Lake County Reacts to Possible Prison Closure

This Northern Michigan prison could soon be empty and closed again.

Today the Vermont Department of Corrections told us the GEO Group that operates the North Lake Correctional Facility will not extend a contract to house prisoners from Vermont.

That contract expires in June.

 About 250 inmates from Vermont are at the prison north of Baldwin in Lake County.

The prison was closed in 2005 due to state budget cuts.

It reopened briefly in 2011, then closed again.

 It was closed until June of 2015 when inmates arrived from Vermont.              

It’s another chapter in the long saga of the GEO Correctional facility opening and closing that has plagued Lake County. Word that GEO would not extend a contract to house prisoners there from Vermont spread quickly.

“We’ll just hang on and we’ll just keep doing what we do and we’ll just continue to survive somehow. We had pretty high hopes,” said Baldwin Village President Jim Truxton.

Baldwin Village President Jim Truxton says because of the move by GEO, Baldwin could miss out on a major infrastructure upgrade

“We need to do some things at our waste water treatment plant to increase the efficiency of the operation. One of the deals was if GEO ramped up over 500 prisoners, they were going to write a big check for those upgrades and that was just part of it, and they’re not going to do that now. So the village more or less is going to have to go at it alone,” said Truxton.  

LeeAnn Russell of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce says the county will have to keep exploring ways to attract new businesses while dealing with an uncertain future for the prison, yet again.

“People don’t know what to do, they’ve made an investment and that investment appears to be taken away from them. It’s like getting shot in the back. We’ve got a good back bone, we really do, so hopefully things will go good,” said Russell.  

We did reach out to GEO to ask what would happen to the employees or if they have other plans for the facility.

They will not respond.