Mich. panel votes to cut prison spending

LANSING, MI – A legislative conference committee has voted to cut prison spending in the Michigan budget year scheduled to start in four days.

The 5% cut would be met in part by completing a previously announced plan to close prisons and prison camps. Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration has been paroling more inmates to save money.

The Legislature could start passing the Corrections Department budget when it returns to work Tuesday. Lawmakers have until the end of Wednesday to erase a $2.8 billion deficit.

It costs about $32,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate. Members of the conference committee agreed Sunday to reduce per-prisoner costs by $841 by trying to save on things like inmates' prescription drugs and the cost of moving prisoners from facility to facility.