MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - Pennsylvania has too many prisoners, and Michigan has too many prisons.
To relieve their overcrowding problem, Pennsylvania is sending 1,000 inmates to Michigan to fill empty cells in the Muskegon Correctional Facility.
"It's really not something we want to do," says PA Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton. "It's a last resort, something we have to do to lower our population to make it more manageable."
Pennsylvania's decision to export inmates comes just as Michigan was planning to close the prison in Muskegon.
Now the facility will stay open for at least several years.
Hundreds of jobs will be saved.
"We have approximately 150 officers alone being looked at for layoffs or possibly having to move elsewhere," says Michigan Corrections Employees Union vice president Andrew Potter. "Support staff on top of that and you are looking at roughly 300 employees."
Pennsylvania will pay Michigan over $22 million to take the inmates.
"$62 per day-per inmate," says McNaughton.
The Pennsylvania prisoners coming to Muskegon are medium to low security inmates.
Pennsylvania has 51,000 convicts crammed into space for 44,000.
Some are volunteering for transfer to Muskegon.
"I've got a handful of letters from inmates who say they definitely want to go," says McNaughton.
Pennsylvania considered bids from six states for their inmates.
"Pennsylvania is coming here because they are comfortable," says Potter. "I think it's testimony to the Michigan Department of Corrections, and the men and women who work for them. Their level of dedication and professionalism."