Mich. Program Gets Prisoners Out of Costly Isolation Cells

Some states are putting prisoners in isolation at increasing rates. A Mich. penitentiary program that has caught the attention of other states is looking to do the opposite.
by | January 2, 2012 AT 7:00 PM

Prison officials may engage in the controversial practice of isolating prisoners in their own cells if they are a safety risk, but it comes at a price. It costs nearly twice as much to put a prisoner in isolation than it does to give them a cellmate and isolation makes it harder for inmates to adjust to life after prison. Alger Correctional Facility in Munising, Mich., has started a program that has reduced the number of days inmates spend in isolation by up to 10 percent and cut the number of incidents in isolation in half, reports Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Gerritt. The six-step pilot program gives inmates assignments, such as cleaning or tutoring, and rewards them with social privileges, such as library services and phone calls, upon completion. The program typically takes two to 12 months, at which point inmates get to return to the general prison population. According to Gerritt (who writes that Gov. Rick Synder should monitor the program), officials from California, Colorado, Maine, New York and Ohio have already asked about the program.