LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Tuesday, after it was announced the Pugsley Correctional Facility, located in Kingsley, is to be closed.
“I am very disappointed with the decision to close the Pugsley Correctional Facility. Unilaterally closing a prison to only save a few bucks in spite of all the benefits the facility provides to our community seems extremely shortsighted and does nothing to achieve our shared goal of reforming Michigan’s criminal justice system.
“Make no mistake: This decision will have a deep, residual impact. Pugsley employs hundreds of area residents who pay taxes here, have homes here, send their kids to school here, go shopping here, and more. There is no doubt that closing such a major employer in our community will hurt the Grand Traverse County economy, but it is also a move that will ripple throughout the surrounding communities in a part of our state that already faces a labor shortage.
“This is more than about a loss of jobs, as bad as that is. For example, several local area food banks will likely lose out on a beneficial program the prison helps run to provide 20,000 pounds of produce for the food banks each year. Importantly, also, will be the impact on the prison population itself.
“One of the key areas that we focus on when talking about criminal justice reform is that of rehabilitation. Preparing inmates for a return to life outside is vitally important, and Pugsley has done a great job in that effort as a Prisoner Reentry In-Reach Facility. Beyond traditional educational offerings, like Adult Basic Education, General Education Development, Business Education Technology and Building Trades, Pugsley also serves numerous northern Michigan counties with evidenced-based cognitive thinking courses. These courses help inmates overcome issues of violence, alcohol and substance abuse, mental health, parental support, and more. All of these great services are now in question.
“Camp Pugsley, which later became the Pugsley Correctional Facility we know today, has been an important part of northern Michigan for more than six decades. It is a place that offers the types of services we seek when looking to improve our state’s correctional system. Unfortunately, the governor’s administration doesn’t see it that way.”