unfortunately, Republicans still have reason to hope, because Granholm has backed down in the past. This time she should not. Michigan can't afford to keep prisons open simply to provide jobs or appease politicians.

September 14, 2005 AP
Young offenders at a private prison in Lake County are not spending enough time in school and those who have mental illnesses and developmental disabilities aren't getting adequate help, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday. The Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service Inc. filed the lawsuit against state Department of Corrections Director Patricia Caruso, Michigan Youth Correctional Facility warden Frank Elo and the GEO Group Inc., a Florida-based prison-management company that owns and runs the prison. The group filed the lawsuit in federal court in Grand Rapids. The group wants the court to order improvements at the youth prison near Baldwin. Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service is going ahead with the lawsuit although it appears the state will end its contract for the prison. Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm likely will veto funding for the prison in the budget for the fiscal year that begins in a few weeks as a way to balance the budget, despite Republican support for keeping the funding in place. In the lawsuit, the advocacy group says young inmates attend class for as little as three hours a week despite a contract that requires 30 hours of weekly instruction for inmates with at least an eighth-grade education. Isolated inmates and those in detention do not receive any instruction, although they are required to receive some individually, the lawsuit said. Low-level offenders at the youth prison are housed with inmates convicted of rape and murder because of the facility's high-security classification, making it more likely they will "find themselves the victims of prisoner assaults," the group said in a written statement. The advocacy group also said more trained counselors are needed at the prison to help many of the young inmates who have developmental disabilities and mental illnesses, said Stacy Hickox, an attorney for the group. The prison has one full-time social worker for 480 inmates, the group said.

September 9, 2005 AP
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Republican legislative leaders have agreed on the state's spending plan for the fiscal year that begins in less than a month, a spokesman for the Senate majority leader said Friday. Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema was expected to lay out the details of the roughly $40 billion budget at an 11 a.m. news conference, spokesman John Long said. Long said the deal includes funding for the Newberry Correctional Facility and Camp Manistique in the Upper Peninsula and a privately run youth prison in Lake County. Granholm and Republicans have disagreed sharply over the corrections budget. Granholm had proposed ending the state's contract with the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin while Republicans had proposed closing the Newberry facility.

September 1, 2005 Ludington Daily News
State Rep. Geoff Hansen, R-Hart, and U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, take issue with Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s contention that the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin, operated by GEO Group, Inc., is not efficient and they are urging her not to cancel the 20-year contract. The fear is if the contract is canceled, GEO will then close the prison and put the about 229 full time employees there out of work. The prison’s operating budget for 2004 was $13.4 million. Granholm, Friday in Ludington, stated the Michigan Auditor General identified the prison as the least efficient in the state and said the offenders in the 480 beds there could be absorbed into Michigan Department of Corrections facilities. Hansen said he understands the Auditor General report differently. He said if judged against other Level 5 prisons in Michigan, it is the second most efficient prison of that type in the state. He said the Auditor General was suggesting that the contract be renegotiated to allow the facility to operate at a lower level, thus reducing costs. Rep. Hansen was more blunt. “If this should happen and the state pulls the contract, the state better have a plan for receivership for Baldwin Schools, Lake County and Webber Township. They’ve been poor forever. They went out on a limb. They have a lot of debt in the infrastructure,” he said. The facility pays $1 million in taxes, including $400,000 to Baldwin schools.

July 12, 2005 Biz Journal
In a development the company said could hurt it financially, Geo Group said it may lose a contract in Michigan.  The Boca Raton-based prison management firm said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it received written notice June 30 from the State of Michigan Department of Management and Budget stating the state of Michigan intends to cancel Geo's (NYSE: GGI) management contract to operate the 480-bed Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Mich. The cancellation would be effective Sept. 30.  Geo currently operates the Michigan facility via to a management contract with the Michigan Department of Corrections. The company did not give dollar amounts associated with the deal.  Yet, Geo said as a result of it efforts and efforts by the locally affected community, the Michigan House and Senate have approved separate budget bills that include funding for the Michigan Facility for Michigan's next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.  "The two budget bills will now go to a conference committee for reconciliation and then to the governor for approval or rejection," Geo said.   However, the company cautioned there can be no assurances the efforts to continue funding for the Michigan facility beyond Sept. 30 will be successful.   "In the event funding for the Michigan facility ends on Sept. 30, 2005, Geo's financial condition and results of operations would be materially adversely affected," the company warned.   Shares closed down 22 cents to $25.45. The 52-week high was $32.70 on Feb. 8. The 52-week low was $17.02 on July 26.

July 7, 2005 Yahoo
On June 30, 2005, The GEO Group, Inc. ("GEO") received written notice from the State of Michigan Department of Management and Budget that the State of Michigan intends to cancel GEO's management contract to operate the 480-bed Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan (the "Michigan Facility"), effective September 30, 2005. GEO operates the Michigan Facility pursuant to a management contract with the Michigan Department of Corrections (the "DOC").  As a result of efforts by GEO and the locally affected community, the Michigan House and Senate have approved separate budget bills that include funding for the Michigan Facility for Michigan's next fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2005. The two budget bills will now go to a conference committee for reconciliation and then to the Governor for approval or rejection. There can be no assurances that the efforts to continue funding for the Michigan Facility beyond September 30, 2005 will be successful. In the event funding for the Michigan Facility ends on September 30, 2005, GEO's financial condition and results of operations would be materially adversely affected.

June 26, 2005 Detroit News
LANSING -- State leaders will mothball a northern Michigan prison this year to save money, but which facility to vacate has emerged as an issue pitting Republicans against Democrats and two struggling counties against each other. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and state Corrections Director Pat Caruso have targeted a Michigan prison for teen offenders, near Baldwin, between Traverse City and Grand Rapids. They estimate a savings of $7.5 million next year by moving its inmates elsewhere. Republican lawmakers, citing the economic blow the impoverished area would suffer with the loss of 230 corrections officer jobs, have rejected that idea. They want to shutter an Upper Peninsula prison in a converted state mental hospital at Newberry and a Manistique prison camp, estimating that would save $12 million.  Budget legislation closing the Upper Peninsula prison and camp "will not pass my desk," Granholm pledged last week during a rally of U.P. residents and corrections workers. The governor accused lawmakers of partisan maneuvering that ignores an analysis showing the privately run Baldwin prison is too costly. "Republicans want to keep the Baldwin prison open in defiance of their own auditor general's report," she said. The state auditor general reported Michigan's contract guarantees the prison owner, GEO Group, a rate of $75.81 a day per inmate. That is a higher cost than all but four of the other 37 prisons in the corrections system, according to the report. But Republican Rep. Jack Brandenburg of Harrison Township, head of a House panel that debated the issue in April, said the plan to close the state's only privately operated prison "sends a terrible message" to firms that want to do business here.  Democrats accuse the Republican majority of voting to protect prison jobs in Republican territory while sacrificing such jobs in the more-Democratic central U.P.

June 15, 2005 Detroit Free Press
The fight over which state prisons to close has become ridiculously political. Members of the state House, against all logic, approved closing Newberry Correctional Facility and Camp Manistique in the Upper Peninsula and keeping open the expensive and unnecessary Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin. The state Senate ought to reject this plan. For its size, the so-called punk prison is one of Michigan's most costly -- and small wonder. It's run by the private, for-profit GEO Group Inc., whose CEO was paid $2.2 million last year to run a prison system that's considerably smaller than Michigan's. The state's corrections director, Patricia Caruso, earns $130,000 a year. Of more importance, the youth prison, which opened in 1999, is no longer needed -- and maybe never was. The expected wave of so-called super predators never happened. The maximum-security youth prison, with gun towers and 16-foot razor wire fences, has been criticized for neglecting health and educational needs and for housing mostly lower-security offenders. The state's nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General recommended reconsidering the state's contract with the prison. Corrections professionals, in the best position to evaluate prison needs, want to shut it down. Republicans have argued that closing the youth prison would cost the Baldwin area, a Republican district, needed jobs. That's hard to deny. But the argument cuts both ways. Closing Newberry would equally harm that area's economy. The larger point is that government is not an employment agency. It exists to provide necessary services. Michigan can and should close a prison. Politics aside, the best choice for the state Senate is ending the contract with Michigan Youth Correctional Facility.

June 3, 2005 The Evening News
Though clearly worried, a Luce County official today said the threatened closing of state prisons in Newberry and Manistique is hauntingly familiar territory for local people. On Thursday, a State Senate subcommittee voted 3-2 to close the Newberry prison and its subsidiary, Camp Manistique, in a money saving move. The move stunned state Corrections Department officials, who earlier recommended closure of a privately operated prison in Baldwin. Terry Stark, chairman of the Luce County Board, today said the surprise move would be "devastating" for Luce County, which is still struggling nearly 20 years after the state mental hospital pulled out of Newberry. The unexpected prison closure switch followed a well publicized campaign by Lake County partisans to preserve the much smaller and troubled youth correctional facility in Baldwin. A recent state audit of prisons ranked that private prison among the highest cost prisons in the state on a per-prisoner basis. Much larger than the Baldwin prison, Newberry houses about 1,100 inmates. The prison and the subsidiary Manistique camp employ 345 people, many of them local. A critical element in a recent economic revival in chronically depressed Luce County, the Newberry prison is the county's largest employer. The vote to switch Newberry for the Baldwin prison followed strict party lines; the three Republicans on the subcommittee voted for the move and the two Democrats voted against. The apparent political partisanship that figured in the voting in Lansing pits two rural counties in similar economic straits against each other. Baldwin and Lake County are represented by a Republican. Newberry is represented by first-term State Representative Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard). State Sen. Mike Prusi (D-Ishpeming) charged the subcommittee Republicans with playing politics with the prison-closing vote. "I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues would play politics with people's jobs and the public's safety," Prusi said in a statement.

May 27, 2005 AP
A new state audit says prison officials should consider whether to continue sending young felons to a private prison in northern Michigan because it is one of the most expensive prisons in the state. The report released Friday by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General likely will help efforts by Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration to close the facility in Lake County's Baldwin to save money in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The audit said the state Department of Corrections didn't efficiently use state money by housing youthful prisons offenders at the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility. The report covers records from October 2001 to November 2004. State auditors and the Corrections Department estimate the state will save $7.5 million a year by canceling the lease with The Geo Group Inc., a Boca Raton, Fla.-based prison-management company that owns and operates the prison. A portion of that savings would come from moving inmates between 17 and 19 to other facilities in the state, auditor said. The state's contract with Geo guarantees $75.81 a day for each inmate at the prison, the audit said. Only four of the state's 37 other prisons had a higher per prisoner cost, it said. The audit also pointed out a number of security concerns. Prison officials were not making sure employees were randomly searched as they came and went and cells were checked by officers, both required by the Department of Corrections, it said.

May 23, 2005 Detroit Free Press
Deep in the scrubby jack pine forests of Lake County, an unlikely battle is brewing over the state's so-called punk prison. At issue is whether to close the maximum-security prison for 484 teenage boys convicted as adults. Most communities might be glad to see it go, but most aren't Lake County. Perched too far inland to benefit from Lake Michigan's charms, the county often leads the state in unemployment and poverty. So, in the 1990s, when then-Gov. John Engler came courting with an offer of well-paying jobs in the state's first privately run, for-profit prison, many embraced it. Since its opening in 1999, though, parents of inmates have alleged physical, sexual and mental abuse at the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin. A watchdog agency has accused the Florida-based GEO Group Inc., which owns and operates the prison, of neglecting inmates' health, education and rehabilitation. One sign of trouble, critics say, is the high number of suicide attempts from last October through March. Now, Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to yank the state's $18.8-million contract with GEO Group to help trim a projected deficit that could top $770 million. The inmates -- many of whom are from metro Detroit -- would be shipped to adult prisons by Oct. 1. Critics of the prison, including parents, back the governor. This month, an independent inspector hired by the state substantiated eight violations from myriad complaints made by Michigan Protection & Advocacy about the prison's educational programs. Among other things, the prison was faulted for failing to get inmates' prior school records to determine what services they need. "I really can't comment on that report yet because we're still formulating our response to what their findings were," Allen Haigh, the prison's deputy warden for programs, said last week. The contract calls for providing 30 hours of education a week for those testing at or below an eighth-grade level. Guidelines aren't set for other inmates. Haigh said students usually attend classes for 2 1/2 hours. Kristen Whaley, whose 18-year-old son Kevin Waller began serving a 5- to 15-year sentence in July on invasion, larceny and weapons charges, said he has told her he's in school only about an hour a day. Critics say the prison has imposed overly harsh punishments. Michigan Protection & Advocacy attorney Stacy Hickox said a few prisoners have been kept in administrative segregation -- the equivalent of solitary confinement -- for hundreds of days. "People have become suicidal, in a real deep depression," Hickox said. She said one prisoner with mental-health needs spent 432 days in segregation since December 2003, and another spent 152 days there in 2003. Segregated inmates are allowed books and some personal items and are to get an hour of recreation a day, five days a week. The GEO Group's report to legislators showed 15 suicide attempts at the prison between July and September 2004, and 61 attempts from October 2004 to March 2005. Warden Frank Elo said each incident is addressed seriously. Michigan Protection & Advocacy investigators said they have verified allegations of beatings and rapes involving inmates, and verbal and other abuse claims against workers. Experts acknowledge cruelty and violence are part of any prison culture, and Elo said, "One of the realities is this occupation is prone to inmates that try to escape, assault each other or employees." Elo said that in July his facility achieved a near-perfect rating from the American Correctional Association, a national accreditation board that reviews Michigan's other prisons. Still, parents like Whaley complain that their children aren't safe at the prison, where lesser offenders aren't segregated from inmates convicted of violent crimes.

May 20, 2005 Detroit Free Press
Some Republicans in the state House who consider themselves fiscal watchdogs are making an ill-advised effort to keep open an expensive prison that Michigan doesn't need. Keeping the maximum-security prison in Baldwin running for 480 teenage boys would cost the state $18 million next year. The state can better serve its taxpayers and young offenders by shutting down the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility, effective Oct. 1, and transferring the prisoners to strictly segregated areas within adult institutions with room. The so-called punk prison, run by a private, for-profit company, opened six years ago to house the most violent young offenders, convicted as adults. But the wave of so-called super predators never happened. The maximum-security youth prison, with gun towers and 16-foot razor wire fences, has come under fire for neglecting health and educational needs and for housing mostly lower-security offenders. Some were not even convicted of violent crimes. Most in the youth prison are adults 18 or 19. They move into adult prisons at 20. No doubt, ending the state's contract with Geo Group Inc. to operate the prison, as Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed, will hurt the local economy. That's unfortunate, but government programs like prisons exist, primarily, to provide necessary services, not subsidize jobs. If the head of the Detroit Department of Transportation asked for more state aid to keep bus-driving jobs and boost Detroit's economy, he'd be run out of Lansing. The Department of Corrections must manage its prisoner population to control its costs. It has done so in the last few years, as one of the few states in the nation to report slight decreases in 2003 and 2004. The department has closed the Western Wayne Correctional Facility in Plymouth, the State Prison of Southern Michigan in Jackson and the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia. With 850 open beds, the state can move the 480 youth prisoners into the state system at no added cost. To help close a projected $770 million budget hole, the state ought to shut down its costly and unnecessary youth prison.

April 27, 2005 Michigan Live
Gov. Jennifer Granholm's proposal to shutter the state's only privately run corrections facility, the so-called punk prison in Baldwin, should be shelved, say privatization advocates who point to studies showing that competition from private companies saves the prison system money. But others, including two former Republican senators who voted for the private prison, argued at a legislative budget hearing Tuesday that there's no need for the maximum-security prison for teens because juvenile crime has dropped. At issue is $18.8 million the state hopes to save next year by ending a contract with the Geo Group of Boca Raton, Fla., for housing 480 offenders 19 and younger in the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Lake County. The prison, the state's only private facility, opened in 1999. Granholm has proposed breaking a lease with the Geo Group and absorbing the inmates into other state-run facilities. State officials say that juvenile crime has dropped and predictions about "juvenile predators" never materialized. Mel Grieshaber, executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization, said he was upset that he wasn't allowed to testify Tuesday, although he was given a short time to testify last week. Michigan Protection and Advocacy, which monitors inmates with disabilities, as well as families of two inmates who are upset at programs and safety at the prison, also were prepared to testify but weren't called upon. MP&A reported that inmates with special education needs are only getting three hours a week of instruction, instead of 30 hours a week called for in the state's contract.

February 27, 2005 Michigan Live
It will cost taxpayers about $40,000 apiece this year to incarcerate 300 minimum security teen-agers at the privately run, maximum security "Punk Prison" in Baldwin. That's $15,000 more than the cost of out-of-state undergraduate tuition at the University of Michigan. And $20,000 more than the cost of incarcerating low-risk inmates at a regular Michigan prison camp. When it was proposed by then-Gov. John Engler in 1996, Lake County's Michigan Youth Correctional Facility was billed as serving two purposes. Neither appears to have been meet. The first was to lock up behind tall fences and rows of razor wire hundreds of the most dangerous, predatory teen-agers in the state. As the Michigan Department of Corrections' own numbers suggest, the estimated number of such vicious predators terrorizing the streets was wildly inflated. A second point was to establish the principle of privatization in what had traditionally been a government responsibility to provide for the public safety. Nearly a decade after it was proposed, however, the youth lockup remains the Department of Corrections' only privately operated prison in the state. Given the high cost of operating the facility, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is proposing to end the state's $19 million annual contract with its owner and operator, Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. Not only is it bad prison policy to incarcerate hundreds of minimum security 18- and 19-year-old adults in a prison designed to house violent juveniles, it's a bad deal for taxpayers. The annual cost of running a low-level camp or prison is not $40,000 per inmate, but about $20,000. Since the state has the bed space to house the Baldwin prisoners in other, state-run facilities, that $19 million represents net savings.

May 2, 2004
Five years after Michigan opened its only private, for-profit prison -- the so-called punk prison in Baldwin -- critics charge that taxpayers are getting soaked for high-security costs when a majority of the young inmates could be housed in lower-security facilities.  The Michigan Youth Correctional Facility was part of a sweeping juvenile justice reform package approved in 1996 that promised "adult time for adult crime."The prison was constructed for maximum security, usually reserved for inmates who try to escape or commit new crimes while in prison. It comes complete with two manned gun towers and an armed response vehicle that circles the perimeter 24 hours a day.  But the hordes of violent juvenile offenders expected to fill up the facility have yet to materialize.  Less than one-third of the inmates there last week were Level 4 and 5, the highest security levels, while two-thirds were Levels 1 and 2, the lowest security levels. Those lower-security levels are assigned to inmates committing less serious crimes or with good behavior over time inside the prison.  "It's incredible that we are operating a system where there's only two ways to get to maximum security. One is by serious misbehavior in prison, and the other is by being a kid," said Barbara Levine, executive director of the Citizens Alliance of Prisons & Public Spending, a Michigan prison spending watchdog group.  Michigan will spend $19.27 million next year on the 480-bed prison.  A study by Levine's group found that most at the facility weren't even juveniles when they committed their crimes. CAPPS found that 58 percent of those in the prison in May 2003 were considered adults, defined as 17 or older, at the time of their offenses.  The facility was originally aimed at juveniles who commit crimes serious enough for judges and prosecutors to move them to the adult system.  The CAPPS report found seven first-degree murderers, 21 second-degree murderers, 108 armed robbers and 58 sex offenders in May 2003. It also showed inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes, including 32 home invasion sentences, 15 breaking and entering, 19 drug charges and 10 on car theft.  The prison is run by the Boca Raton, Fla.-based Geo Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp.    Elizabeth Arnovits, executive director of the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, said the state is simply filling up the prison with other teens when the wave of "superpredators" predicted in the mid-1990s didn't happen.  "Why are we paying this private provider for a Level 5 facility, when in fact they are having predominantly minor offenders who don't need that kind of security?" said Arnovits, whose group advocates for crime-prevention programs.  "The few that are Levels 5 that have committed terrible crimes need to be in a special place, but it doesn't have to be this hugely expensive prison."  Part of the effort in the 1990s was to move a portion of hard-core juveniles from expensive treatment beds in the state social services agencies to more of a punishment-oriented approach. The daily rate at the state's high-security juvenile facility, Maxey Training School in Whitmore Lake, is $327, according to the Family Independence Agency.  The wrong kids are going to the youth prison, said Jon Cisky, a former state senator who worked on the juvenile justice package and is now a criminal justice professor at Saginaw Valley State University.  "A kid in on a b&e doesn't belong in a maximum-security prison," said Cisky, who also works with a company specializing in juvenile rehabilitation.  (Lansing Bureau)

May 2000
After an expose' by the Grand Rapid Press into allegations of abuse and staff shortages, the state removed 140 inmates from this Wackenhut facility.  Legislative hearings have been called for.

Michigan Department of Corrections
Prison Health Services (formerly Correctional Medical Services)
October 13, 2014 Eclectablog

It has come to Aramark’s attention that the Progress Michigan Political Action fund (“Progress Michigan”) intends to launch a new television advertisement and road campaign today that allegedyly “seeks to educate the public about Gov. Rick Snyder’s mishandling of the state’s Aramark contract.” The media advisory you released yesterday states that you intend to represent the maggots that were discovered in Aramark  run [sic] cafeterias, and a print out of the ad language will be made available.” The video advertisement, accompanying statements, publications (including yesterday’s advisory statement) and event visuals will contain material falsehoods and/or distortions about Aramark’s performance under the contract with the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). The purpose of this letter is to demand that you and anyone connected to Progress Michigan immediately cease and desist from communicating, publishing, airing or causing others to air any false statements or distortions relating to Aramark’s performance under the contract with the MDOC. As you know, the MDOC and the State of Michigan have specifically refuted and dispelled previous false reports connecting Aramark to the presence of “maggots” at any MDOC facilities. In fact, in an August 2014 press release, the MDOC specifically stated: “We investigated recent allegations connecting Aramark’s services to inmate illnesses and pests. We determined none of these incidents were caused by Aramark. Despite heavy scrutiny and challenges, Aramark has served more than 20 million meals through July with great efficiency.”. Based on the media advisory that your organization released yesterday, Progress Michigan intends to nonetheless publish and air a statement to the public indicating or suggesting that Aramark was responsible for the presences of “maggots”. Any such statement or suggestion, in the face of the MDOC’s press release, would constitute a knowing publication of a materially false statement intended to injure Aramark. Please be aware that if Progress Michigan proceeds with advertisements containing false statement, Aramark reserves the right to take appropriate action.

Very truly yours,

Stephen R. Reynolds

Executive Vice President and General Counsel

What they say is true: the Snyder administration investigated the situation with the for-profit contractor that they privatized prison food services to amid great controversy, took a look around, and – surprise, surprise – found that Aramark wasn’t responsible for the maggots. Here’s the full statement: Although Aramark is responsible for its share of problems, they are not responsible for every issue that has been raised in recent months. We investigated recent allegations connecting Aramark’s services to inmate illnesses and pests. We determined none of these incidents were caused by Aramark. Despite heavy scrutiny and challenges, Aramark has served more than 20 million meals through July with great efficiency. We are pleased with the new process for tracking Aramark’s performance going forward and will work closely with the company to make sure this partnership is a success. The MDOC appears to be taking full credit for maggots in their prison kitchens, even though those kitchens are being run by Aramark. This is quite unlike the situation in Ohio where corrections officials didn’t fall on their swords and gave some of the credit for the maggots to Aramark.: Union leaders and legislative aides were watching workers power-wash the kitchen of the Ohio Reformatory for Women yesterday afternoon when maggots floated out from beneath steel floor plates.  Prisons Director Gary Mohr then told The Dispatch that his agency accepts shared responsibility with meal contractor Aramark Correctional Services for conditions that have spawned maggots at the Marysville prison. It’s never good when you’re being assigned partial credit for maggot spawning. Still, when these sorts of situations are cropping up around the country, you’ll forgive those of us looking in ffom the outside for being a bit skeptical when the agency that has had to spend so much time defending its decision to outsource jobs to a for-profit corporation is the very same agency that is responsible for doing the investigation surrounding the maggots. Especially when they find that everything is just fine. Progress Michigan’s executive director Lonnie Scott issued this statement regarding Aramark’s letter: Within minutes of launching our new ad, we received a letter from the top levels of Aramark telling us to ‘Cease & Desist’. We don’t shy away from telling the hard truth, especially when public safety is at risk. We’ve got free speech, not to mention facts, on our side. The facts are clear: This Aramark boondoggle is Gov. Snyder’s fault and we need to hold him accountable. The thing I couldn’t help but notice about the Reynolds’ letter is that is completely focused on maggots. It says nothing about Aramark employees caught smuggling in contraband like cocaine and heroin. It says nothing about Aramark kitchens running out of food and illegal food substitutions that resulted in the first $98,000 fine that was later quietly cancelled without notice by the Snyder administration. It says nothing about inmates caught having inappropriate sexual contact with inmates. (One employee wrote “a 65-page love letter she wrote to an inmate with whom she was allegedly having an affair.”) It says nothing about the Aramark employee who tried to hire one prisoner to kill another prisoner. But Gov. Snyder’s folks have given the “all clear” on the whole maggot thing so I guess we’re all supposed to just turn away because there’s nothing to see here. I have news for Aramark: this story is a long way from being over.


Sep 25, 2014 wzzm13.com

An Aramark Correctional Services food service worker at Kinross Correctional Facility in the eastern Upper Peninsula is suspected of approaching an inmate there about arranging to have another inmate killed, a Michigan State Police official confirmed Wednesday. Det.-Sgt. Michael Schroeder of the Michigan State Police Sault Ste. Marie post told the Free Press Wednesday police have sent a warrant request to the Chippewa County Prosecutor's Office following a lengthy investigation and are awaiting a response. An inmate complained in July that a food service worker approached him about arranging to kill an inmate held at another facility, in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Schroeder said. The worker was placed on a Corrections Department "stop order" — banning him from prison property — but has not been arrested pending the conclusion of the investigation, Schroeder said. He declined to release further details, saying "it's still being investigated." Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan confirmed an Aramark employee was banned from Kinross for "alleged criminal behavior," but would not comment further. Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler said she would not comment on an active police investigation. The $145-million, three-year contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark has been the subject of ongoing controversy since the company took over statewide prison kitchen operations on Dec. 8, displacing about 370 state employees. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March for food shortages, unauthorized menu substitutions and over-familiarity between kitchen workers and inmates, and another $200,000 in August after problems persisted. But the state recently confirmed it quietly waived the March fine soon after it was imposed, and Aramark never paid it. There have been two incidents of Aramark employees arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into state prisons to supply inmates and several instances in which Aramark workers and inmates have been caught engaging in sex acts. Democrats and a few Republicans have called on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to cancel the contract. Snyder said recently he has set up a new contract monitoring system and the problems are being addressed. "This is bizarre," Michigan Corrections Organization Executive Directer Mel Grieshaber said of the latest controversy.

 

Sep 12, 2014 dailykos.com

I've written extensively about Aramark, the for-profit prison food vendor that supplies food services to prisons across Michigan. They've experienced repeated food shortages, employees bringing drugs and contraband to prisoners, employees having sex with prisoners, and most recently, maggots in multiple food preparation areas. The state started cracking down on Aramark last March when they imposed at $98,000 fine for food shortages and unauthorized menu substitutions. Things didn't get better, however, and, in August, they got hit with another fine, this one for $200,000. However, after a FOIA request by Progress Michigan, we now learn that the original $98,000 fine was never imposed. It was, in fact, canceled with Snyder administration officials telling Aramark administrators that they had been "too harsh" on them. In the e-mails, obtained by the liberal group Progress Michigan under the Freedom of Information Act, [Michigan Department of Corrections Dan] Heyns told a top aide to Gov. Rick Snyder that he cracked down on Aramark because “we were concerned about losing control of a joint,” but promised to ease up. “I know where you want to go,” Heyns said in a March 13 e-mail to Dennis Muchmore, Snyder’s chief of staff. “I will tone down my attack dogs, delay or cancel any fines and give Aramark time to solve the problems,” Heyns said. “I met with one of their honchos today and he gets the picture. We were concerned about losing control of a joint, and told them repeatedly with no improvement. Our corrective action was too harsh.” The message Muchmore sent Heyns just prior to that was redacted by the state, according to Progress Michigan. But earlier, Muchmore had forwarded Heyns a newspaper clipping about state lawmakers getting concerned about controversies surrounding the contract — particularly Aramark workers engaged in sex acts with inmates — and asked: “Do you feel you’ve got this under control?” “Answer is no but I am working on it,” Heyns replied. You can read the FOIAed emails HERE.  What this shows is that the Snyder administration was going easy on their for-profit vendor to whom they had outsourced last spring, hoping to tamp down public criticism of them and sweep the entire affair under the rug. Unfortunately, this appears to have had the opposite impact and things actually got worse in Aramark prisons. Instead of just food shortages, they were forced to ban over 80 Aramark employees from even entering Michigan prisons after they were caught bringing in drugs and cell phones and other items, engaging in sex acts with prisoners, and, of course, the notorious news that maggots were found in Aramark-run food facilities. Keep in mind, Aramark is having problems in state prisons across the country. In Michigan, the Snyder administration thought that treating them with kid gloves and coddling them would fix the problems they were experiencing. Instead, the opposite was true. Governor Snyder needs to admit that this experiment with privatizing an essential government service to a for-profit vendor has been a colossal failure, fire Aramark, and resume state control over prison food service. He assured us that things would be done more efficiently with a private corporation running things but that has proven to be just a dream in the mind of our CEO governor. It's a clear indication that, when profits are on the line, corners will be cut and prisoners will suffer. Instead, Gov. Snyder has chosen to put a man previously embroiled in prison administration controversy in charge of overseeing the Aramark contract: Late Wednesday, the governor’s office said a former prison health care company executive, who served a short stint as head of the Florida prison system, will oversee monitoring of Michigan’s prison food contract. Edwin Buss, who also used to run the Indiana Department of Corrections, will be paid $160,000 a year. His first year’s salary will come from fines levied against Aramark for violations of its $145-million, three-year contract with the State of Michigan, said Wurfel. Buss was embroiled in questionable activities himself in the Florida prison system. Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan who uncovered this scandal released this statement: What was said between Muchmore and Heyns that caused him to ‘tone down his attack dogs’ and cancel fines to Aramark? Was the Snyder administration trying to hide problems with Aramark from the public? Heyns states that he was concerned about ‘losing control of a joint,’ proving that the Aramark contract is a threat to public safety.  The governor needs to do more than just slap Aramark on the wrist. He needs to end the contract immediately to protect not just taxpayer dollars, but taxpayers themselves. In light of the information we’re releasing today, it is even more troubling that Gov. Snyder has announced that he’s chosen an ex-public official who has already been embroiled in controversy to oversee the state’s Aramark contract. You would think the governor would want to avoid any future scandals at all cost given what has happened within his administration, but it appears that his allegiance to corporate profits and privatization is greater than than his commitment to the people of Michigan.


Mar 22, 2014 mlive.com

JACKSON, MI – A judge arraigned a food service worker Friday, March 21, on a charge of bringing contraband into prison for allegedly trying to smuggle two packages of marijuana into the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility. Christopher Amando Mitchell, 19, appeared late Friday afternoon before Jackson County District Judge Michael Klaeren. His alleged crime is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years. Klaeren gave him a personal recognizance bond, meaning he pays nothing to leave the jail as long as he does as ordered by the court. As a condition of his release, he cannot have any physical contact with any correctional facility, court records show. Police arrested Mitchell on Wednesday after a Michigan Department of Corrections officer doing a pat-down found two packages of marijuana on his body. The packages were wrapped in duct tape. They were about the size of two baked potatoes and weighed a total of a little more than 5 ounces, Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Michael Church said. Mitchell was working as an employee of Aramark Correctional Services. The arrest is the latest in a series of problems since Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration opted to eliminate 370 state jobs and pay a contractor provide prison meals, according to the Detroit Free Press. An Aramark spokeswoman told the newspaper the company shares the corrections department’s zero tolerance for inappropriate conduct. “Assuming the facts are as reported, this incident would violate everything Aramark stands for and is contrary to our procedures, operations and values.”


Mar 11, 2014 michiganradio.org

The Michigan Department of Corrections has fined Aramark, the company that handles food operations in state prisons. The MDOC notified Aramark of the fines, totaling almost $100,000, by two letters sent in the last two weeks. The MDOC said Aramark violated its contract by substituting meals, and by failing to prepare the right number of meals. The fines have been assessed for 52 unauthorized meal substitutions and 240 instances of improper meal counts. Russ Marlan is a spokesperson for the MDOC. He said food service is important to stability in prisons, and it matters that prisoners receive the meals they've been told they'll get and that there is consistency among housing units. "They're (Aramark) required to follow our menu and they're required to serve the same food and the same portions to the entire prison population," Marlan said. "And we found some examples after working through that transition period where that just wasn't occurring." Last month, 200 prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility staged a peaceful demonstration over shortages in scheduled meal items. The demonstration took place two months after Aramark started handling prison food services. The MDOC also fined Aramark for  a dozen instances of company employees being over-familiar with prisoners. Marlan said the incidents involved kissing, touching, and carrying notes from prisoners, all of which are prohibited by MDOC regulations. Marlan is hopeful these problems will be resolved going forward. Aramark took over food service for Michigan's prisons in December. Marlan said the company replaced about 350 state employees. "So we would expect that there would be some transition issues associated with switching a system that large overnight to a contractor," he said. "But we're hopeful that this will continue to improve, and we'll have a good contractual relationship with Aramark." Marlan said the MDOC has eight contract monitors who continuously review operations at Michigan's 31 correctional facilities and regularly meet with Aramark to ensure contract compliance. In a written statement, Aramark said "we are commited to resolving any issues as quickly as possible."


Feb 21, 2014 digital.olivesoftware.com  

LANSING — About 200 prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe left their cells and demonstrated Monday over their food — two months after the Department of Corrections eliminated 370 state jobs and privatized its food service. Mel Grieshaber, executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization union, said he remains extremely concerned about the way the food service is being handled under the $145-million, three-year contract awarded to Ara-mark Correctional Services of Philadelphia. “You don’t screw around with prisoners’ food,” Grieshaber told the Free Press. “They don’t have much else.”  “I hope they get things worked out, because when it gets warm out ... we’re just fearful something might kick off.” Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan said the prisoners left their cells and marched in single file into the yard in what was a 25-minute peaceful demonstration at Kinross, in Chippewa County in the eastern Upper Peninsula. The department received advance word that the protest might happen and was able to plan for it, Marlan said. “I think it was somewhat centered on the meals and changes in some of the menu items,” and “some shortages in what the scheduled meal item was supposed to be,” Marlan said. The issue appeared to be isolated to the Kinross facility and the concerns have already been taken up with Aramark officials, Marlan said.    An Aramark spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.    The contract is estimated to save the state $12 million to $16 million a year. It’s likely the ringleaders of the demonstration will be disciplined if they can be identified, he said. Grieshaber said there have been “dozens” of stop orders issued against Aramark employees, barring them from returning to work for a variety of issues, including over-familiarity with inmates. Marlan said there have been 29 stop orders issued against Aramark employees since the company took over food service in December.


06/07/2013 wxyz.com

DETROIT (WXYZ) - An investigation is underway to determine if Wayne County has been overcharged by millions of dollars for the meals served inside all of their jails.  7 Action News has learned there is an audit going on right now of the food service contract. Privatizing prisoner meals inside Wayne County’s four different detention facilities and jails was supposed to save money. Back in 2010, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and Sheriff’s Department Director Sue Hall recommended that Canteen Correctional Services be chosen to provide meals to the inmates and to 350 jail staff members. Canteen Correctional Services is a division of Continental Distributors. The      qCommission approved their five-year contract – which totals $26,143,976. But the 7 Investigators have learned that allegations of suspicious overcharges are part of a massive audit. Sources tell us that Continental is being scrutinized for allegedly billing the county for more meals than there are inmates inside the various lock-ups. “Is there any doubt in your mind that there are overcharges here?” asks 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo of Wayne County Commissioner Ilona Varga. “No doubt in my mind at all.  No doubt.  Numbers don’t lie,” says Varga. Varga also says a preliminary audit reveals that the taxpayers may have been overcharged by $6 million to $10 million for the meals. “It’s a lot of money, she adds. “You could buy a lot of sheriff hours with that for the jail. So we would not have to pay the overtime – that’s for sure.  And every dollar counts here at the county.” In addition to the audit, a spokeswoman for CEO Robert Ficano says the county’s Management and Budget Office started reviewing invoices from Continental/Canteen Correctional Services after they were “advised of irregularities.” A spokesman for Continental adamantly denies allegations of any overcharges for Wayne County.  He says the jail supervisors provide them with daily inmate population counts, which determine how many meals Continental Canteen serves each day.  The spokesman is also offering to allow 7 Action News to review its internal records, but told us they were not available to do that until next week. A spokesperson for the Wayne County Sheriff also disputes that there has been millions of dollars in overcharges for the food service contract. But Commissioner Varga isn’t taking their word for it -- she wants to hold a hearing to get to the bottom of allegations. “If we find anything wrong it will have to be turned over to the authorities,” she says. “I’m sure with the FBI being in the room already, at the county, this will be just one more thing they need to look at.” The FBI Can’t specifically confirm what they’re investigating, but sources tell me this jail food contract could certainly fall within the scope of high value contracts in WC that are currently being scrutinized by the feds. Meanwhile, they issued a statement today about a credit that it is due the Sheriff's Office regarding the food service contract: “An unexpected credit is in the works for the Wayne County Sheriff’s office.  Officials recently discovered that food services were being billed at the same rate of the previous year when the agreement called for a 2.8 cent per meal reduction starting in the second year of the contract.  The change was outlined in the contract’s appendix, but was never implemented to billing starting in fiscal year 2011-2012.  The discrepancy surfaced this week during an internal billing review by jail officials.” “While the oversight amounts to a few cents per meal, as you can see it adds up when you’re serving thousands of meals a day.  Those are resources we can certainly use elsewhere in our operation,” said Chief of Jails Jeriel Heard in the statement. Continental issued a similar statement about the credit due to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office regarding the food service contract: “Under a five-year contract with Wayne County, Continental Distributors provides inmate food services at the county’s jail facilities, preparing and delivering nutritious meals three times a day for the adult and juvenile inmate population. Early this week, officials auditing outside contracts with Wayne County notified the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department about invoices it received for inmate food services that appeared to be inconsistent with our contract with them.  We reviewed the bills and found that a multi-year discount triggered in the second year of our contract had not been applied – something that both county supervisors and the company had overlooked.  We will credit the county for $237,000 and have taken steps to avert the potential of a similar problem recurring. Continental Distributors appreciates its partnership with Wayne County and its important duty in delivering the thousands of meals ordered daily by the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department places its orders for meals based on the daily census of inmates, juveniles and detainees, as well as other jail staff requirements, and we fulfill those orders in line with those requests.  Invoices are submitted to the county on a regular basis and pricing is adjusted to reflect the number of meals the Sheriff’s Department has validated it has received."

February 21, 2010 Jackson City Patriot
Kenneth Rhinehart has known since he was convicted of first-degree murder in 1973 that he likely will die in prison. But he always expected to see a doctor when the time came. Rhinehart, 58, of the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Blackman Township, has irreversible liver disease and probably cancer, too. A prison doctor filed a request in September for a surgical biopsy, but Rhinehart is still waiting to see a specialist. He has no official cancer diagnosis, no treatment plan, no pain pills and no explanation for the delay. "The doctors up north found a mass in my abdominal cavity the size of a grapefruit. This will not go away," Rhinehart said. "I'm dying and I am in a lot of pain. I need them to do something." Treatment for inmates -- Sick inmates like Rhinehart often are transferred to the Jackson area because Jackson is the center of the prison health-care system. Medical advantages in Jackson include the state's only secure hospital unit for treating inmates, located on the seventh floor at Allegiance Health. Prison Health Services Inc., a national company based in Tennessee, runs medical services in Michigan prisons under a three-year, $326 million contract. No one at Prison Health Services would comment on Rhinehart's case, citing factors including his right to medical confidentiality. The company responded in writing to more general questions by saying cancer cases "are treated according to medical necessity and in compliance with Michigan Department of Corrections policies. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment may be part of this treatment regimen." PHS, which has had the Michigan contract less than a year, "is committed to providing quality health care in an efficient manner throughout the Michigan corrections system." How much care? -- It's a job filled with difficulties that begin with a debate over how much medical attention prison inmates deserve. Michigan cannot afford and does not intend to provide "the gold standard of care" to prisoners, said Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan. But Michigan must provide enough care to meet the standard of prisons without cruel and unusual punishment. "We try to be somewhere in the middle," Marlan said. "We try to provide good-quality care because that keeps the long-term health-care cost down." Critics often say medical care in prisons falls short. A study earlier in this decade — well before PHS had the contract — found more than 30 percent of Michigan inmates with cancer had their treatment interrupted, said Elizabeth Alexander, a Washington, D.C., lawyer active in inmate-rights cases. "I don't know why they don't treat people," Alexander said. "But there is a particularly terrible history of not treating cancer." Rhinehart has been in prison long enough to have some idea of how the inmates' view of the medical care has changed over time. "There were always a lot of complaints, but at least the guys were being treated," Rhinehart said. "They weren't crazy about the quality of the care, but they got care."

February 10, 2009 AP
Michigan has awarded a three-year, $326 million contract to a Tennessee company to treat prisoners with medical problems. A state board approved the contract Tuesday, which means the company currently overseeing prison health care will be replaced starting in April. Brentwood, Tenn.-based Prison Health Services will take over for St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services. CMS has hired doctors and others to see Michigan prisoners for about a decade. But a year ago, an independent review found that most doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants were seeing too few prisoners a day. The review was ordered by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006 after reports of inmates dying because of inadequate care.

April 4, 2008 Capital News Service
The Department of Corrections (DOC) has left many prisoners without proper medical care, according to a new report from the Office of the Auditor General. More than half of prisoners with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, and neurological problems, weren't seen for regularly scheduled visits with health care professionals, according to the report. The report also noted cases where annual clinic visits and requested visits had been missed. DOC issued a preliminary response agreeing with the audit's findings, and saying that it has fixed or will fix the problems it identified. But DOC also contends that the audit misrepresents the state of health care in its prisons. For example, it says the report ignored unscheduled visits to clinics made by prisoners. The study looked at 130 inmates who had asked for medical assistance and found that only four hadn't been treated, although many visits were late. DOC indicated that a shortage of employees was partially to blame for its failure to comply with scheduling policies. The department has dozens of vacancies in its nursing and health care professional staffs. Sandra Girard, executive director of Prison Legal Services of Michigan in Jackson, said the report focused too much on bookkeeping. "It doesn't address the quality of the care provided." "People with chronic illnesses just do not receive good care," Girard said. Girard also said that the delays in medical help noted in the report are costly in the long run because chronic conditions are likely to worsen when left untreated. Russ Marlan, public information officer for DOC, said the recommendations were helpful. He said large-scale efforts to improve the department's medical services have been underway for some time and the criticisms raised over health care are being addressed. Other parts of the report were largely neutral, finding only small problems with items like the department's management of staffing and of prisoner medications.

March 11, 2008 The Detroit News
Internet chat room promises of sex with a child brought 27 men hurrying to an unassuming suburban home this weekend. But it was police who were waiting instead of the anticipated teen boy or girl the men, including a doctor from Canton Township, thought they were chatting with online. It was a highly motivated crowd. Four took taxi cabs. One man rode a bicycle through the cold from Ypsilanti. Another was dropped off at the undercover decoy house by his sister. All of them got arrested and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Monday that the cooperative venture with Wayne County sheriff's deputies and Van Buren Township police expects to round up many more men who made explicit plans with undercover police and volunteers from a nonprofit group that helps law enforcement agencies catch Internet predators. "The truth is stranger than fiction," Cox said. "One man was stopped by police on his way to the home on a shredded tire. He still continued to the house." The men, ranging in ages from 19 to 57 were arrested Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the home in the Walden Woods subdivision. The white-sided, two-story house had been unoccupied, but was made to look inviting enough to cause one man to expose himself to police when he walked in, said Cox. "The universe of people out there that are pedophiles is significant," said Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans, indicating that deputies in his undercover Internet Predator Unit routinely attempt to engage in Internet conversations with people interested in having sex with children. All but one of the men is from Michigan, and most are from Metro Detroit. One man came from New Jersey. The men were to have been arraigned on charges by Monday that carry up to a 20-year prison sentences. One of those arrested included Dr. Audberto Cesar Antonini, who holds a valid medical license according to the Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Health Professionals. Antonini, 51, until recently worked as a contract physician in the Michigan Department of Prisons system. His contract was terminated several months ago at the request of prison officials, according to Ken Fields, a spokesman for Correctional Medical Services, the prison's health care provider. Although Antonini also was listed on documents provided Monday by police as an employee at W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital in Jackson, Antonini has never been on the hospital staff, said Terry Christian, the hospital's manager of medical staff services.

February 6, 2008 Grand Rapids Press
As medical director for a Grand Rapids clinic serving low-income patients, Dr. Jack Walen is no stranger to the medical problems of former prison inmates. The past year as technical adviser for a study of health care in Michigan's prisons gave him insight into what it's like for those still behind bars. The study, released today in Lansing, is the latest of several criticizing the quality of health care in the state's prisons. This one, prepared by the American Friends Service Committee and Prison Legal Services of Michigan -- two non-profit groups that advocate for prisoner rights -- recommends 32 changes to improve health care in the prisons. "I think the biggest issue, practically speaking, is most of these prisoners are not in for life," Walen said. "They're going to get out." Some come out with infectious diseases, such as hepatitis C, that often have gone untreated in prison and can be spread to those on the outside, he said. Some, due to inadequate care while incarcerated, become a burden to hospitals and other health care providers in the community. "Either way, the community loses," Walen said. "We, as taxpayers, ought to be outraged at the amount of money spent without adequate oversight for substandard care." He emphasized his volunteer work editing the report was separate from his role as medical director for Catherine's Care Center, a clinic that serves hundreds of uninsured patients every year. The report noted as examples Timothy Souders, who died of heat exhaustion in August 2006 while shackled to a bed at Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson; Jeffrey Clark, who died in July 2002 of dehydration at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia after the water to his cell was shut off; and Anthony McManus, who starved to death in the Baraga Maximum Security Facility in September 2005. "I think there's a definite culture within the department to deny problems when they arise," said one of the study's authors, Natalie Holbrook, of the American Friends Service Committee. The report recommends reviving the Legislative Corrections Ombudsman, a position the Legislature eliminated in 2003, and creating a permanent legislative committee to oversee prison medical care and mental health care. Some of the 32 recommendations are similar to those in a study by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) released two weeks ago. Gov. Jennifer Granholm ordered that study after several news reports about health care in the prisons. The Corrections Department plans to follow virtually all 56 recommendations in the NCCHC study, spokesman Russ Marlan said, adding he is not surprised the latest report is highly critical of the department. "With a title like 'Tolerating Failure,' I figured it probably was not going to be a ringing endorsement of our program," he said. While placing most of the blame on the Corrections Department, the report also faults Correctional Medical Services (CMS), the for-profit company that has been paid nearly $670 million over the past decade to provide medical care in the prisons. A CMS spokesman released a statement saying: "We are focused on working with the Department of Corrections to continually strengthen the areas of Michigan's inmate healthcare system in which we play a role. It is important to note that no one from the organizations issuing this report even attempted to get the facts about inmate healthcare from Correctional Medical Services." Penny Ryder, of the American Friends Service Committee, said she hopes the growing weight of criticism will prompt corrections officials to improve health care. "It angers me that it took these people dying and full embarrassment in the press for this to happen," she said, adding, "I'm not totally convinced they will do the right thing in the future."

January 23, 2008 Detroit News
An independent audit released Tuesday said Michigan's $300-million-a-year prison health care system is fractured and inefficient, leading to unnecessarily high costs, impeding inmate access and diminishing the quality of care. The state needs to reorganize prison health care services, retrain staff, practice more preventive care, fix its electronic medical records system and hold medical providers more accountable for the services they provide, said a 131-page report compiled after a year-long review by the Chicago-based National Commission on Correctional Health Care. "Most of the problems we identified were attributable to system failures, rather than to individuals not doing their jobs," the $400,000 report determined. "We believe the most pressing problem for the Michigan Department of Corrections is to address the lack of medical service provider coverage and their generally low productivity. "Until this occurs, access to care, quality of care and health care staff morale will continue to suffer." State corrections officials said they agree with the report's findings and added the department's own health care improvement team is implementing many of the commission's 56 recommendations. "We have realigned our resources so we have more oversight," said state Corrections Director Patricia Caruso. "We do have the information and tools to restructure this delivery system and get to where we want to go." A federal court case, media attention and reports of inmates dying because of inadequate care prompted Gov. Jennifer Granholm to order the review in 2006. A U.S. District Court ordered the appointment of an independent monitor and called the state's system "systematically defective" and "dangerous." The revamping won't include firing Correctional Medical Services (CMS), an often-criticized private company that has provided HMO-style managed care in the Michigan prison system for the past 10 years, Caruso said. In fact, the contract with the company has been extended by a year, she said. The report, however, says the state should "seriously reconsider the advantages and disadvantages of continuing to contract out provider services," adding that if the state isn't paying medical staff salaries competitive with private industry, it should consider raising them. The report is critical of CMS, saying there are long patient waiting lists, and the company lets many medical provider shifts go unfilled. "We were told that CMS can unilaterally choose to reduce provider staffing from five days a week to two days a week, if it has trouble recruiting, and that CMS is not subject to any penalty or disincentive," the report said. Some staffing cutbacks violated the state contract, according to the report. The commission found that the department had a monitor for the CMS contract "but it is not clear what he actually did. This contract has been running for over 10 years, and we were not provided a single monitoring report." The report called the health care system "cumbersome," adding that it "results in duplication of administration, services and materials." An example: A female inmate attempted suicide by hanging. After guards got her down, she crawled under a bed and yelled that she wanted to die. A psychiatrist was called but did not come, saying he only sees patients after they've been evaluated by a psychologist. She eventually was evaluated and referred to the psychiatrist, which took more than 45 minutes. "This is an unacceptable response to an emergency situation, directly attributable to a faulty organizational structure," the report says. Problems with management of prison pharmacies also were cited. There are delays in receiving same-day medications and a number of drugs aren't available, the report said. Criticisms also are aimed at Serapis, the electronic medical record system. The report says it is difficult to search and loses relevant patient history information, and clinical documentation is "achingly slow" -- taking time from physician-patient visits. If the department rectifies inefficiencies in the prison health care system, the state should save money, according to the report. Caruso acknowledged the department's responsibility to taxpayers, but added: "Totally aside from money, it's about human lives." She said the reformed system won't cost taxpayers more. "We're taking positions that haven't been filled and are available to be funded and assigning them to health care," she said. Barbara Levine, executive director of the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending, an inmate advocacy group, said she's wary of any plan that professes to lower costs and improve health care for the 50,000 state inmates. "If it saves money while adequately protecting the health of prisoners, that's good," she said. "But when they went to managed care, that didn't happen. I'm always cautious about how money will be saved."

July 18, 2007 AP
Michigan will switch to HMOs to provide health care to the state's about 50,000 prisoners, Corrections Director Patricia Caruso says. The plan calls for up to six health maintenance organizations to supply care for inmates, Caruso told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday. The services now are provided under a statewide managed care contract. The HMO contracts are scheduled for implementation in March, when current contract expires. The prison system will pay at least $300 million in health care costs this year, excluding security and transportation costs for doctor and hospital visits, Caruso said. "I absolutely think our costs can come down," she said, declining to estimate what the savings might be under the HMO system. Federal courts have been overseeing health care at state prisons in Jackson after inmates sued over what they said was inadequate care. Caruso said she understands public resentment over free health care for prisoners when many honest people go uninsured. But, she added, "prisoners are virtually the only people in our society with a constitutional right to health care."

February 28, 2007 The Grand Rapids Press
Fredrick Heinz needed medical care to save his life. Doing time in Marquette Branch Prison, he begged prison doctors to treat his hepatitis C, but was turned down, told it would cost too much, a friend, Jackie Deming, told a state legislative committee Tuesday. When he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in November, Heinz asked for pain medication and was given two Tylenol in the morning and two at night, Deming testified. But when he asked for something stronger, the doctor took away the Tylenol, she said. He was scheduled for cancer surgery, but then was transferred to another prison where the medical personnel said they had no record of his illnesses. "He will never again be lied to and jerked around like a wounded animal," said Deming, of Hudsonville. Heinz died Feb. 5 at age 51. Deming's testimony came minutes after state Corrections Department officials assured the same panel -- the Corrections Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee -- that inmates receive adequate medical care. "We meet the community standards that are provided in any HMO," Barry Wickman, head of the Corrections Department's bureau of fiscal management, told the subcommittee. Tuesday's hearing came as the Corrections Department is under the competing pressures to cut its budget while improving medical care for prisoners. The department's contract with Correctional Medical Services, the for-profit company that has provided medical care in Michigan's prisons for the past decade, expires May 1, but Wickman said the department may extend it another year while the National Commission on Correctional Health Care conducts an investigation ordered by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. William Clancy, a prison psychologist and union steward, spoke out against what he called "the hoax perpetuated by the Department of Corrections as far as the quality of health care in the prisons." Every year, the department files the same report assuring the Legislature that CMS is providing medically necessary services to prisoners. "I ask you, if CMS is providing medically necessary service, then why are prisoners dying unnecessarily?" Clancy said. He noted the case of Anthony McManus, who died Sept. 8, 2005, in the Baraga Correctional Facility after CMS doctors repeatedly failed to heed nurses' requests to examine him. McManus, who was mentally ill, refused to eat, and his weight dropped from 140 pounds in April 2005 to 75 pounds five months later, when he died. "The citizens of our great state will be paying off wrongful death lawsuits for years to come," Clancy warned the legislators. His remarks were echoed by Gary Peterson, employed to schedule inmates' medical appointments at Marquette Branch Prison. Before the state privatized the medical care, the prison had three doctors, each seeing an average 25 to 30 inmates a day, said Peterson, a steward for the UAW local representing some prison employees. After CMS took over the care, the prison was cut back to one doctor seeing an average of eight to 10 patients a day, he said. The CMS doctors frequently quit, he said, leaving the prison without a physician. On Monday, a CMS doctor was fired, Peterson said, because he was not fully licensed to practice medicine in Michigan. "I believe the attorney general should be asked to look into the handling of this contract, as well as CMS's failure to honor its obligations," Peterson said.

December 12, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Lloyd Byron Martell lies on a bed in Dearborn's Oakwood Hospital, sets the disc player above the colostomy bag on his stomach and slides on the headphones. He shuts his eyes and smiles. For a minute or two, the old-school sounds of Sade make the world go away. "Smooth operator," he sings, way off key. "Smoooooooth operator." Then reality smacks him. He jerks up, coughing, spitting blood and phlegm into a plastic bowl. Waves of nausea run though him. His chest tightens, stomach spins, head pounds. Martell's colon cancer has spread to his lungs. His weight is down from 224 to 180. At 41, he has six months, maybe a year, to live, says his oncologist, Dr. Parvez Khan. Martell didn't have to go out like this. In 2004, driving on a suspended license, he fled from Redford police who tried to pull him over for a broken rear window. He got 1-4 years, but prison doctors effectively turned that short bit into a death sentence. Martell, of Detroit, was released in August to die. His cancer could have been contained had the Michigan Department of Corrections treated it two years ago. But like hundreds of Michigan inmates, Martell got a double sentence: one handed down by the court and another executed by a deadly and dysfunctional prison health care system. So now, once a week, the chemo drips into a port in Martell's chest and through a main artery, delivering the chemicals that kill his cells, cancerous and healthy alike, to prolong his life a few more months. Sometimes he wonders if it's worth it. It would be easier just to pop OxyContin and ride out his last few months in a haze. Without chemo, though, the cancer could spread to his liver and brain. "I don't want it to get any uglier, Dog," he tells me. Still, "every time I do this chemo, I wonder why. In the end, it's not going to change anything. I just want some time without throwing up, without pain, without doctors." The cancer can be slowed, but the beast cannot be stopped. The only time Martell cries is when he thinks of how things could have been. "They killed me, with their evil, neglectful ways," he says. Potentially curable if treated earlier. In December 2004, Martell had what he believed was a hemorrhoid lanced in prison. Medical records show it was actually a cancerous polyp. Dr. Jerome Wisneski, who works for Correctional Medical Services Inc., failed to treat it. By October of last year, Martell was bleeding from the rectum and unable to walk. He was sent to Foote Hospital in Jackson, which contracts with CMS for specialty services. Doctors told him he had terminal cancer. In an oncology report, they noted that his cancerous polyp was not treated, though CMS spokesperson Amanda Brown said in an e-mail that Martell "received prompt care." There are no guarantees with cancer, even with early intervention. But the earlier it's treated, the better. Martell's cancer was potentially curable when it was discovered two years ago. Martell's case isn't the first that Wisneski botched. In 1996, he disregarded a bile leak in inmate Richard LeMarbe's abdomen, court records show. Another doctor later found 3 1/2 gallons of bile in LeMarbe's abdomen, causing serious damage that required several surgeries. In 2001, LeMarbe, now 73, and his attorney settled for $150,000 in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They would have gotten a lot more if LeMarbe, serving 25-50 years for second-degree murder, hadn't been an inmate. Martell's attorney, Brian McKeen of Detroit, is suing Wisneski, the Department of Corrections and Correctional Medical Services Inc. for medical malpractice and constitutional violations. But Martell probably won't live to see the money. It will go to his mother, father and 6-year-old son, Loyal, who lives with his mother in Missouri. "I won't be around to take care of my son," Martell says. "I don't want him to have to worry about anything." An oasis of hope. Peacemakers International mission sits on Chene on Detroit's east side, surrounded by vacant lots, drug houses and empty, burned-out buildings. It's an oasis of hope, where the homeless, addicted and afflicted come to pick up the pieces of a broken life. Martell has not come here to die, but to live. He first came to Peacemakers four years ago. While driving down Gratiot, a stray .38-caliber hollow-point grazed the back of his head. The car's rear window and headrest slowed the bullet enough so that it just penetrated the surface of Martell's skull. Inside the mission, Martell pulled out the bullet and prayed. The Rev. Steve Upshur -- "Pastor Steve" -- took him in. After Martell got out of prison in August, he came back to save his life again. Upshur, 57, a maverick minister and former heroin addict, wears black denim, flowing gray curls and feathered earrings. His church works with drugs addicts, prostitutes and anyone who needs hope and love. Upshur figures that's what Jesus is all about. "Pastor Steve always had the door open, even when I wasn't right," Martell says. He goes back and forth between a vacant house on the west side owned by his father and the Jesus House men's shelter run by Peacemakers International. Martell spent his first few days out of prison with his mother, Donna Martin, in Dearborn. More than anyone else, Martin, 60, has been there for Martell when he was in prison and before. Still, the two fought when Martell was at her home. They agreed it was best that he stay somewhere else. At the church mission, Martell found new peace. He had been running all his life, chasing the next high, whether it came from drugs, fighting or drag racing. Bored with high school, Martell dropped out in his sophomore year, earned a GED and, at 19, became a diesel mechanic for the Detroit Department of Transportation. His father, Lloyd Byron Hill, also worked for DDOT and raced cars semiprofessionally, as did Martell. Martell was smart and worked hard, often earning more than $1,000 a week as a mechanic, but he'd blow a lot of it on alcohol and drugs. "I had problems with alcohol, drugs and my temper," Martell says. "But I got up and worked every day. My plan was to go back to the dealership and work as mechanic. "Now all my dreams are shattered." Martell gets $800 a month in disability from Social Security. Medicaid covers medical bills. Fresh out of prison, he was almost in a rage, but he has since let much of that anger go. "I'm ready to die," he says. "I've made peace. There's no way I can carry all that anger around. That will kill you, too." Telling his story has helped him heal. I watched him tell it, his voice raspy and raw, at a weekday service at Peacemakers a month ago. On Nov. 16, he told it again at a Lansing public hearing on prison health care sponsored by Prison Legal Services of Michigan and the American Friends Service Committee. He spoke from the heart and, when he finished, 100 people stood up and applauded. "I'm just trying to save the next man," he says. Martell's story and those of others like him, along with public pressure, have made a difference. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has ordered a review of the prison health care system and a federal judge has also ordered changes. Martell's body is failing but, somehow, he feels free. He can't save the world or even his own life, but he's trying to make things better for others. There's no better way to live or die. JEFF GERRITT is a Free Press editorial writer.

December 8, 2006 WOOD TV 8
A federal judge on Thursday held the state Department of Corrections in contempt and threatened $2 million in fines unless it hires more physicians at Jackson prisons. In a scathing 61-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen ordered the department to hire extra doctors within four months. He said inmates' health care is "systematically defective, dangerous and readily results in preventable death, illness and suffering due to untreated serious medical conditions." Enslen also ordered that the department hire more nurses, file a staffing plan within three months and create independent monitoring offices at the prisons to handle inmates' complaints. Health care at the Jackson facilities has been under federal oversight for years, the result of a long-standing lawsuit by prisoners represented by the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project. Enslen cited delays causing prisoners to not get proper treatment until it was too late. He said a prisoner deserves to serve his sentence and nothing more. "What he does not deserve is a de facto and unauthorized death penalty at the hands of a callous and dysfunctional health care system that regularly fails to treat life-threatening illness," Enslen wrote. Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said he couldn't comment specifically on the ruling because state attorneys were still reviewing it. He said, however, that it's an "ongoing battle" to recruit and retain health care workers to work inside prisons. Last month, Enslen issued a separate decision criticizing the state's care of mentally ill inmates and halting the use of non-medical, punitive restraints on prisoners. That decision came after a 21-year-old mentally ill inmate died in August after spending four days naked inside a hot, isolated cell at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson. An autopsy determined the inmate, Timothy Joe Souders, died accidentally of hyperthermia and dehydration. Elizabeth Alexander, director of the National Prison Project, said the judge noted in Thursday's ruling that prisoners who need specialty care face too many delays. Between 30 and 40 percent of specialty care wasn't provided within the time deemed medically necessary, Enslen said. Of six randomly selected cases, four involved delays that could have caused unnecessary death or suffering, he said. It took 40 days to test a patient with blood in his urine. Another inmate complained of a mole on his back, and despite a doctor saying it should be removed surgically, there were many delays. Later testing showed malignant melanoma and that the cancer had spread while the patient was awaiting treatment. "This is a very significant decision," Alexander said. "Our hope is that finally the state will turn the corner and understand it has to clean up a dysfunctional medical care system." The ruling covers three of the five prisons in Jackson, Marlan said. Each prison typically houses about 1,000 inmates. Gov. Jennifer Granholm in August ordered an independent review of prison health care. The state earlier this week picked an outside agency, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, to conduct the review. "That should give us a good idea on where we stand," Marlan said. The case is Hadix v. Caruso, et al.

November 14, 2006 Detroit Free Press
In the end, it took a federal judge to get it right. Michigan's state bureaucracy, against all available evidence, has been in denial about Michigan's deadly and dysfunctional prison health care system. Even Gov. Jennifer Granholm's pledge in August to order an outside review of health care in Michigan's nearly 50 prisons is beginning to smell like an election-year ploy. The review was supposed to start in early October but the state hasn't even decided who is going to do it. The strong wording in the preliminary injunction he issued Monday shows that U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen of Kalamzoo had clearly run out of patience with the state. He told the Department of Corrections and its private contractor for primary services, Correctional Medical Services of Missouri, to either treat sick inmates or be held in contempt of court and jailed. "You are valuable providers of life-saving services and medicines," Enslen wrote. "You are not coat racks who collect government paychecks while your work is taken to the sexton for burial. The days of dead wood in the Department of Corrections are over, as are the days of CMS intentionally delaying referrals and care for craven profit motives."

November 14, 2006 Baltimore Sun
A federal judge has ordered prison officials in Michigan to immediately cease the use of non-medical, punitive restraints following the death of a mentally ill inmate who died after four days spent naked and shackled in an isolated cell. U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen's sharply worded order, issued Monday, directly addressed the case of Timothy Joe Souders, who was serving up to four years for resisting arrest, assault and destroying police property. Souders, 21, spent most of his last four days naked inside an isolation cell at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson, his arms and legs bound in shackles and sometimes lying in his own urine. He died Aug. 6, two hours after jail staff removed his restraints. "The court finds that the defendant's practice constitutes torture and violates the Eighth Amendment," Enslen wrote in his ruling. "Its cessation is required immediately to prevent further loss of life, loss of dignity and damage to both inmates and correctional officers." His order also requires the state's Department of Corrections to submit a plan within 45 days for how to improve mental health care for inmates. The state has contracted with Correctional Medical Services Inc., a St. Louis company, to provide health care to prisoners. Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said the department was still reviewing the order and had no comment Monday. Following media reports that examined issues highlighted by Souders' death in August, Gov. Jennifer Granholm called for an independent review of health care in the state's prisons. Souders' family last month filed a federal lawsuit against CMS. The official cause of Souders' death has not been announced.

October 26, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has pledged to do what's necessary to fix the state's troubled prison health care system. To do that, the governor will need the truth -- straight with no chaser -- from the independent review she ordered in August. But getting it won't be easy. The people who really know what's up -- prison employees and inmates who use the health care system -- won't speak freely. They'll fear retaliation, unless the department offers them anonymity and protection. So far, state administrators don't seem even to be aware of the problem, but the people who live and work in the system are. Inmate Henry Donald Franklin, 43, testified in federal court earlier this month about the death of 21-year-old mentally ill inmate Timothy Joe Souders. Before testifying, Franklin apparently took some payback for talking to prisoners' attorneys who were investigating Souders' death. Franklin was locked up near the isolation cell where Souders died on Aug. 6, after spending most of his last four days strapped to a steel table in oppressive heat. In a Kalamazoo courtroom, Franklin said he had heard Souders, who might have died from dehydration, choking and asking for water. Franklin, who is legally blind, said he kicked his cell door on several occasions and yelled for help. Officers told him to shut up and mind his own business, he said, finally threatening to put him in restraints. I visited Franklin last week at Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson, where he's serving 30-50 years for unarmed assault with intent to steal. After he had spoken to the attorneys, Franklin said, someone broke his typewriter into four pieces and pushed in the grill of his radio. He also said pain medication and eyedrops for his glaucoma had been withheld for about a month. Prison officials say they have investigated the matter and deny the allegations that Franklin made to me and under oath in federal court. "No one's given me any help since I talked," Franklin told me through the glass in a prison segregation visiting area. "They left me hanging. If I would have known, I wouldn't have done this (testified)." Even high-level administrators could face reprisals for bucking the system. Dr. Chris Samy became regional medical director in Jackson in February. But Samy, a corporation medical director for 10 years, told me she was forced to resign her Corrections post in June. Her job was to monitor health care and oversee Missouri-based Correctional Medical Services Inc., a controversial private contractor delivering primary medical care in Michigan prisons. Still, Samy said she had no authority or support to make necessary changes. While at Jackson, Samy said three or four diabetic inmates died because blood sugar reactions were not properly monitored. "Most medically necessary procedures were denied or withheld from the inmates, resulting in long-term illness or death," she said. When Samy complained, she said prison medical administrators ignored her and finally made her so uncomfortable that she had to resign. She cited a cozy relationship between the department and CMS. In fact, even an MDOC consultant concluded this year that Corrections staff are too protective of CMS. "No one has the guts to say, 'Do what has to be done,' " said Samy, a suburban Detroit resident in her mid-50s. MDOC spokesman Russ Marlan said the department is investigating Samy's allegations. He said she made no formal complaints while employed by the department. Also troubling is an alleged "witness promotion plan." A civil service grievance filed against MDOC last summer alleges that Director Patricia Caruso approved transfers and promotions for about 10 employees who testified in 2004 on the department's behalf during a 27-day grievance hearing against former Pine River Warden Jan Trombley. On the flip side, the 10 or more employees who testified against the department did not get them. Deputy Director Dennis Straub made it clear in an earlier meeting that the department would deny opportunities to employees who went against it, said East Lansing attorney Robert G. Huber, who represents the employees. Employees called it the "witness promotion plan." According to one MDOC employee, Straub said "staff who don't (support the department) can find a home elsewhere." Caruso denies the allegations and has asked the Michigan State Police to investigate. My opinion: Caruso has too much integrity to sanction anything that shady. But the point is, employees undoubtedly will feel pressure to protect the department during an outside investigation. All these allegations underscore how hard it will be to get solid information. The no-snitch rule operates not only on the street, but also inside criminal justice agencies. Granholm should make sure the people who work and live in Michigan prisons feel safe enough to tell the truth. Employees and inmates must get anonymity and immunity, or the governor's so-called independent review will be little more than a whitewash. JEFF GERRITT is a Free Press editorial writer. Contact him at gerritt@freepress.com or 313-222-6585.

October 14, 2006 The Grand Rapids Press
The use of four-point restraints as punishment for prison inmates meets the American Medical Association's definition of torture and should be discontinued, a doctor appointed by a federal judge to monitor health care in Michigan's prisons testified Friday. The continued use of restraints is "likely to result in future deaths," Robert Cohen warned U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen. He blamed the Aug. 6 death of Timothy Joe Souders, a 21-year-old mentally ill inmate, on the fact he was shackled atop a steel table in the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson for most of four days during a heat wave. "While naked in bed, he was found to be lying in his own urine and feces," Cohen said, adding that Souders' "condition during a heat wave required constant monitoring ... There should be no policy for maintaining prisoners in punitive restraints. It was that policy that led to his death." After Cohen's testimony, attorney Elizabeth Alexander, representing inmates in the class action lawsuit, asked Enslen to issue an order temporarily barring the state Corrections Department from using restraints to punish prisoners. Enslen appeared inclined to issue the order, but Assistant Attorney General Peter Govorchin stepped outside the courtroom to call state Corrections Director Patricia Caruso about offering a voluntary moratorium on the use of restraints. Afterward, the attorneys met with Enslen behind closed doors, and later would not say whether an agreement had been reached to stop restraining prisoners as punishment. Cohen's testimony came at the end of a three-day hearing in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the state to improve the care of medically and mentally ill prisoners. The allegations include: The hospital and other medical units in the Jackson prison complex are understaffed by doctors and nurses. Written requests by inmates for medical help often are delayed for several days or ignored. Referrals to outside medical specialists are routinely delayed for weeks and even months while sick inmates get sicker and, in some case, die. Prescriptions for serious illnesses often go unfilled for several days. Last May and June, critical medications for several inmates were not provided while the Jackson prison complex was in transition from its own staff of pharmacists to a private firm called Pharmacorp. One inmate testified his medication for glaucoma and migraine headaches was withheld as punishment because he talked with attorneys in the case. Only while he was in court and on the stand Wednesday did a guard hand him his medication. Some of the responsibility rests with Correctional Medical Services, the for-profit corporation that provides care for prisoners under a contract with the state, testified Jerry Walden, an Ann Arbor physician called as an expert witness for the inmates. "There seems to be an indifference about care," Walden said, "and I'm concerned about that."

October 5, 2006 Lansing State Journal
The family of a mentally ill inmate who died after spending most of his last four days naked inside an isolated prison cell has filed a lawsuit against a company hired to provide medical care to state prisoners. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit claims that Timothy Joe Souders, 21, of Adrian, was restrained to a bed and left to lie naked in his urine and feces without access to food. He died on Aug. 6, two hours after staff at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson removed his restraints. Ken Fields, a spokesman for medical contractor Correctional Medical Services Inc. in St. Louis, Mo., said the company was reviewing the lawsuit and he couldn't comment on patients. Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, told The Detroit News that Souders' death was under investigation, and he could not comment on the claims in the lawsuit. Souders was serving 1 to 4 years for charges including resisting arrest and assault.

September 24, 2006 Grand Rapids Press
In his cell at a Jackson prison, Joseph Griffin was dying, unable to convince his doctors he needed the care that could save his life. Tests to diagnose his illness were repeatedly delayed by doctors working for Correctional Medical Services (CMS), the firm contracted to provide care for the state's more than 50,000 inmates. After five months of suffering with a swollen right arm and legs so bloated he no longer could walk, Griffin, serving time for shoplifting, died May 9, 2005. He wasn't the only Michigan inmate who died last year due to inadequate medical care. In January, Larry Ervans, a 61-year-old window washer doing time for selling drugs, bled to death in his cell two days after complaining to the medical staff about abdominal pain. The prison doctors didn't order a simple test that could have detected a bleeding ulcer. In February, Hakim Muhammad, 45, convicted on a drug charge, died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, untreated for months as a doctor repeatedly ignored requests to examine him. When he complained of severe pain in his hip and legs, the doctor canceled his medication and took away his wheelchair. In June, Steven Boals, 52, convicted of armed robbery and auto theft, died of lung cancer two months after complaining of fatigue, weight loss and a lump on his chest. During the last two months of his life, he suffered in pain as a prison doctor repeatedly failed to examine him or order treatment. Later that month, John McRae, a 70-year-old convicted murderer, died in his cell after the prison's medical staff failed to follow an outside doctor's instructions on caring for his many health problems, including heart failure, diabetes and internal bleeding. In each case, the death certificates list the cause as "natural," but their deaths could have been avoided, or their suffering at least alleviated, if they had received proper medical care, according to an independent doctor who reviewed the cases. Dr. Robert Cohen, appointed by U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen to monitor health care in the Jackson prisons, cited numerous examples of inmates suffering and dying due to understaffing, misdiagnosis and delays in treatment. Cohen, a nationally recognized expert on prison medical care, declined to be interviewed for this story, but in his report to Enslen last September, he cited numerous "significant problems with the care being provided to the sickest prisoners," particularly at the Duane L. Waters Hospital inside the Jackson prison complex. "It was routine in Duane Waters Hospital for nurses to request physicians to examine patients and for physicians not to come," Cohen wrote. "I have never before heard of physicians failing to respond to nursing requests to evaluate a patient, but according to the medical records I reviewed, and according to the nursing staff at DWH, this is routine." After reading Cohen's report, Enslen found the health care in the Jackson facilities amounted to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and he ordered the state to come up with a plan to improve it. State Corrections Department officials said they are implementing a plan, although they disagreed with Cohen's conclusion that health care in the prisons is substandard. "We do not necessarily agree with everything Dr. Cohen said in his characterizations of these cases," said Richard Russell, head of the department's bureau of health-care services. "What you have to understand is, in any health-care system, there are cases that don't go the way you want them to go." One doctor repeatedly faulted by Cohen for providing inferior care was forced to resign, although Russell called the doctor "a qualified physician. I'm saying I don't believe he needed to be let go." He contended Cohen focused on the worst cases and "made generalizations that are not typical of our system." But in August, Gov. Jennifer Granholm ordered an independent review of the entire prison health-care system following the death of 21-year-old mentally ill inmate. Timothy Joe Souders, doing one to four years for assault, resisting arrest and destroying police property, had spent most of his last four days in an isolation cell, his arms and legs shackled to a steel bed. Although Souders suffered numerous physical and mental illnesses and the Corrections Department had issued a heat advisory, no doctor visited him during those four days. His death "was a terrible unnecessary tragedy," Cohen wrote in an Aug. 14 letter to Enslen. " ... There are a number of additional continuing serious deficiencies in the medical program which require immediate action, some of which may have contributed to the abject failure to provide Mr. S. with medical care. ... This is an emergency that's gone on for too long and is having an extremely adverse effect on patient care." While Cohen's reports covered only the medical facilities inside the sprawling Jackson prison complex, some inmates' rights advocates contend the quality of care there is typical of the state's entire penal system. "It's a nightmare," said David Santacroce, a University of Michigan law professor whose students have filed lawsuits for the inmates. "There's an incentive for them (CMS) to keep costs down. The less they spend on medical care, the higher their profit. It's a mess, and it shows no signs of getting better here or anywhere else CMS is present." Patricia Streeter, an attorney in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, called health care in the prisons "appalling." That lawsuit led Enslen to appoint Cohen to monitor health care in the Jackson prisons two years ago. Prison health care never was all that great, Streeter said, but in the nine years since CMS took over, it has deteriorated. "There are a lot of cases of misdiagnosis," she said. "They don't catch conditions quickly. Screening tests are ordered with no follow-up." Carla Ringleka's family believes her death Aug. 28 could have been prevented if doctors at the Robert Scott Correctional Facility had diagnosed her breast cancer and started treatment earlier. Ringleka, of Stanton, convicted of second-degree murder in the death of her husband, first complained of a lump in her right breast in February 2001, but a prison health-care worker dismissed it as "fatty tissue." Seven months later, a mammogram showed the lump was cancer, which by then had spread to her lungs, liver and bones. She died awaiting a decision on her request for a medical commutation. Robert Walsh, chief psychologist in the Jackson prisons at the time CMS took over, accused the company of "horrendous neglect." "There's a complete failure of the bureaucracy in the central office (of the Corrections Department) to monitor this contract," he said. Walsh, who retired in 1999, is helping Prison Legal Services, a nonprofit organization based in Jackson, prepare a report on the quality of prison health care. St. Louis-based CMS provides health care for some 250,000 inmates in 26 states and 300 facilities. In its home state of Missouri, inmates accused the company of intentionally delaying or denying care for life-threatening illnesses. CMS paid $525,000 to avoid prosecution for manslaughter in the death of a North Carolina inmate. Health care in Michigan's prisons was provided by state employees until 1997, when former Gov. John Engler's administration signed a 10-year contract with United Correctional Managed Care, a for-profit company in Anaheim, Calif. The following year, CMS bought some of United's assets and took over the contract. The idea was to stem the rapidly rising cost of health care for the state's growing prison population. Despite the privatization, the cost of prison health care continued to rise, from $115 million in 1997 to a projected $190 million in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The average annual cost of health care for each inmate rose from $2,573 in 1997 to $3,690 in 2005. Yet the Corrections Department boasts that since 1997, the state has saved $86 million on prisoner health care. The state pays CMS the actual cost of health care plus an administrative fee. The contract includes financial incentives for CMS to hold down costs, but Corrections Department officials insist the provision does not prompt CMS to deny care. Dr. Jerry Walden, an Ann Arbor physician and former medical director for a federal prison in Indiana, disagrees, claiming CMS has a financial incentive to delay and deny treatment for sick inmates. "I'd like to see them get rid of for-profit health care," said Walden, hired as an expert witness for the plaintiffs. A CMS spokesman denied the company delays or denies treatment to maximize its profits. "To the contrary," CMS spokesman Ken Fields said, "CMS health-care professionals are trained and encouraged to use their experience and judgment to decide what treatment is appropriate for a patient."

September 1, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Timothy Joe Souders died on Aug. 6, after spending most of his last four days bound naked to a steel bed in four-point restraints, soaked in his own urine. At 21, Souders' life was tragically short and, in many ways, just plain tragic. Mentally ill and unable to get help, Souders ended up alone and dead in a hot, segregated cell at Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson. His parents did not know how he died. Steven Souders and Theresa Vaughn of Adrian learned the details two weeks later from my Aug. 20 report in the Free Press. A woman who played bingo at the hall where Timothy Souders worked as a caller brought a copy of the paper to his memorial service that day. Steven Souders, 41, a journeyman machine repair worker, said the Michigan Department of Corrections told him his son died in his sleep. MDOC denies that, but Timothy Souders' death helped push Gov. Jennifer Granholm to order an overdue independent review of prison health care. His story touched a nerve in Michigan, which has closed most of its mental health facilities during the last few decades. Thousands of the state's mentally ill have ended up on the street or in homeless shelters, jails or prisons. Geoffrey Fieger's law firm will file a wrongful death lawsuit against MDOC employees and Correctional Medical Services Inc., attorney Paul Broschay told me this week. CMS is the private, Missouri-based company under contract for primary care physicians and other services in Michigan state prisons. Souders was screaming for help, but no one was listening. He went to prison on Nov. 1, having received a one- to four-year bit for assault, resisting arrest and destroying police property. It turned into a death sentence. Prison was no place for Souders, who had a bipolar disorder. He took medications for multiple conditions, including manic depression, psychosis and hypertension. Souders received seven misconduct reports: four for simply being out of place and another three for fighting, assaulting a prisoner and destroying property. Roughly 24% of Michigan's nearly 50,000 inmates have a history of mental illness, Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. MDOC must do a better job of accommodating them, including improving communication between security and health care staff, and between Corrections and the Department of Community Health. Mental health staff at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility tried to transfer Souders to Huron Valley Center in Ypsilanti, a psychiatric hospital for prisoners, but a transfer coordinator working for Community Health failed to move him. The state Health Department has reassigned that coordinator and is investigating the incident. Still, someone from Corrections, knowing Souders' condition, should have had enough sense or sympathy to pick up a phone and try to get him out of that segregated cell in Jackson. At one point, the heat index probably reached 106, and medications put Souders at high risk for heat-related injury or death.

August 28, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Gov. Jennifer Granholm took the right first step in ordering an independent review of state prison health care last week, following an investigation by the Free Press editorial page. Now she must make sure the review is done right. If not, longstanding practices will continue that endanger inmate health, encourage more lawsuits, invite further federal control of state prisons, and provide practically no oversight of the $280 million a year taxpayers spend on prison medical and mental health care. A proper review must include confidential interviews with current and former prison employees, as well as with the staff of outside hospitals under contract to treat inmates. People must feel free to speak their minds without fear of retaliation. Investigators must also talk confidentially with prisoners, who are too often discounted by prison medical staff. Prisoner advocacy groups such as Prison Legal Services of Michigan in Jackson and the American Friends Service Committee in Ann Arbor can provide valuable insights. They have worked on prison health care problems for years.

August 22, 2006 Daily Telegram
The parents of a former Adrian man who died this month in a Jackson prison say they’re angry about the way he was treated while in custody — and that it took an investigation by the Detroit Free Press for them to find out about it. Timothy Joe Souders, 21, died Aug. 6 at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility, where he was serving a 23-month to four-year sentence for felonious assault. He had pleaded guilty in June 2005 to stealing paintball equipment from the Adrian Meijer store and threatening store employees and a police officer with a knife. He was sentenced in October. The Free Press reported Sunday that Souders spent most of his last four days shackled to his bed in a hot cell despite being on medication that left him at high risk for heat-related injury or death — but the man’s father, Steven Souders of Adrian, said he was told only that his son had died in his sleep. “The state of Michigan has been lying to me since the day Timothy died,” Steven Souders said Monday. “They’re trying to cover up their wrongdoing.” But Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, said he believes proper procedures were followed when prison officials placed Souders in segregation and had him restrained. He said prisoners who are restrained in the manner Souders was held are monitored every 15 minutes and released every two hours for a bathroom break.

August 22, 2006 Detroit News
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has ordered an independent review of health care in Michigan prisons as a result of cases that included the Aug. 6 death of an inmate who had spent four days in an isolation cell. "The governor is very concerned about the issue of prison health care," said Granholm press secretary Liz Boyd. "We want to make sure the prisoners are getting proper care. We also want to make sure taxpayers' dollars are being wisely spent." The state's Corrections Department has a $70 million-a-year contract with Correctional Medical Services of Missouri to provide physical care to inmates and spends about $90 million annually on mental health services through community-based agencies. Both programs will undergo review. Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said the state has had its contract with Correctional Medical Services for 10 years. The company supplies prison doctors and other health care workers. It also negotiates contracts with specialized care providers outside the prison system.

August 21, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Michigan legislators remain blissfully ignorant about a big and growing part of the state budget, despite widespread evidence of almost criminal incompetence and negligence in how the money is spent. The state shells out $190 million a year on prison health care, including more than $70 million to Correctional Medical Services Inc., a controversial Missouri-based company, for primary care physicians and other services. But there's ample evidence, for anyone who cares to look, that the state is not only violating its constitutional duty to provide adequate medical care to prisoners, but also spending more on serious medical problems that could have been prevented. Just in the last week, I reported on a 41-year-old inmate who went home to die after prison doctors failed to treat his cancer, and another 21-year-old prisoner who died in Jackson, after spending most of his last four days strapped to a bed in four-point restraints in a hot cell. Michigan is inviting further court intervention into how it runs its nearly 50 prisons. Still, legislators have failed to provide real oversight. Even Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, one of the state's most capable, experienced and knowledgeable legislators, appeared clueless when I asked him recently about the issue. Practically the only information legislators receive on the CMS contract is a one-page summary twice a year. A July 1 report to the Legislature summed up the quality of prison health care in one sentence: "Investigation of prisoner grievances, family complaints and issues brought to the MDOC by legislators have assured that the quality of services provided by CMS meets MDOC expectations." That statement mocks the Michigan Department of Corrections' mantra of "Expecting Excellence Every Day." Court documents, medical records and interviews with dozens of prisoners and their advocates show that incompetent and negligent medical care, misdiagnoses, delayed or denied treatment, withheld pain medication and poor accommodations for people with disabilities are common in Michigan prisons -- and have been for decades. MDOC has been under a federal consent decree in a case called Hadix since 1985 to improve medical care and other conditions at state prisons in Jackson. Even so, medical care has probably gotten worse since 2000, when CMS took over the contract for primary care. CMS has maintained it "provides medical care that's evidence-backed and medically necessary, and those services are provided at the community standard of care." But there's plenty of evidence of serious, publicly reported problems with the company's performance in state prison systems around the country. A report filed this month in U.S. District Court by Dr. Jerry S. Walden of Ann Arbor, an expert witness in the Hadix case, concludes that Michigan's problems are getting worse, not better, and pose a serious health risk. Walden found that delays and disruptions in patient care were routine, sometimes resulting in death, and even basic medical records were poorly maintained and organized. Due to a "clerical error," Walden reports, almost no death certificates were recorded this spring for inmates who died in the Jackson prisons covered by the Hadix decree. Walden described the system as a "culture of failure," lacking leadership and unable to prevent unnecessary suffering and death. "I am convinced that the necessary leadership will never be in place until CMS is ousted," he concluded. Contact JEFF GERRITT at jgerritt@freepress.com or 313-222-6585.

August 20, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Timothy Joe Souders lived a hard life and, on Aug. 6, died an even harder death in a segregated prison cell in Jackson. Souders, 21, spent most of his last four days naked, without physician or psychiatric care, his arms and legs bound to a steel bed in four-point restraints. He was in a bare, all-steel isolation cell about the size of a walk-in closet. He went to the cell Aug. 2 because of unruly behavior. He lay in urine -- "agitated, disoriented, psychotic" -- as the cell felt close to 106 degrees at times, according to a report written by a federal monitor assigned to scrutinize medical care for Jackson prisons. Souders was found dead on his bed around 4 p.m., two hours after staff had removed his shackles. The death of the severely mentally ill inmate is a glaring example of a troubled state prison health care system, riddled with misdiagnoses, delayed or denied treatment and inadequate accommodations for people with disabilities. The Jackson prison complex, including the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility where Souders died, has been under federal oversight for more than 20 years. Corrections officials are investigating the death. Autopsy results might not be available for two or three weeks. The Michigan Attorney General's Office, which represents the Department of Corrections, disputed the account by the federal monitor, whose report this week brought Souders' death to light. "The governor's office is very concerned about the issue of prisoner health care," Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said Saturday. "We want to make sure that prisoners are getting appropriate health care and that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. Be assured, the issue of prisoner health care will be reviewed and, if changes are warranted, changes will be made." The Corrections Department had issued a heat alert the day Souders went into isolation. Such alerts are issued when the combined temperature and humidity index reaches 90 degrees. Alerts are supposed to trigger actions to ensure that inmates have adequate water and ventilation. Dr. Robert Cohen, the court-appointed monitor, uncovered Souders' death during a visit to the Jackson medical complex on Aug. 8-10. Disturbed by what he found, he issued a special report to U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen in Kalamazoo, who is enforcing federal oversight of the facilities. "Although the circumstances of Mr. S.' death overwhelmed my visit ... there are a number of additional continuing serious deficiencies in the medical program which require immediate attention, some of which may have contributed to the abject failure to provide Mr. S. with medical care," Cohen wrote. "There is a critical shortage of medical staff" at the Jackson facilities "and serious medical staff shortages throughout the medical program. This is an emergency situation which has gone on for too long and is having an extremely adverse effect on patient care." Souders' death was "predictable and preventible," Cohen wrote, "a terrible, unnecessary tragedy." Souders was serving a sentence of 1 to 4 years for resisting arrest, assault and destroying police property. Because he was taking medications for multiple medical conditions -- including manic-depression, psychosis and hypertension -- he was at high risk for heat-related injury or death, Cohen wrote. Still, a physician did not see him from the time he was restrained until he died. He was seen and monitored by nurses, however, Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. Mental health staff at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility tried to transfer Souders to Huron Valley Center in Ypsilanti, a psychiatric hospital for prisoners, but he wasn't moved, Marlan said. At least one person involved in the transfer has been removed, Marlan said. The department is reviewing policies on prisoner restraint. In June, the Free Press reported on Lloyd Byron Martell, whose cancerous polyp had gone untreated. Martell, 41, was sent home last week to die. In response to Souders' death, Cohen called an emergency meeting Wednesday with prison administrators, resulting in some of the Department of Corrections review. Cohen's investigation could take weeks and will include a review of tapes, incident reports and medical records. Critics say the Legislature, governor and correction officials have failed to properly oversee the $190 million a year the state spends on prison medical care, including the state's $70-million contract with Correctional Medical Services Inc. "Responsibility is so dispersed between state agencies, a private contractor, line staff and administrators," said Sandra Bailiff Girard, executive director of Prison Legal Services of Michigan. "No one is held responsible -- so there's little incentive to follow the rules." Contact JEFF GERRITT at jgerritt@freepress.com or 313-222-6585.

August 16, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Wearing prison khakis and a white T-shirt, Lloyd Byron Martell limped off a Greyhound bus in downtown Detroit Tuesday afternoon, looking tired but oh so happy. Smiling, he pushed a raggedy wheelchair with a cardboard box in the seat that held his medical supplies, including a month's worth of morphine and colostomy bags. Free at last, Martell walked into his mother's arms and stayed there, quietly, for a minute, before reaching over her shoulder and shaking his stepfather's hand. "Made it," I heard him say. At 41, Martell has less than a year to live. His colon cancer has spread to his chest and the relentless beast can't be stopped. Still, his worst fear is over: He won't die in a state prison in Jackson. He was released Tuesday. Like hundreds of inmates, Martell got a double sentence: one handed down by the court, another executed by the lame prison healthcare system. In Martell's case, a one- to four-year bit in 2004 for fleeing a police officer turned into a death sentence. Martell, driving with a suspended license, took off after Redford police tried to pull him over for a broken rear window. It was a knucklehead move, but he didn't deserve to die for it. I first wrote about Martell on June 19, revealing that his cancer probably could have been contained if doctors had treated it 20 months ago. In December 2004, Martell had what he thought was a hemorrhoid lanced. Medical records show it was actually a cancerous polyp that doctors ignored. His story became part of a Free Press investigation into the medical care provided by the Michigan Department of Corrections and Correctional Medical Services Inc. of Missouri, a private for-profit company under contract to provide primary care physicians and other services. In hundreds of cases, diseases have been misdiagnosed, undiagnosed or treatment is delayed or denied. When I talked to Martell's mother, Donna Martin, three weeks ago, she thought her son might die in prison. Martell was scheduled for a parole hearing on July 11, but the department canceled it because of a clerical error, rescheduling it for Aug. 15. Delaying Martell's release was inexcusable. He's dying, he's a non-violent offender and he had already served his minimum sentence. With all the grievances he was filing and the medical care he required, Corrections should have been happy to let him go. I called Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan, planning to write a column, and the department moved up the hearing to Aug. 2. He got his parole. Without help, however, sick and dying inmates have practically no way out. Their families are the only outside people who know, and they can't even get a return phone call from prison medical staff. At least Martell will die at home, surrounding by people who love him. Monday was a good day for Martin, 60, who lives with her husband, German Martin, in Dearborn. Almost giddy, she told me about the food she bought for Martell's welcome-home dinner: chicken and dumplings, chocolate chip cookies. She picked up a toothbrush, deodorant, mouthwash, shower gel, shampoo, razors, sheets, pillows and a comforter for the bed. "He's going to get anything he wants today," Martin said. What Martell wants before he dies is a little peace -- and justice. He's filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against CMS and the state. He stood in the Greyhound lobby, filled with joy and rage. "They tried to kill me in there, but it's not over," Martell told me, losing the smile for a minute. "It's going to be a short battle but a good one." For the next few hours, though, he enjoyed the moment: the Whopper his mother bought for him on the way home, his chicken-and-dumplings dinner, the fresh clean sheets and pillow he lay on. Today, the work that will fill the rest of his days begins. He and his mother will need to arrange medical care, as well as Social Security and Medicaid benefits. They'll shop for new clothes, too, something without prisoner No. 335246 on it. Martell will never get back his health but he has regained his freedom. On Tuesday afternoon, that was enough. JEFF GERRITT is a Free Press editorial writer. Contact him at gerritt@freepress.com or 313-222-6585.

June 23, 2006 Detroit Free Press
No one fully understands the state of medical care in Michigan prisons, but snapshots of that system from an investigation by Jeff Gerritt of the Free Press editorial board suggest it's dangerously dysfunctional. Legislators should not wait until the state's contract with Correctional Medical Services Inc. ends on March 31. They must provide more oversight now or invite further court intervention in the prison system, encourage costly lawsuits and perpetuate a standard of care that is inhumane and unconstitutional. Medical records, court documents and interviews with inmates and advocates show longstanding systemic problems with the medical care delivered to Michigan's 50,000 inmates. These include misdiagnosis, delayed or denied treatment and inadequate accommodation for people with disabilities. Legislators can start fixing these problems by appointing a medical ombudsman to investigate hundreds of inmate complaints about health care. That office should employ a physician, or at least have access to consultants who are doctors or medical experts. A medical ombudsman has become even more necessary since the Legislature closed the general office of the Corrections ombudsman in 2003. Now, the worst abuses stand little chance of even getting heard. Second, the state should create a streamlined grievance process for prisoner medical complaints. General grievance procedures are lengthy, cumbersome and often ineffective -- definitely not suited for addressing issues that potentially mean life or death. Finally, lawmakers ought to order a review of prison healthcare to determine how CMS is performing. They should ensure that Corrections exercises proper oversight and that state health care administrators wield the authority to change how CMS operates. Now, the Legislature receives practically no information about CMS, even though the Missouri-based company receives roughly $65 million a year from Michigan taxpayers. A prison sentence rightfully deprives an offender of his freedom. But it ought not subject prisoners to aggravated health problems, unnecessary suffering and even death. In one case, an inmate serving a one- to four-year sentence for fleeing a police officer was diagnosed with cancer but not treated for nearly a year. He now has only a year to live. A veritable death sentence for a minor crime is unjust by any standard of decency, and legislators can no longer claim they don't know. To refuse to act now is practically criminal.

June 19, 2006 Detroit Free Press
Michigan doesn't have the death penalty, but the state of health care in its prison system makes you wonder. Prisoners who get lousy health care don't get much sympathy from politicians or the public, especially when so many people on the outside are uninsured and struggling to get decent care. Still, most people would agree that negligent medical care leading to serious health problems, virtual torture and, yes, even death should not be part of a prison sentence. It has happened, though, over and over, to hundreds and perhaps thousands of inmates. More than 95% of the 50,000 people in state prisons will eventually get out and go back to their hometowns and families. It would be better for everyone, from relatives to taxpayers, if they returned in reasonably good health and not, for example, with untreated infectious diseases such as hepatitis C. Yet the quality of prison health care seems to have gotten worse since 2000, when the state contracted with Correctional Medical Services Inc. for primary care physicians and other services. It should be getting better. The Michigan Department of Corrections has been under a federal consent decree since 1985 to improve medical care and other conditions at prisons in Jackson. "The medical neglect seems worse, not better," Patricia Streeter of Ann Arbor, an attorney for the prisoners in the Hadix case, told me. "CMS has not adequately supervised its doctors or made timely specialist referrals, and MDOC appears unwilling or unable to see that it does." Medical records, court documents and rulings, and interviews with inmates and advocates show a pattern of misdiagnosis, delayed or denied treatment, withheld pain medication and inadequate accommodations for people with disabilities. "If you read the Hadix findings, any individual case might be egregious, but it's the systematic failure that's gut-wrenching -- that really turns your stomach," said Paul Reingold, director of the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program, which handles prisoner rights cases. Last year, a diabetic inmate died after suffering at least 15 episodes of hypoglycemia, some so severe he fell unconscious. "Crisis after crisis occurred, and yet his caregivers did not implement a coordinated care plan," Dr. Jerry Walden, the prisoners' medical expert, wrote in a sworn statement in federal court. Despite the health problems, nurses transferred the inmate back to the general prison population in early 2005. "Sadly, CMS, MDOC and nursing can each point a finger and nothing will change," Walden stated. "There is a system problem and one that ... leadership needs to address." In examining 16 recent prison deaths, Walden found patients with life-threatening diseases who were kept in their cells. Others suffered unnecessary episodes of severe hypoglycemia. One prisoner was taken off his inhaler despite chronic heart disease and failure, and another suffered an almost two-year delay in the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer. Corrections administrators say most inmates are healthier and getting better medical care than they did when they were free. But even the poorest person outside prison has options that prisoners don't CMS spokesman Ken Fields said he couldn't comment specifically on individual cases, but said CMS "provides medical care that's evidence-backed and medically necessary, and those services are provided at the community standard of care." The company, founded in 1979 and based in St. Louis, Mo., has prison and jail health care contracts in 26 states, with 80 employees in Michigan. Corrections says CMS has performed adequately and saved the state nearly $10 million a year, partly by negotiating cost-effective specialty care contracts with outside physicians. But sworn statements by experts filed in federal court in 2002, after reviewing thousands of documents, showed that dozens of prisoners with urgent and emergency symptoms were not seen for days. Nor did nurses respond properly to written medical requests, sometimes called kites. In some cases, treatment denied or delayed meant unnecessary suffering. A patient with a suspected broken shoulder had an appointment scheduled six days after his written request. One patient vomiting blood was not seen for five days. An inmate requesting a four-point cane because he kept falling and injuring himself did not get an appointment. In other cases, poor medical care probably led to death. Earlier this month, Dr. Robert Cohen, the associate monitor on medical issues for Hadix, informed U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen of Kalamazoo that many prisoners with chronic medical problems, including seizure disorders, HIV infection, hypertension and diabetes, had not received their medications for about five days. You won't hear much about any of these cases. Screwups and poor quality care are shielded by the secrecy of prison life in general, the confidentiality of medical records, and the rights to withhold information that private companies enjoy, even when they get millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Malpractice suits, which could discourage poor medical practices, have little effect on prisons. Unsympathetic juries, hurdles to getting inmates' medical records, and compensation caps under the Prison Litigation Reform Act discourage attorneys from taking any but the most serious and clear-cut cases.

April 22, 2004
Hepatitis C infection among Michigan prisoners is less widespread than feared -- affecting an estimated 13.8 percent of the population -- a new study finds, but the state still needs millions to treat inmates at risk of developing liver failure, corrections officials say.  "I am highly skeptical because it's so out of whack with what other states have found, and there's no good independent reason why Michigan should be any different than any other state," said David Santacroce, an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan who has reviewed 200 records of infected inmates.  Santacroce and other critics charge that Michigan corrections officials and a private company the state uses for medical care, Correctional Medical Services based in St. Louis, Missouri, are not treating inmates properly.  "There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people dying of this disease because the Michigan Department of Corrections and their primary health provider, CMS, does not want to spend the money," Santacroce said.  (Lansing Bureau)

Michigan Legislature
April 30, 2012 Detroit News
A proposal to close an Ionia prison and transfer inmates to a privately owned facility has sparked a debate within the ranks of Republican lawmakers about whether only government should be in the incarceration business. At least one GOP lawmaker believes privately run prisons could be as significant a change in how prisons are run as charter schools were to public education. "Everybody sharpens their pencils and looks at a new way of doing things when they have competition," said Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland. But legislation authorizing the Department of Corrections to contract with a multinational company to house convicts in its rural west Michigan correctional facility has been stalled for months because there are not enough Republican votes in the House to pass the bill, Haveman said. "To give up the entire running of a prison, I think, is giving up too much control," said Rep. Mike Callton, a Republican from Nashville in Barry County, who has constituents who work in Ionia's five prisons. To bypass opponents like Callton, Republican budget writers, instead of trying to get a law passed in the GOP-dominated House, added a provision to the proposed 2012-13 Department of Corrections budget requiring the department to close the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia and accept bids for a privately run prison. The budget plan assumes $7.1 million in net savings to the department's $2 billion budget under the plan. The department doesn't support shuttering the 1,300-bed prison and wasn't consulted, spokesman Russ Marlan said. "We feel a closure isn't needed," the department's legislative liaison, Jessica Peterson, recently told the House Appropriations Committee. Following the January closing of Mound Correctional Facility in Detroit, Corrections Director Dan Heyns had said the agency would not need to close any more prisons in the near future. Geo Group Inc., a Boca Raton, Fla., corrections company, is trying to reopen its 1,740-bed North Lake Correctional Facility near Baldwin after a plan to house California prisoners fizzled. The Lake County facility is specifically identified in the two stalled House bills as a location for a privately run prison. Geo Group's lobbyist is former House Speaker Rick Johnson, R-Leroy.

February 8, 2012 Detroit News
A law requiring contractors to pay prisoners minimum wage is holding up a privatization push meant to shave up to $93 million from the state Corrections budget this year, officials confirmed Tuesday. Requests for proposals to privatize roughly $400 million in prison services were put on hold in January after a review by Attorney General Bill Schuette's office revealed private contractors using prisoners for kitchen, janitorial and other duties would have to pay Michigan's $7.40 an hour minimum wage — 10 times what unskilled prisoner employees are paid by the state. Prisoner pay is one of a number of legal issues raised by attorneys after Gov. Rick Snyder made turning over certain prison services to private companies a priority in this year's budget. Snyder is to unveil on Thursday his budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. He's expected to make public safety and Corrections one of his priorities, along with education and transportation. State law also prohibits private contractors from using any state assets — from kitchen stoves to prison buildings — without compensating the state, according to Russ Marlan, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections. "Our (requests for proposals) are all tied up still with the AG's office, and the fix here is going to require some statutory changes, so they're going to be tied up for a while," Marlan said. "By statute, if state prisoners are used for labor, they have to be paid minimum wage. They can't even use state assets as a private contractor. We'd have to declare all of that property surplus and sell it."

Oaks Correctional Facility
Eastlake, Michigan
Wexford, Correctional Medical Services

December 1, 2004 Lundington Daily News
A former Oaks Correctional Facility physician pleaded guilty to four counts of tax evasion with a total tax liability of $139,794. Dr. Daniel Smalley, 56, formerly of Wellston now of Ludington, is scheduled for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 22, 2005 at the Lansing Federal Building.  On June 28, 2004, Smalley was arrested at the Baltimore Washington International Airport, in Baltimore, Maryland, after returning from Ghana, West Africa. According to a complaint filed in June 2004, during the years 1997 through 2002, Smalley was employed at both the Baraga Correctional Facility, Baraga, and at the Oaks Correctional Facility, Eastlake, working for several different companies, including Genesys Integrated Group, Wexford Health Services, the State of Michigan, and Correctional Medical Services. In 1996 and 1997, Smalley provided Genesys with what U.S. attorneys are calling a false W-4 form, claiming to be exempt from all federal income taxes. In 2002, the IRS submitted a notice of levy to Correctional Medical Services to collect taxes due and owing from his wages. Each count of conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

South Haven
South Haven, Michigan
Wackenhut (now Group 4)

October 1, 2012 AP
The Supreme Court won't let the family of a raped and murdered college girl sue the employer of her killers for her 1979 death. The high court on Monday refused to let the parents of Janet Chandler sue Wackenhut Corp., which in 1979 was hired to send security guards to Holland, Mich., to provide security during a strike.

February 16, 2010 Grand Rapids News
Less than a month after a federal judge rejected James and Glenna Chandler's bid to punish the security company that employed five men convicted of killing their daughter in Holland in 1979, the couple has filed an appeal, pushing their case forward. Janet Chandler's father filed the appeal Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District in Cincinnati, records show. The Chandlers have claimed Wackenhut Corp. -- which employed five of the six people convicted of Janet Chandler's slaying -- did not conduct sufficient employee background checks, or properly supervise their workers. They also contended Wackenhut helped hide the employees' involvement in the murder, which took nearly three decades to solve. The family was seeking cash damages for the mental pain and suffering inflicted by the death of Janet, a 22-year-old Hope College student. On Jan. 19, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff dismissed the Chandlers' claims against the Florida security firm, which hired guards during a strike at a Holland area plant. Neff said the allegations were filed after a three-year statute of limitations.

July 31, 2009 Grand Rapid Press
The state Court of Appeals has rejected the appeals of four men convicted in the 1979 killing of Janet Chandler, the 23-year-old Hope College student who was abducted, raped and slain by Wackenhut Corp. security guards. She worked as the overnight clerk at the former Blue Mill Inn in Holland when she became acquainted with the Wackenhut workers who were providing security at a local plant during a labor strike. She was taken to a guest house where she was brutalized, her body later dumped near South Haven. The 22-page ruling, upholding the convictions of James "Bubba" Nelson, 62, Freddie Parker, 52, Arthur Paiva, 57, and Anthony Robert Eugene Williams, 58, came this morning, about two weeks after attorneys presented arguments before the state Court of Appeals. All were convicted of first-degree murder and are serving life sentences without hope for parole. Two others, Laurie Swank and Robert Lynch, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified for the prosecution. They are serving lesser sentences. A cold-case team of Holland police and state police detectives cracked a code of silence that kept the case unsolved nearly three decades as the suspects scattered around the country after the strike ended.

July 14, 2009 WOOD TV
Four men convicted in the rape and murder of Janet Chandler will have their appeals heard in court Tuesday. James Nelson, Anthony Williams, Freddie Parker and Arthur "Carl" Paiva each filed appeals for various reasons. Nelson claims there was insufficient evidence proven to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt; Williams claims his due process was violated and he was identified through "impermissibly suggestive" methods. He also claims he was denied a fair trial by being tried jointly with the others; Parker claims his counsel was ineffective, and that the court abused its discretion in denying separate trials.; and Paiva claims his Sixth Amendment rights to confrontation were denied. Those four, plus Robert Lynch and Laurie Swank, were convicted late in 2007 of murdering Chandler, a Hope College student working at the Blue Mill Inn in Holland, in 1979. Chandler was kidnapped and taken to a guest house where she was repeatedly raped, tortured, then finally died after being strangled with a belt. Her body was dumped along I-196 near South Haven. In December 2008, James and Glenna Chandler, Janet's parents, filed a lawsuit against the Wackenhut Corporation, the company for which Nelson, Williams, Parker and Paiva worked.

December 18, 2008 Holland Sentinel
The family of Janet Chandler — the 22-year-old woman gang-raped and murdered in 1979 by a group of security guards — filed a civil lawsuit in federal court Wednesday, Dec. 17, alleging that the security company did not properly investigate backgrounds of its employees. In the complaint, the Chandlers allege that the Wackenhut Corporation’s negligent hiring practices caused mental pain and suffering for the family. “An appropriate investigation would have revealed the unsuitability of the involved employees for the particular duty to be performed or for employment in general,” the lawsuit states. It also states that Janet Chandler’s murder is a result of the company’s negligence. The Chandlers asked for at least $75,000 from the Wackenhut Corporation. Jurors convicted former Wackenhut security supervisor Arthur Carlton Paiva of first-degree murder for his role in the murder in November 2007. In addition, Paiva was also found guilty of felony murder during a kidnapping and felony murder during a criminal sexual assault. Former guards James Nelson, Freddie Parker and Anthony Williams were each convicted of second-degree murder, felony murder during criminal sexual assault and felony murder during a kidnapping. All four men are serving life terms in prison without parole. Two others — Robert Lynch and Laurie Ann Swank — pleaded guilty to lesser charges. All had been working at the Blue Mill Inn on Jan. 31, 1979, the night Janet Chandler, a Hope College student and desk clerk at the motel, was abducted and taken to a Holland Township party where the security guards raped, strangled and killed her.

November 2, 2007 Grand Rapid Press
As they sifted though the many details of Janet Chandler's murder, jurors who convicted four of her attackers Thursday said they found themselves stepping back and forth in time. Jurors said they rattled off the names of the suspects in Chandler's 1979 murder, one by one. They looked at statements made to investigators in the early days of the investigation, then compared them with information gathered recently by a cold-case team. Sorting through 28 years of faded memories and disturbing images tucked away in the recesses of witnesses' minds, the jury determined it all pointed to deliberate planning by Arthur "Carl" Paiva and a band of Wackenhut security guards who were found guilty of murder for the Hope College student's strangulation. "All the statements given by the suspects and the others who were interviewed led back to (Paiva)," said Thomas Foley, a Grand Haven Township man who was the jury's foreman. "They all connected him to the planning, to what happened and how it happened." The trial, which saw its first witness take the stand Oct. 18, wrapped up after a day and a half of deliberations by the jury. As Foley Thursday night announced guilty verdicts against Paiva, Anthony Williams, Freddie Parker and James Nelson that will land them a mandatory life sentence in prison, Janet Chandler's mother, Glenna Chandler, broke down in tears. Call it years of anguish coupled with an immense sense of relief, said David Schock, a Chandler family friend and former Hope College professor credited with renewing interest in the case. A documentary produced by Schock's class four years ago prompted the inquiry by a four-person cold case team. "These (the Chandler family) are strong people who have lived the last 28 years of their lives moment by moment," Schock said. "It's been a long road for them, and only their faith sustained them. It sustained all of us who wanted justice for Janet." Glenna Chandler and her husband, James, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. The Muskegon couple sat through two weeks of testimony that depicted a brutal murder and allegations that their daughter had led a double life. The 22-year-old aspiring singer and devout Christian also was involved in sexual relationships and partying with guards working at a Holland Township industrial strike, according to testimony. Chandler's body was found the day after her disappearance, nude and half-buried in a snowbank near South Haven. The guards, who stayed at the Blue Mill Inn, long had been suspected in the slaying, but what witnesses described as a code of silence -- sometimes backed by death threats -- stymied investigators. The end of the strike dispersed those involved, complicating the initial probe into Chandler's abduction during what appeared to be a robbery at the Blue Mill, where she worked. Two other people involved in the killing, guard Robert Lynch and Chandler's co-worker and roommate Laurie Swank, eventually confessed to the crime and implicated others. Family members of the defendants, who sat stone-faced upon hearing their guilty verdicts, declined to comment as they left the courtroom. Paiva was convicted of first-degree murder while the other defendants were found guilty of felony murder stemming from the kidnapping and sexual assault. Each carries a life term. Paiva's relatives embraced and consoled each other, while a sister of Parker briefly needed medical attention before leaving. Parker's son shouted angrily at a television crew as he walked to his vehicle. "It's a difficult thing for anyone to handle," said Joe Legatz, who defended Nelson. Legatz said the resources allocated by the state attorney general's office and local investigators stacked the odds against the four defendants. "It was a significant challenge, but I'm not going to sit here and whine about it," he said. "It's my feeling that we raised reasonable doubt and that the prosecution witnesses just kind of brought (Nelson) into it through 29 years of trying to forget. "You can't second-guess a juror and what they felt. Whether there are appellate issues to take up, I guess that's the next step." Holland Police Chief John Kruithoff said he hopes the verdict brings "peace and closure to the Janet Chandler family." Other authorities involved in the case, including prosecutors, refused to comment until a news conference today. James Fairbanks, the lead detective on the murder case in January 1979, became emotional at the end of Thursday's proceedings. Like the Chandlers, he waited years for finality. "It's about time. I regret we couldn't have done it sooner," said Fairbanks, now retired. "We finally got them. It was a long, long hard road. "It's something I never forgot. Janet Chandler was always in my mind since it happened." Jurors said statements obtained in 1979 by Fairbanks and other detectives helped when evaluating the veracity of witnesses' testimony. "There wasn't much hard evidence, but all the documentation (then) helped show the differences," Foley said. "There was intent and planning, and Paiva was connected to it more than anyone else." Schock, the former Hope professor, expressed a satisfaction at the finding. At the same time, he was dazed by the covert nature of up to a dozen witnesses to the rape and murder. "I'm always stunned by evil," he said. "How can you not be stunned by that?" He said the Chandler family holds no malice toward Janet's killers. They realize the profound impact this has had on their lives and how it will take them from their families. "They are gratified by justice, but there is no joy," he said. A Dateline NBC television crew, producing a segment on the Chandler investigation, asked Schock if he ever dreamed of an end to the case. He responded that he had, and he was inspired by the victim's family's faith. "Faith is the hope for things unseen," Schock said. "You work for something that may lead to nothing, but if you don't take the risk, if you don't believe, you get nothing."

October 23, 2007 Grand Rapids Press
They witnessed Janet Chandler's brutal rape and murder, then kept a "code of silence" for 27 years to protect themselves. Former Wackenhut security guards who worked with four men now on trial for Chandler's 1979 murder could take the stand as early as Tuesday. Harry Keith and Glenn Johnson have testified at earlier hearings against defendants in the Chandler murder case and today were in the Ottawa County Prosecutor's Office to prepare for testimony. In the past, Keith has corroborated other witness accounts that several guards assaulted Chandler at a house on Lake Macatawa, choking her with a belt until she died. Specifically, he earlier testified he saw Robert Lynch on top of Chandler, slapping and hitting her as his knees pinned her shoulders down. He was pulling up on a belt around Chandler's neck until she went limp, Keith testified. Lynch already has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. Prosecutors say Lynch, Arthur Paiva, Freddie Parker, James Nelson and Anthony Williams were former Wackenhut guards, in Holland patrolling a strike at the Chemetron plant, when they took part in Chandler's slaying. All but Paiva were staying at the Blue Mill Inn where Chandler, 22, worked as a night desk clerk. Paiva stayed at a Chemetron guest house on Howard Avenue, the site of a Jan. 31 party where authorities say the guards and former inn supervisor Laurie Swank carried out a plan to "teach (Chandler) a lesson" for her alleged sexual relations with numerous guards. Keith, Lynch's roommate at the Blue Mill Inn, earlier testified he saw "Bob standing next to the body, poking and pushing it, making sure if she was alive or dead." Johnson was a captain with Wackenhut and said he saw Nelson take Chandler from her job at the inn and put her blindfolded into a van. Johnson, who uses a wheelchair after two strokes, explained the "code of silence" among guards at an earlier hearing. He said the guards stuck together to protect each other after the slaying. In addition to former guards, maids who once worked at the Blue Mill Inn are expected to testify this week.

October 18, 2007 Grand Rapids Press
A prosecutor this morning described the Janet Chandler murder as "so ruthless, so savage, so horrific that I guarantee it will make your skin crawl" as jurors listened to her opening statement. Assistant Attorney General Donna Pendergast likened the 22-year-old woman's murder to a movie, describing what testimony will show as "terror, torture, and a savage rape and brutal murder. "This trial will tell the story of a lurid tale of decadent behavior, a tale of rape and revenge," she told jurors. Four former security guards with the Wackenhut Security Corp. are on trial for the murder of Chandler on Jan. 31, 1979. Defense attorneys hinted at what their arguments will be in their opening statements. Floyd Farmer, representing Arthur Paiva, suggested other witnesses are lying about Paiva's participation in the murder, because he was disliked by other guards. Farmer also said Lori Swank, who already has pleaded guilty in the crime, was upset with Paiva and implicated him. Defendant Freddie Parker's attorney said witnesses will testify Parker was in West Virginia on Jan. 31, 1979. Attorneys for Anthony Williams also said few witnesses named their client as being there.

May 21, 2007 Muskegon Chronicle
As the trial date for four suspects in the Janet Chandler "cold case" murder creeps closer, one is asking for a separate trial to keep the others from blaming him. At the same time, another suspect tried to proclaim his innocence in a letter to Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge Ed Post. The legal wrangling among Freddie Parker, 50; Arthur Paiva, 54; James "Bubba" Nelson, 59; and Anthony Eugene Williams, 59, may intensify this summer as the Oct. 16 murder trial approaches. All are accused of raping and murdering Chandler, a 22-year-old Hope College student who worked as a night-desk clerk at the Blue Mill Inn in January 1979. Chandler's naked body was found in a snowbank in the Int. 196 median near Covert. The four men were Wackenhut Corp. security guards patrolling a strike at two Chemetron facilities in Holland and staying at the inn. Their biggest obstacle at trial will be trying to discredit eyewitness testimony from Laurie Swank, 49, a former Blue Mill Inn supervisor who already has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and awaits sentencing. Another former guard, Robert Michael Lynch, 67, also has admitted he took part in the murder and is serving a minimum 25-year prison sentence. Parker, 50, is tentatively asking Post for a separate trial over worries that Paiva, Nelson and Williams will try to blame him and each other for the murder.

March 29, 2007 Muskegon Chronicle
Freddie Parker, one of six suspects in the 28-year-old murder of Janet Chandler, long has insisted he was not in Michigan when the Blue Mill Inn night clerk died. But his former girlfriend testified in court Wednesday that he took part in the brutal rape, torture and slaying of Chandler, a 22-year-old Hope College student from Muskegon. Diane Marsman, an inn maid in January 1979, said Parker was one of several Wackenhut security guards she saw raping Chandler before she died, bound with a belt around her neck. Later, shortly before Chandler's funeral, Parker and several guards met at the inn and gloated about the incident. "They were like bragging and boasting about what they did to Janet," Marsman said. "What they did to her and how they gave it to her." Parker, 50, who was extradited from West Virginia last month to join five other suspects charged with killing Chandler, was in the Holland branch of Ottawa County's 58th District Court for a probable cause hearing Wednesday. Judge Brad Knoll adjourned the hearing to an April date after Marsman's testimony because two Michigan State Police troopers and Ottawa County Medical Examiner Dr. David Start were unavailable to testify. Parker, who fought extradition, is the last of the suspects still at the district court level.

February 5, 2007 The Grand Rapids Press
Janet Chandler's former boss and roommate -- a woman who admitted to instigating the fatal attack on Chandler out of jealousy -- pleaded guilty today to second-degree murder. Laurie Swank, 49, earlier admitted she was involved in meetings with Wackenhut Security guards who plotted to "take care of (Chandler)" because they were angry with the 23-year-old clerk at the Blue Mill Inn. In a surprise move last month, Swank accepted a plea deal for a minimum 10-year sentence and provided key testimony against three other suspects in the Chandler murder. Swank today read a statement before Ottawa County Circuit Judge Ed Post, who accepted her guilty plea. In a monotone voice, Swank admitted to being in the room when Chandler died. "Janet was being raped against her will. There was also a belt around her neck, and others were applying pressure to it," Swank said. "For a period of time while I was there I encouraged the participants to continue while Janet went in and out of consciousness." Swank is one of six people charged in January 1979 murder, where Chandler was raped, tortured and eventually strangled to death with a belt. Wackenhut guards, patrolling a strike at Chemetron Pigments and staying at the Blue Mill Inn, took her from her night clerk's post at the inn to a guest house on Chemetron property in Holland Township. There, she was sexually assaulted and tortured for hours until she died. Her body was dumped in a snowbank in the Int. 196 median near Covert.

January 22, 2007 The Grand Rapids Press
Robert Michael Lynch, the first suspect charged in the Janet Chandler murder, was sentenced to 25 to 40 years in prison Monday as Chandler's crying parents looked on. "You, Mr. Lynch, took her life, but you never took her soul," said Chandler's mother, Glenna. "God will be your final judge, not us. May he have mercy." James Chandler, her father, thanked those who cracked his daughter's 28-year-old murder, including the police cold-case team and Hope College students who filmed a documentary. "What can I say to people that have no conscience and no regard to human life," James Chandler said, weeping before he and his wife left the Ottawa County Circuit courtroom. Lynch's sentence was predetermined before today's hearing. Lynch pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in December. Lynch said little at Monday's sentencing, except to offer a brief apology to the Chandler family. "I hope the family rests in peace and I also ask for forgiveness from Janet," he said. When Lynch, 67, was arrested in February 2006, police described him as a ringleader in the murder. Janet Chandler, 23, was a night clerk at the Blue Mill Inn at U.S. 31 and 16th Street when she went missing Jan. 31, 1979, in an apparent abduction and robbery. A four-person cold-case team assembled in 2004 began tracking leads involving several security guards staying at the inn and eventually determined they raped and strangled Chandler. Court documents and earlier testimony showed the guards were motivated by jealousy and anger toward Chandler, who allegedly was intimately involved with several guards. The guards, with Wackenhut Security, were in Holland to patrol a strike at the Chemetron property in Holland Township.

January 19, 2007 The Grand Rapids Press
At the heart of a 27-year murder mystery, the memory of Hope College student Janet Chandler is overrun by lurid, disturbing testimony of relationships with suspects in her rape and killing. But her family's memory of Chandler is locked in time as a beautiful daughter, sister and niece whose singing once echoed in their church. She is still Dennis Chandler's big sister. "She was always trying to look out for her younger brother," the 46-year-old said Thursday, outside Holland District Court. "I remember her singing at weddings and church, and everything else. That's the side we all know." Another side aired Thursday as witnesses, in a probable-cause hearing, described the plot to kill Chandler, 23, then a night clerk at the former Blue Mill Inn in Holland. She allegedly angered others by having relationships with out-of-state Wackenhut guards in town to provide security at the striking Chemetron Corp. Witnesses said Chandler was handcuffed, led away from the hotel and taken to a Chemetron guest house in Holland Township. With a belt around her neck, her wrists and ankles bound and tape covering her mouth and eyes, she was beaten on the head and repeatedly raped, they said. The attack took hours before her body finally went limp. Her body turned up the next day, Feb. 1, 1979, in a snow-covered median on Int. 196 near South Haven. Although many witnessed or took part in the crime, everyone, a judge said, "for reasons that this court finds absolutely astounding," stayed silent until a team of state police and Holland police detectives reopened the investigation about three years ago. The first arrested, Robert Lynch, 67, of Three Oaks, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and awaits sentencing. A second suspect, Laurie Swank, 48, of Pennsylvania, will plead guilty to second-degree murder and faces 10 to 20 years in prison. She testified for the prosecution. James "Bubba" Nelson, 59, of West Virginia, Anthony Eugene Williams, 55, of Wisconsin, and Arthur "Carl" Paiva, 54, of Muskegon, were ordered by Holland District Judge Bradley Knoll to stand trial in Ottawa County Circuit Court. All are charged with first-degree murder. Freddie Parker, 50, is fighting extradition in West Virginia. Former hotel maid Diane Marsman said guards planned a "gangbang" because Chandler was "sleeping with other guards." She said Nelson led Chandler, her arms in handcuffs behind her back, from the hotel. She saw men raping her before Chandler died. "We were told, we were threatened, not to tell anybody." The code of silence crumbled long after relationships ended. At the defense table, the suspects showed no apparent ties to one another. Witnesses, with hazy recollections or "dream-like" memories, used old photos to identify the suspects. "It's been a long time -- I do not know these people," Swank testified. She was the hotel manager and Chandler's roommate. She said Chandler's popularity with the guards, particularly Paiva, made her jealous. Guards planned a "surprise party," Swank said. "They were going to be putting her into her place, so to speak. ... They were going to (rape) her to death." At the Chemetron guest house, used by Paiva, the supervisor, 10 to 15 people were drinking and smoking marijuana. Chandler was bound, with a belt around her neck. Swank said she watched men beat and rape her. Swank called her a name. Lynch was pulling the belt when someone said, "She's dead," she said. Swank said she ran out, and was threatened with harm if she told police what happened. Lynch, facing 25 years in prison, was waiting in the wings Thursday, but his testimony was not needed. Defense attorneys noted witnesses repeatedly lied to police and suggested that detectives planted ideas or coerced testimony. "Would you agree the evolution of your story has been, in large part, a product of pressure put on you by investigating police officers?" attorney Steven Fishman, representing Williams, asked a witness. According to testimony, others not charged also had attacked Chandler. Police said the investigation is ongoing but would not comment on additional suspects. The allegations are difficult for Chandler's family, including parents James and Glenna. But nothing has been easy since their daughter died. They relied on their faith. They don't believe everything said about her. They asked for justice. "The bottom line is, she was kidnapped, raped and murdered," brother Dennis Chandler said. "Everybody, you know, they're going to have to face judgment some day. They have had 27 years to come forward. Nobody did. Obviously, nobody did."

January 18, 2007 The Grand Rapids Press
Hope College student Janet Chandler died in 1979 of ligature strangulation consistent with a belt being tightened around her neck, a medical examiner testified today in Holland District Court. In a hearing of evidence against the suspects charged in the slaying, Dr. David Start testified about his review of an autopsy report. His findings were questioned by one defense attorney, who suggested Chandler may have been accidentally strangled to death during a voluntary sex act. "I don't know the motives of those involved. All I know is she died of strangulation," Start said. Just before testimony was to get underway, the lone woman charged in the case waived her right to a probable cause hearing. Laurie Swank, 48, Chandler's work supervisor at the former Blue Mill Inn, entered the courtroom wearing a blue jail jumpsuit for the brief proceeding. The Pennsylvania woman said nothing and prosecutors did not disclose any pending plea agreement. Soon after, testimony got under way after James "Bubba" Nelson, 59, of West Virginia; Arthur Paiva, 54, of Muskegon; and Anthony Williams, 55, of Wisconsin; entered the courtroom in jail uniforms. Another suspect, Freddie Parker of West Virginia, is fighting extradition. The first arrest came with Robert Michael Lynch, 67, of Three Oaks, in February 2006, followed by five others in September. Lynch has been convicted of second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing Monday. Prosecutors with the state attorney general and Ottawa County prosecutor's office planned to call multiple witnesses for today's probable causing hearing, which could last into the evening. Chandler's parents, James and Glenna Chandler, sat in a front row of the courtroom while family of the suspects sat in other rows. Although the case has generated high interest, the courtroom was only about half full. During testimony, Start said a screen of Chandler's blood showed no evidence of barbituates or alcohol in her bloodstream. Williams' attorney, Elizabeth Jacobs, asked whether Chandler's body showed any bite marks, but Start said no. He also said there was no evidence of bruising or abrasions from an earlier time period. The case attracted national media attention last fall when police announced the arrests of five suspects who had lived quietly for 27 years, keeping the murder a secret from friends and family. Chandler, 23, was working as night desk clerk at the former Blue Mill Inn when she disappeared Jan. 31, 1979, in what appeared to be an abduction and robbery. Her nude body was found a day later in the Int. 196 median near Covert, dumped in a snowbank. Leads faded for detectives investigating the case, but a cold-case team formed in 2004 eventually found witnesses to divulge bits and pieces of information that helped them solve the murder. Details about Chandler's death slowly emerged -- a tale of jealousy and anger against her by numerous security guards staying at the inn. The Wackenhut Security guards were in town to patrol a strike by workers at two Chemtron Corp. properties and some became intimately involved with Chandler.

December 19, 2006 The Grand Rapids Press
For most of Roger Van Liere's 29 years with the Holland Police Department, the 1979 killing of motel clerk Janet Chandler went unsolved. All along, Van Liere, a detective sergeant assigned to the city's most violent crimes, thought it could be cracked. He jumped at the chance three years ago to join a four-man cold-case team. "We knew, the day we were assigned to it, we were going to solve it," Van Liere said recently. On Monday, the prosecution took a major step with a guilty plea by Robert Lynch, 67, the first of six suspects -- including five former security guards -- to publicly lift the veil of secrecy that police say protected the killers so long. Lynch faces at least 25 years in prison when sentenced next month for second-degree murder. He has agreed to testify against his co-defendants. Chandler, a 23-year-old Hope College student, was working at the former Blue Mill Inn at East 16th Street and U.S. 31 when she befriended Wackenhut Security guards who were staying at the motel and hired to provide protection at the striking Chemtron Corp. Police say security guards lured Chandler to a Chemtron house in Holland Township where she was handcuffed, beaten, raped and strangled during a party. Her body was found the next day in a highway median in Covert. Lynch admitted he was involved in Chandler's abduction and held a belt around her neck. "Well, I was aware of the abduction, and took an active part in the abduction. And then went to the party and did with intent -- actually tried sexually assaulting her and was in the room when she was murdered." Then, he told Ottawa County Circuit Judge Edward Post: "I would like to say that, once this mess is over, I hope that this brings the Chandler family some peace, and that's all I have, sir." Lynch likely will spend the rest of his life in prison.

October 26, 2006 West Virginia Gazette
On Friday or Monday, Fayette County authorities plan to serve a governor’s warrant from Michigan on a West Virginia murder suspect who has fought extradition. By Monday, Freddie Bas Parker, 49, of Powellton should be served with a Michigan warrant and appear before Fayette County Circuit Judge John Hatcher for arraignment, Sheriff Bill Laird said. Parker and James Cleophus “Bubba” Nelson, 59, of Rand are two of six people charged this year in the 1979 death of motel clerk Janet Chandler in Holland, Mich. At hearings last month, Nelson waived extradition, but Michael Del Giudice, a lawyer for Parker, said he intended to fight extradition to Michigan because his client returned to West Virginia before Chandler died. Police believe Nelson and Parker worked for Wackenhut Corp., providing security during a Chemtron Corp. labor strike, and stayed at the motel where Chandler worked. Several men at a party took turns raping and strangling Chandler, police said. But they believe she died at the hands of Robert Michael Lynch, 66. He was arrested in February and provided police with information that led to additional arrests.

October 6, 2006 The Grand Rapids Press
For 25 years, James Nelson was considered an "ear" witness to Janet Chandler's abduction from her night desk job at the Blue Mill Inn. He told detectives he was in his motel room, talking with Chandler on the phone, when he heard her tell someone, "Don't take all the money." In reality, police say, Nelson played an integral role in staging the robbery, lying to investigators and later killing the 23-year-old Hope College student. Nelson, 59, was arraigned Thursday in Holland District Court on three counts -- premeditated murder, kidnapping leading to murder and sexual assault leading to murder. He is one of six suspects charged in the January 1979 slaying that police say was carried out by several Wackenhut Corp. security guards, as well as a female manager at the Blue Mill Inn. Nelson was arrested more than two weeks ago at his Rand, W.Va., home and brought to Holland late Wednesday after waiving extradition.

September 21, 2006 The Citizens Voice
Laurie Ann Swank watched a group of men rape her college roommate in 1979 and knew they planned to kill her — but instead of helping the defenseless woman she encouraged the brutality, according to an arrest warrant released Wednesday, the day the Nescopeck woman was arraigned on murder charges in Michigan. Not only did Swank know the 23-year-old woman, Janet Chandler, would be killed, she plotted to lure the Hope College senior to a party and is accused of “enticing and encouraging the men to do what they did,” Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said in announcing five new arrests in the murder mystery. Swank, 48, has lived in the Luzerne County borough of Nescopeck for the last five years and was arrested late Monday at her Third Street home. She was a nursing assistant at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, for more than 15 years, a hospital spokesman said. Authorities in Michigan say Swank has conceded knowledge about the brutal sex slaying plot and her role, admitting she “verbally assaulted Janet as she was being beaten and raped,” according to the arrest warrant filed in the 27-year-old case. Swank is among six people charged in the Jan. 31. 1979, murder in Holland, Mich. The five others were men working as security guards from the Wackenhut Corp. during a labor strike. All are charged with three counts of murder, including premeditated murder. At the time of the killing, 21-year-old Swank was the night shift supervisor at Blue Mill Inn in Holland, where Chandler worked as a clerk. Four of the male suspects were staying at the hotel, authorities said. Another suspect lived in a nearby guest home, where the beating, rape and strangulation of Chandler allegedly occurred. A plot to kill Chandler was developed out of anger, bitterness and jealously that arose from intimate relationships guards had with females, including Chandler, at the hotel, the arrest warrant states. On Jan. 31, 1979, Chandler was told the guards and Swank were taking her to a surprise party, but then she was handcuffed, kidnapped, and taken to the guest house where the gruesome crime occurred, the warrant says. Chandler’s nude body was found the next day along a snowy highway. Two weeks later, the labor strike ended and the security guards left town. The case remained a mystery for nearly three decades. About 15 to 20 people were at the home the day Chandler was killed. Apparently, they all were able to keep the secret until now, as several witnesses have finally come forward, authorities said. The six females at the home, including Swank, “were all individually threatened after the incident that if they ever talk, the same thing that was done to Janet would happen to them,” the arrest warrant says. The first arrest, of Robert Lynch, 66, Three Oaks, Mich. was made in February. He has admitted to the crime, the warrant says. Holland police Chief John A. Kruithoff wouldn’t say if Lynch pointed out the other suspects, but did say, “He was talking to us.” As for Swank, at her arraignment Wednesday, she was still wearing her nursing scrubs uniform. She shook her head and appeared confused and on the verge of tears as a judge explained the charges, the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press reported Wednesday. “Where will I stay,” she asked. The judge told her jail, the paper reported. She then said she wanted to speak with her family. Swank has local ties, but family members declined comment.

February 10, 2006 The Chronicle
Security guards living in a Holland motel told the friendly desk clerk, 23-year-old Janet Chandler of Muskegon, they were taking her to a surprise party. Then some of them sexually assaulted her and used a belt to choke her before she died in a Holland Township house 27 years ago, a court affidavit shows. The affidavit outlines police testimony given in a closed hearing held by prosecutors to obtain an arrest warrant for 66-year-old Robert Michael Lynch of Three Oaks. The affidavit details the brutality of the Hope College senior's abduction and death Jan. 31, 1979. It also shows she likely did not see the impending danger when two men, whom she apparently knew, took her to a home north of the city. Police on Wednesday announced a break in the cold case with the arrest Lynch. He remains jailed and could face life in prison if convicted. Other suspects are being sought, police said. While investigators would not say whether Lynch confessed, testimony from a state police detective shows he allegedly admitted as much. In January 1979, Lynch was among a large group of temporary security guards hired by Wackenhut Security Corp. to patrol the strikebound Chemtron Corp. in Holland Township. Dozens of guards -- 120 were in Holland at the time -- stayed at the former Blue Mill Inn where Chandler worked as a night desk clerk. Testimony from Detective David Van Lopik showed several people, including Wackenhut security guards, planned a party at a house near Chemtron used by security staff. "Part of the plans were to take Janet Chandler to this party," Van Lopik testified, according to the affidavit. Lynch and another guard told Chandler they were going to have a surprise party for her, then put a blindfold on her and taped her mouth before "escorting" her to a vehicle, testimony showed. Van Lopik's statement did not indicate whether Chandler, who was clerking at 2 a.m. on Jan. 31 when she disappeared, went willingly. When Holland District Judge Susan Jonas asked Van Lopik where he got his information, he named Lynch and other former Wackenhut guards and personnel. Chandler was taken to house on the city's north side and assaulted. The house has since been torn down. After being held for some time, "different individuals placed a belt around Janet Chandler's neck and were pulling on the belt," Van Lopik testified. Detectives Wednesday said Lynch was the one who killed Chandler, though police would not say how many others were involved in the abduction and assaults. "Robert Lynch advised that he also participated and pulled on the belt until Janet Chandler's body went limp," Van Lopik testified in the affidavit. Lynch checked for a pulse, found none, then told other security guards and the strike coordinator that she died, Van Lopik told the judge. "Robert Lynch then, at the direction of others, assisted in cleaning up and took the body in his vehicle to the (I-196) median cross-over in Covert Township, where he removed the body of Janet Chandler from the trunk of the car and placed her underneath a tree," the detective testified. Michigan State Police Lt. John Slenk, head of the "cold case" investigation that began nearly two years ago, said Lynch's name emerged as a prime suspect through tidbits of information obtained from multiple interviews. "Detectives developed enough discrepancies from enough people to suspect him," he said. Police interviewed Lynch several times, as well, and detectives said he has cooperated to a degree. Slenk said he will not be satisfied until police have enough evidence to arrest others who participated in the abduction and assault.

October 21, 2004 Herald Palladium
State police have reopened the investigation into the 1979 abduction and murder of Janet Chandler, 23, whose body was found along Interstate 196 south of South Haven. Now they are trying to locate anyone who might have stayed at the motel in January or February 1979 to gather more potential helpful clues or information. Police are particularly interested in speaking to several Wackenhut Corp. security guards who were working for a local manufacturing company and were staying at the motel at that time.

South Michigan Correctional Facility
Jackson, Michigan
Correctional Medical Services

July 7, 2008 Daily Telegram
A lawsuit over the death of a mentally ill, 21-year-old Adrian man while he was shackled inside a prison cell for four days during a heat wave two years ago has been settled in United States District Court. The parents and three brothers of Timothy Joe Souders are to share in a $3.25 million settlement approved in late June by Judge Bernard Friedman. The lawsuit was completed Wednesday with a dismissal order for Correctional Medical Services Inc., a private contractor providing medical care to inmates at the Southern Michigan Correctional Center in Jackson where Souders died. The state is paying $2.86 million of the settlement total with a private insurance company contributing the remainder, said Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan. The law firm of Geoffrey Fieger of Southfield is to receive more than $1 million as its one-third fee for handling the case. Souders’ mother and father are each to receive structured settlements worth nearly $730,000. His three brothers are to receive structured settlements of $200,000 each.

October 14, 2006 The Grand Rapids Press
The use of four-point restraints as punishment for prison inmates meets the American Medical Association's definition of torture and should be discontinued, a doctor appointed by a federal judge to monitor health care in Michigan's prisons testified Friday. The continued use of restraints is "likely to result in future deaths," Robert Cohen warned U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen. He blamed the Aug. 6 death of Timothy Joe Souders, a 21-year-old mentally ill inmate, on the fact he was shackled atop a steel table in the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson for most of four days during a heat wave. "While naked in bed, he was found to be lying in his own urine and feces," Cohen said, adding that Souders' "condition during a heat wave required constant monitoring ... There should be no policy for maintaining prisoners in punitive restraints. It was that policy that led to his death." After Cohen's testimony, attorney Elizabeth Alexander, representing inmates in the class action lawsuit, asked Enslen to issue an order temporarily barring the state Corrections Department from using restraints to punish prisoners. Enslen appeared inclined to issue the order, but Assistant Attorney General Peter Govorchin stepped outside the courtroom to call state Corrections Director Patricia Caruso about offering a voluntary moratorium on the use of restraints. Afterward, the attorneys met with Enslen behind closed doors, and later would not say whether an agreement had been reached to stop restraining prisoners as punishment. Cohen's testimony came at the end of a three-day hearing in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the state to improve the care of medically and mentally ill prisoners. The allegations include: The hospital and other medical units in the Jackson prison complex are understaffed by doctors and nurses. Written requests by inmates for medical help often are delayed for several days or ignored. Referrals to outside medical specialists are routinely delayed for weeks and even months while sick inmates get sicker and, in some case, die. Prescriptions for serious illnesses often go unfilled for several days. Last May and June, critical medications for several inmates were not provided while the Jackson prison complex was in transition from its own staff of pharmacists to a private firm called Pharmacorp. One inmate testified his medication for glaucoma and migraine headaches was withheld as punishment because he talked with attorneys in the case. Only while he was in court and on the stand Wednesday did a guard hand him his medication. Some of the responsibility rests with Correctional Medical Services, the for-profit corporation that provides care for prisoners under a contract with the state, testified Jerry Walden, an Ann Arbor physician called as an expert witness for the inmates. "There seems to be an indifference about care," Walden said, "and I'm concerned about that."