Did budget cuts allow prisoner to escape? Gov. Snyder responds

11:38 PM, Feb 3, 2014   |    comments
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Video: Gov. Snyder responds to prison security questions

Michael Elliot. (Courtesy LaPorte County Sheriff's Dept. Feb. 3, 2014)

IONIA, Mich. (WZZM) -- Union officials say cuts to the Michigan Department of Corrections budget caused security breaches which may have allowed a convicted killer to escape from the Ionia Correctional Facility.

Michael Elliot, 40, escaped Sunday night through a hole in the outer fencing. Correction officers say there were no officers in any of the gun towers at the facility. Union officials say that's because of budget cuts and those cutbacks could have played a role in Elliot's escape.

The WZZM 13 Watchdog team spoke with Governor Snyder about those concerns. He was in Grand Rapids Monday afternoon on a campaign stop for his re-election.

Under Snyder's leadership, there have been cutbacks and some of the state's prison operations have been privatized. WZZM 13's Lee Van Ameyde asked the governor to respond to the concerns of the corrections officers union.

"The investigation needs to take place. It will be very extensive and it will be public; that information will come out in due course," said Gov. Snyder.

"One of the things they say, not only were there layoffs or people taken out of there, but the privatizing of the kitchen help was one of the security weak points there, have you talked about that?" Lee Van Ameyde asked the governor.

"Again, there will be an investigation. It appears no connection to the kitchen at all in this circumstance," Snyder said.

The governor would not say anything further about the escape or the concerns raised by corrections officers.

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