UPDATE: Lake County Prison Agrees to House Vermont Inmates
A new contract for a Northern Michigan prison is set to bring hundreds of prisoners back.
It’s a deal that could help the poorest county in the state.
The GEO North Lake Correctional Facility has been closed periodically for years.
With a new contract, the prison could house more prisoners and bring more jobs.
The Department of Corrections in Vermont signed a 30-million dollar contract to send inmates to the GEO Prison near Baldwin.
More than 300 prisoners would be moved into this facility.
It’s housed juvenile inmates before.
But it’s been closed since 2009.
State lawmakers are pushing legislation to allow higher security inmates.
Now this deal signed with Vermont could get the doors open again.
9&10’s Cody Boyer continues our coverage with more details from Vermont and Baldwin.
The GEO Prison has opened and shut its doors several times over the course of several years.
Every time it shuts, people living nearby say it hurts their businesses.
With this new deal, they hope things will start getting better soon.
“I think it would be absolutely, amazingly important because it will help the economy immensely,” says Lee Ann Russell, president of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce.
A new contract that could change a small community by bringing prisoners to the GEO Prison…
Baldwin business owners like Lee Ann Russell are hopeful this will help.
“You get a carrot and you dangle it in front of your face and all of a sudden it falls away and then you get another carrot and it dangles and there is nothing,” Russell says. “This, I hope, is going to be the catch. The catch that is going to be the opening and the continuance of this business.”
According to the contract, the Vermont Department of Corrections can move almost 320 prisoners from two other prisons to the GEO Prison in Baldwin for two years.
Mike Touchette, Director of Facilities at the Vermont Department of Corrections says the GEO facility fits their needs.
“The facility, itself, brick and mortar, is new construction,” Touchette says. “It is built in a modern way to insure that the safety and security of the operations, inmates and staff can be done so without any interferences from the layout of the prison, itself, like, in our state, we have aging facilities.”
Baldwin business owners like Steve Troupe say the prisoner transfer could help the community but won’t plan for it in case it falls through again.
“It’s going to be great if it comes to fruition,” Troupe says. “I think there is a less of a worry that it will go down and more of a just kind of wait and see what happens kind of mentality. It’s not something I’m going to plan on.”
The Vermont Department of Corrections director says prisoners will start transferring later this year.
He says he is confident the deal will carry forward into the future.
GEO North Lake Correctional Facility in Lake County has now agreed to house inmates from Vermont.
Almost 320 inmates will soon move to the prison just north of Baldwin.
The Vermont Department of Corrections says right now, those inmates are being housed in Arizona and Kentucky.
But once that contract expires on June 30, they will be moved to the Lake County prison.
The two year contract between GEO Group and the Vermont Department of Corrections is worth more than $30 million.
State lawmakers are working on a bill that would allow prisoners with any security level to be housed at the prison.
We’ll continue to update you on the latest developments on the Lake County prison throughout the day on air and online.