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Private prison to house non-US citizens
BALDWIN — A private prison company in northern Michigan said it can begin to house non-U.S. citizens convicted of federal crimes.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons in May granted GEO Group Inc. a 10-year contract to house up to 1,800 adult inmates at its North Lake Correction Facility in Baldwin village, which is 240 miles (386 kilometers) northwest of Detroit. The prison is different than immigration detention centers that hold people accused of entering the country illegally. Instead they hold people convicted of crimes, including illegal entry.
Inmates in Baldwin would typically have sentences of 90 months or less to serve for nonviolent drug offenses or re-entry to the country after deportation. They all face deportation after completing their sentences.
The prison hired 234 people, many of whom are from the surrounding area. They're expected to earn between $35,000 and $76,000.
"A filled bed is a filled bed; it's profit for GEO and they're hiring people," said Baldwin village president Jim Truxton, a long-time supporter of the project. "How is it any different than GM building a new plant in the Detroit area?"
The Baldwin facility will be one of nearly a dozen private facilities contracted to house federal non-citizen offenders for the Bureau of Prisons. Housing low-security federal inmates in private prisons is less costly.
As of April 2017, the cost to house inmates at private sites averaged $68.19 a day, while housing an inmate in a low-security federal facility averaged $87.41 a day, the Detroit News reported.
Florida-based GEO Group expects the contract in Baldwin will to generate roughly $37 million a year in incremental annualized revenues. Truxton said Lake County will also reap some financial benefits.
"What a privately owned facility like North Lake Correctional Facility means to the poorest county in the state is $1.5 million in ad valorem taxes plus personal property taxes plus jobs," Truxton said.
Of the 177,300 federal inmates currently housed by the federal bureau, 33,412 are non-U.S. citizens and nearly 16,000 of those non-U.S. citizens are housed in private prisons, according to federal data.
Inmates in Baldwin will be offered courses that include basic adult education, introduction to computers, building trades, life skills, religious services and suicide prevention, according to GEO Group.
The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed private federal prisons over safety concerns in other states. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the North Lake Correction Facility.