Detroit Advocates Call for $12.3 Million from Prison Closure Go To Detroit Communities
On September 22nd, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) announced they would be closing the Detroit Reentry Center, a facility that has housed hundreds of people on parole violations since 2012.
While we applaud the closing of any prison, we believe the $12.3 million in “savings” from MDOC’s $2 billion budget for this fiscal year should be re-appropriated to go towards community determined priorities in Detroit during this unprecedented time. It is unclear at this time whether or not MDOC has already earmarked these funds for other uses, but it is our belief that any windfalls from MDOC’s budget should not go towards further incarceration, but should be reinvested into what communities need most, and what keeps communities safe. Jails and prisons do not make communities safer — jobs, housing, healthcare, education, and other resources do.
We want to see a transition, in the words of MI Liberation’s Nicholas Buckingham, “from shutdown to tear down.” MDOC should close this prison once and for all without the possibility of later reopening, as they’ve done with previous closures. We want to be sure the building is never used to incarcerate people again under any circumstances. We welcome either a complete teardown or repurposing of the facility as we’ve seen with the Center for Wellness, Equity and Freedom in Atlanta and the youth-led effort to turn a prison into a farm by Growing Change in North Carolina. Using the $12.3 million and re-purposing this facility to benefit Detroit communities would be more than appropriate given that 35% of those returning home from MI prisons return to Wayne County.
$12.3 million represents only 0.6% of MDOC’s budget for this fiscal year. Members and clients of our organizations who have experienced what was formerly the Ryan Correctional Facility and is currently known as the Detroit Reentry Center are relieved to see the facility being shut down. Since 1991, nothing about this facility has supported the people housed within its walls to be able to thrive. In a city where so many residents face obstacles due to being formerly incarcerated, it is only right that these funds go towards remedying harm and benefiting the community where this facility has been housed for nearly 30 years.