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This story has been updated.

| 2 min read | by Lonnie Huhman, lhuhman@thesuntimesnews.com |

The Special Alternative Incarceration program at the Cassidy Lake Facility is going through a transition that will see it closed, but the program go on, just at another location.

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced in its January newsletter that the, “Special Alternative Incarceration program in Chelsea will be consolidated and relocated to its parent facility, Cooper Street Correctional Facility in Jackson.”

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The Cassidy Lake facility is located in Lyndon Township at 18901 Waterloo Road.

SAI operations are expected to be fully transitioned to Cooper Street by March 7, the MDOC newsletter said.

The Sun Times News reached out to MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz through email for comment.

“That’s correct,” Gautz said of the Chelsea facility closing. “There won’t be anyone there. But I want to be clear the physical location is closing, but the program is not. We are just moving it to Jackson. The program will remain and we still encourage judges around the state to utilize this program as they have for many years.”

The MDOC newsletter said, “SAI will have its own unit at Cooper Street, which already shares an administration with SAI. This relocation and consolidation will allow the department to continue operating the alternative sanction program, while saving taxpayer resources and creating greater efficiencies in operations.”

Under the administrative control of the Cooper Street Correctional Facility, the MDOC said the, “Special Alternative Incarceration program (SAI) began in 1988 as an alternative to prison for male probationers convicted of certain crimes and selected by courts. In 1992 the program was expanded to include both male and female prisoners and probationers.  In 2014, the female population was moved to Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. State law precludes participation if convicted of a number of primarily assaultive crimes.” ​

MDOC describes the program as a, “regimented 90-day intensive program that focuses on changing negative behavior into socially acceptable behavior. The military discipline portion of the program is designed to break down streetwise attitudes, so staff can teach positive values and attitudes.”

The newsletter said, “Moving this program to the parent facility will also allow us to reduce the number of employee vacancies at other facilities, including Cooper Street. About $10 million in savings is expected for the 2021 fiscal year through this move.”

It further said, “The consolidation and relocation will not impact the programming offered at SAI, as the female version already operates successfully as part of the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility.”

“The department is fully committed to supporting staff in every way through this transition,” the MDOC newsletter said. “Human Resources will be working to determine transfers, bumps, and potential initial layoffs, however, the MDOC has held open positions at surrounding facilities to help reduce the impact of this relocation and consolidation on staff. The MDOC’s Wellness Unit will also be available to assist any employees affected by this relocation and consolidation.”

As for the future of the Chelsea facility, Gautz said the MDOC hasn’t been focused on future use at this time.

“We need to get past March 7, which is when the site closes,” Gautz said. “Between now and then our focus is on our employees and helping them transition to other facilities and minimize the impact on our staff.”

He said, “the nice thing is that we have so many vacancies at prisons in the area that most, if not all, will be able to continue with us. But we have to focus on that and get through that process.”

“After that, we will turn to the site itself and begin to look at options for it,” Gautz said.

The newsletter ended by directing those with questions about the relocation and consolidation to send an email to AskMDOC@ michigan.gov.

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