07 August 2010

Feds to Tour Closed Michigan Prison Again

Chicago Tribune

STANDISH, Mich. — Michigan officials said Monday there are promising developments in their efforts to find use for a closed state prison as a federal facility.

Federal prison officials will take another tour of the prison in Standish the week of Aug. 16, according to a joint statement from U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak and state officials. The visit will include meetings with local officials.

The state prison about 145 miles north of Detroit closed last year because of state budget cuts. It had a capacity of about 600 inmates as a state prison. It had been considered as a place to move 229 suspected al-Qaida, Taliban and foreign fighters jailed at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. But state officials say that's no longer under consideration. Federal officials want to move the detainees to an Illinois facility.

The Michigan prison might be an option to alleviate overcrowding in the federal prison system, however.

Officials from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons have toured the Standish facility previously. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said Monday that no timeframe has been established for making a decision about it.

"We are in the exploratory phase right now," she said.

Stupak, a Democrat from Menominee, said the upcoming visit is a "promising development."

"While this is not yet a done deal, it is a huge step in the right direction toward reopening this prison, and providing a critical economic boost to the Standish community and the entire state," Stupak said in a statement.

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