More than a thousand Pennsylvania prisoners who had been housed in Michigan have returned to the commonwealth.
Pennsylvania sent the 1,111 inmates to Michigan, and another thousand to Virginia, because of overcrowding in its corrections system. The prisoners have returned because Pennsylvania’s prisoner population has leveled over the past year, after a spike caused by Governor Rendell’s temporary parole moratorium.
Pennsylvania had been paying Michigan $62 a day for every exported prisoner, which added up to about $480,000 a week. Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton says it took about a month to bring them back. “We started the process the later part of April, and we did several trips over each week, with the last trip this past week,” she said. “So now all of the inmates who were housed in Michigan are now back in Pennsylvania state prisons.”
Cost-savings was a major factor, but McNaughton said the return will also help the prisoners’ rehabilitation. “To make sure that they’re home, so that family members can visit with them on a regular basis, and reestablish their support mechanisms, and help them reenter society,” she explained.
Earlier this year, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said his department would also bring the Virginia prisoners back to Pennsylvania this year. He said the commonwealth would save about $20 million annually, by eliminating daily payments to the two states.
But McNaughton says the inmates will remain in Virginia for now, with the goal of returning them as soon as it’s feasible.