Judge speaks on concept of a regional jail

To the editor:

am writing in response to Representative Markkonen’s recent statements in which he advocates turning Camp Kitwen into a six county regional jail/mental health facility. This is absolutely unfeasible for the fallowing reasons.

1. The other five counties which he proposes including in the regional jail have absolutely no interest and nothing to gain from forming a regional jail. The distances involved in transporting prisoners are prohibitive. The majority of accused are represented by court appointed attorneys, who obviously must meet with their clients. The cost of travel to a regional jail wool prohibitive. Contrary to popular belief, not all court proceedings can be handled by video conference. Individuals charged with offenses have an absolute right to appear in court.

2. A jail is not a mental health facility, and a mental health facility is not a jail. I am baffled why anyone would think it is a good idea to bombing the two. Leaving the wisdom of this aside, it is my opinion that Michigan law would not allow for this, as the enabling statutes do not provide for such a thing.

3. The Department of Corrections extensively studied the possibility of a regional jail in I think 2014. A 1000 plus page report was issued which is available online. The conclusion was that a regional jail was unfeasible, given the geographic distances involved, as well as numerous other reasons.

4. It is highly questionable whether a regional jail is permitted under Michigan law. There is not statue which I am aware of which allows for such a thing. The 2014 Department of corrections report deals with legal issues, which are too detailed to discuss in the limited space allowed here. It is possible that certain statures may allow for it, but there is no definite answer.

5. Mr. Markkonen has also made statements that the Eastern Upper Peninsula has regional jails. There are no regional jails in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. None. Zero. zilch. Luce County contracts their prisoners to other counties as they don’t have a jail, but that is not the same thing as a regional jail. To my knowledge there are no regional jails in Michigan.

Obviously we need a new jail facility. We need realistic solutions. Mr. Markkonen’s proposal is reckless and irresponsible.