Proos: Congratulations to Corrections Director Heidi Washington on her first year of service

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LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos recently joined Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Heidi Washington on a tour of a program designed to help keep prisoners from returning to prison after they are released.

“To help both protect public safety and reduce costs, we must refocus our criminal justice system on rehabilitation and reform of prisoners,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for the Judiciary and Corrections budgets. “Director Washington is celebrating her first full year as the head of Michigan’s corrections department, and she is an innovative leader who has helped reduce our prison population and is putting together programs that help give a positive direction for prisoners as they prepare to return to society.

“The vast majority of our prisoners will eventually return to their communities, making it critical that we give them the best chance to succeed and become productive citizens — which is exactly the goal of the Vocational Village program.”

The Vocational Village program at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia offers instruction in carpentry, plumbing, electrical and welding for prisoners who are nearing their release date.

Proos said that the state will be providing funding for a second Vocational Village site in the next budget.

“The Senate has passed a comprehensive criminal justice reform package that focuses on reducing recidivism and helps offenders to return to a normal life,” Proos said. “This program is just one type of restorative justice effort that can help us reduce the cost of the system while also helping break the cycle of crime.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

The above photographs are available by clicking on the images or by visiting Proos’ photowire at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Photowire.

Left photo caption: Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, joined Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Heidi Washington (center right) and Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility Warden DeWayne Burton (right) on a tour of a classroom at the Ionia prison. The facility houses the Vocational Village program, designed to help keep prisoners from returning to prison after they are released.

Right photo caption: Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, and Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Heidi Washington talk with Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility Warden DeWayne Burton about the Vocational Village program at the Ionia prison. The program is designed to help keep prisoners from returning to prison after they are released.