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Detroit Re-entry Center set to close in January

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Detroit Re-entry Center will close in January as the number of state prisoners and offenders continues to decline, the Michigan Department of Corrections said Tuesday.

The jail, formerly known as the Ryan Correctional Facility, is located on the east side of Detroit sits on 39 acres off Ryan Road. It employs more than 200 workers. 

The facility is unique in Michigan because it houses prisoners, probationers and parolees above 18 years old who have been reincarcerated for alleged violations of parole conditions.

jail

The Detroit center currently holds 70 offenders, a huge drop from the average of 500 offenders the site has held annually during the past three years, Department of Corrections officials said. The facility employs 220 people.

The department said the declining offender population, improvements to statewide programs and reentry services led to the decision to close the facility next year.

“The decision to close a facility is always hard, and I realize this will be a difficult time for the staff at DRC,” Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington said in a statement. “We understand and value the hard work and dedication the staff have shown, and it is our hope to find places for them within the department to continue that effort.”

The state’s prison population is now under 35,000 for the first time in 30 years, Washington said.

Michigan’s prison population peaked in March 2007 when it stood at 51,554. Michigan’s rate of convicted criminals re-offending has dropped from nearly 45% to 26.7% over the last 20 years.

When the Ryan Correctional Facility was closed in 2012, the site was converted to become DRC. The initial purpose of the site was to house a small number of prisoners needing dialysis treatment, housing parolees who were transferred there directly from prison to complete additional Corrections Department programming before entering the community, and housing certain parole violators for additional programming or sanctions.

As the Re-entry Center's population declined, the Department of Corrections stopped sending prisoners directly to Detroit for programming and offered it around the state. The department's centralized efforts allowed more prisoners to complete programming before their earliest release date, the department said.

It also adopted evidence-based responses to non-violent parole violations, reducing the number of offenders serving sanctions at the site, officials said.

The dialysis operation and the prisoners needing the treatment will be moved more than 40 miles to the Woodland Center Correctional Facility in Whitmore Lake.

The DRC closure will result in a partial year savings of $12.3 million in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.  The Corrections Department has closed and consolidated 28 facilities and camps since 2005, resulting in $400 million in savings. 

The department will begin working immediately with the employees, their union representatives to determine bumping and transfer options for impacted employees, state officials said. 

"The department will attempt to absorb as many staff as possible into the vacancies the MDOC currently has throughout the system," officials said in a press release.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_