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240 Marquette Branch Prison inmates transferred as coronavirus outbreak continues

The minimum security inmates were moved to Newberry, where they’ll be housed separately for now.
A sign outside Marquette Branch Prison
A sign outside Marquette Branch Prison(WLUC/MGN Image)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 12:31 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - About one-quarter of the inmates at Marquette Branch Prison have been transferred to Newberry Correctional Facility to ease the burden on prison staff plagued by coronavirus-related absences.

A Michigan Department of Corrections spokesperson says 240 minimum security inmates were moved to Newberry on Thursday. There are no known positive coronavirus cases among this group of inmates. They’ll be housed separately from other inmates at Newberry for now.

The coronavirus outbreak at Marquette Branch Prison is on the maximum security side. Thursday’s inmate move means fewer correctional officers are needed to cover shifts in Marquette. About a third of the prison staff can’t work right now because they’ve tested positive or have to quarantine, MDOC says.

To make room for the inmates at Newberry, 140 inmates who were deemed recovered from the coronavirus were transferred to Central Michigan Correctional Facility. Their isolation units were cleaned before the Marquette inmates arrived, MDOC says. The Marquette inmates, who were in double-bunk cells, are now going to be in open bay settings of six to eight inmates.

As of late Friday afternoon, the latest MDOC data showed 204 of the Marquette prison’s 972 inmates had tested positive for coronavirus. The number of staff positive cases - 96 at last report - is the highest of any Michigan prison facility.

On Thursday, a mother and a friend of two separate inmates sounded the alarm about conditions they’ve heard about from inside the prison.

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