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Senate Subcommittee’s Decision To Close 2 Prisons Could Impact Lake County Economy

A Senate budget subcommittee has voted to close two Michigan prisons, but lawmakers are not saying which prisons will be impacted.

The plan could save the state almost $47 million a year, but the proposed cuts would have a big impact in Northern Michigan.

Some inmates from the prisons that close would be sent to the privately-owned North Lake Correctional Facility in Lake County.

GEO Group owns the facility that houses inmates from Vermont.

Since last June, the GEO prison has housed inmates from Vermont, opening its doors again after years of being closed.

With Thursday’s proposal, more inmates, and potentially more workers from two former state prisons, will join them.

The Michigan Senate says they will lease the North Lake Correctional Facility in Lake County in order to help save nearly a million dollars annually.

It’s not the first time.

The Michigan Department of Corrections says the Senate has closed down prison units already this year.

By closing two entire prisons out of around 30 in the state, they say it would ease the strain on the state budget.

The nearby Baldwin community hopes this new influx of state workers and inmates will help out a struggling local economy.

"I would hope that it would mean that it’s going to bring a little commerce to the community, a little more people coming in and visit the town and purchase property, make purchases in the store locally, help our economy. It is something that’s needed," says Leeann Russell, Lake County Chamber of Commerce president.

The Michigan Senate and state lawmakers are pushing to finish the state budget by early June.

There is no word yet on which two prisons the state plans on closing.

We’ve also reached out to the GEO Group, the Department of Corrections and the local state representative for more details.

We’ll have the latest on this proposal throughout the day on air and online. 

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