Carson City Council listen to concerns raised by changes to prison regulations

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 10:46 am on Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Members of Carson City Council, from left, Mayor Bruce Tasker, Carl Brune, Dan Cusack and Tom McCrackin, listen to a presentation about safety issues regarding the Carson City Regional Correctional Facility at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. — Daily News/Cory Smith

CARSON CITY — New regulations created by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) are creating concerns among residents of the Carson City community.

Speaking on behalf of the Carson City corrections officers at Tuesday night’s Carson City Council meeting, former corrections officer and Belding resident Denny Craycraft pleaded with council members to consider drafting a resolution to send to the state against recent budget decisions made by the Michigan Department of Corrections.

According to Craycraft, an agreement was made between the MDOC and Carson City guaranteeing the safety of members of the community when the Carson City Regional Correctional Facility, which sits three-quarters of a mile from the city limits, was built. Craycraft believes the department is now in violation of that original agreement.

“The MDOC is definitely in violation of that original contract,” Craycraft said. “I hope I’m wrong, I hope nothing (bad) ever happens in this community, but I can almost assure you it’s not a matter of if, it’s when. It’s going to happen with what is being done with the (correctional facility) safety cuts in this community right now — and not just this community, but the whole state.”

Former corrections officer and Belding resident Denny Craycraft explains at Tuesday night's Carson City Council meeting recent changes at the Carson City Regional Correctional Facility and their effect on workers and members of the community. — Daily News/Cory Smith

The MDOC recently made cuts to eliminate scheduled perimeter security vehicle patrols and Resident Unit Officers at correctional facilities throughout Michigan. The change went into effect on April 1.
Michigan Corrections Organization Vice President Andy Potter said there are two main issues that should concern Carson City Council members.

“No. 1, they are taking away perimeter security, which isn’t safe for anyone — the employees inside or the community,” Potter said. “Second, there’s possible privatization in the future. If that passes through the state House, then it isn’t going to be this institution that goes private, it’s going to be somewhere else. But that means another institution shuts down. Every time a private facility opens up, where they pay a lot less with a lot less security, they’ll close down one of our facilities, which means our community is going to suffer.”

Craycraft and Potter suggested members of city council draft a resolution that could be sent to the state legislature showing their disapproval of lack of perimeter security and possible privatization of correctional facilities.

“We’d like to ask our city leaders to also contact our state legislators,” Craycraft said. “You are the leaders of the community and the people of this community expect you to keep them safe. You are already doing a great job, but this could be another step forward in keeping the community safe.”

Mayor Pro Tem Neil Kapustka said a resolution is something he’d like the city county to look into.

“I’d like to see some research done on this resolution and have it on the agenda next month, we need something written up,” he said.

Mayor Bruce Tasker said the possible drafting of a resolution will be sent to committee for future discussion.

“We’re concerned about your safety and also our community’s safety,” said Tasker to audience members. “I don’t know where it goes from here, but I know everyone here is concerned about this issue. We’re only three-quarters of a mile away from that facility, so we are very concerned.”

Councilman Carl Brune said he wasn’t sure if the board, as a governing body, could do anything as a whole that would change any outcome, but encouraged everyone to reach out, including members of the board.

“While, individually, I think we can help, but as a governing body, can we do anything? I’m not sure,” he said. “That facility is not in the city limits. I think people need to be contacting (state Sen.) Judy Emmons and (state Rep.) Rick Outman, and I’m sure members of this board will do that.”

Carson City resident Sharon Proctor said she is very worried about the future and safety of Carson City and the surrounding area.

“I’m very concerned about it only because we’re so close to the prison,” she said. “How many people are going to have to be killed before something is done about this? It’s getting to the point where it’s not going to be safe anyplace, at any of these facilities.”

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