Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prisons and Austerity in Michigan

Since deciding I will be moving there next fall, I've taken a deep interest in the politics of Detroit. As recent census data reflects, the Motor City is in a world of hurt following a wide range of economic calamities. In response to this and other statewide financial issues, newly elected Governor Rick Snyder recently signed legislation authorizing the appointment of "emergency managers" to seize control of municipal affairs. These managers would hold the ability to dissolve union contracts, remove elected officials, and even dismantle local governments and school districts.

A recent article from the Michigan Messenger suggests this controversial bill may also increase the number of private prisons in the Great Lakes State. This is not surprising, as prison privatization has long functioned as an avenue for reducing cash-strapped governments spending on law enforcement. However, as the Sentencing Project convincingly argues, the perils of prison privatization are numerous.