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Marenisco Township's lawsuit to stop prison closure dismissed

 Courtesy: Michigan Dept. of Corrections
Courtesy: Michigan Dept. of Corrections (WLUC)
Published: Nov. 28, 2018 at 12:42 PM EST
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A Court of Claims judge has dismissed the lawsuit brought by Marenisco Township to block the closure of the Ojibway Correctional Facility, the Michigan Department of Corrections said Wednesday.

The prison, with 203 employees, is set to close Saturday. The closure was announced in August.

Following the decision, MDOC Director Heidi Washington issued the following statement:

"We are pleased to see resolution to this question by the court, so the community and our employees have certainty and can plan accordingly as final preparations are made to close the facility on Dec. 1. We will continue to work with our employees as they make their transition to other facilities, while continuing to operate the Ojibway Correctional Facility safely and securely until the closure process is complete."

The lawsuit filed in September claimed that Marenisco Township was not given enough time or the opportunity to be heard before the decision was made to close the prison. It also claimed that the Department of Corrections did not consider the economic impact on the community after closing the prison.

MDOC argued that they did not violate any rights to due process because it is not mandated that they contact Marenisco Township prior to closing the prison. They also claimed that they did look into the economic impact and that there are no required methods involving contacting local officials.

Marenisco Township Supervisor, Richard Bouvette, said in a statement that they are "disappointed and do not agree with the judge's decision. We are also disappointed with how long it took the judge to make his decision and feel that he could have made it a lot sooner."

In the Judge's decision, it states that "At most, the Department of Corrections is required to consider economic impacts during the 'planning' phase of closing a facility. It does not require that the DOC reach any particular outcome with respect to a facilityl closure....Plantiffs have failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted."

The Judge's full decision can be read in the related documents section.

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