VULCAN, Mich. (WLUC) - Former Representative and current U.P. senate candidate Ed McBroom released information Monday about his demand of answers from the Michigan Department of Corrections in regard to the closure of the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Marinesco.
Last week the MDOC stunned the small community in rural Gogebic County with the announcement of the closure of the prison. The 2019 fiscal year budget required a prison to close but many felt Ojibway had too many positives to be the one chosen. It is also a critical source of employment in an area of long economic hardship, which led to it taking on the prison decades ago when few other communities were willing.
McBroom wants the department to specifically answer questions regarding what, if any, analysis was done by MDOC on the closure's impact to the local community.
"The impacts must be researched beyond just the 200 plus employees," McBroom said. "This will affect our schools, local services, construction, and even other employers who lose key personal when the corrections officers move their families, which is sadly about their only option considering jobs presently available in this region.”
He also believes the MDOC is required to do this by state law.
"The budget passed has language in it from my time in the House, requiring the department to do a comprehensive analysis of these impacts and take them into consideration when making a closure. Was this done? When was it done? And, what did that analysis reveal, as it’s hard to imagine if it were done, how this closing can be justified as the economic consequences are in a word, ‘devastating’ and simply are far more significant to this region than any other area would suffer in the state through such a closure. We need to know, and I am filing a request that all of that analysis be shared with us immediately." McBroom is referencing Sec. 944 of the budget which says, in part, "...the department shall fully consider the potential economic impact of the prison closure on the community...."
While a representative in the Michigan House, McBroom worked with John Kivela and Tom Casperson on legislation to force the State to consider the net impact of privatization of State services on local economies.
"I see this the same way," he said. "When a decision saves tax payer dollars from one bucket but costs more out of another it is not good policy. A responsible state weighs out all of the impact, and the Department should have done so here and considered the profound adverse economic impact to the Western U.P.”