Body cameras coming to Michigan prisons

Among the many sources that state money is expected to pour into when the governor gives it her signature are body cameras for employees in Michigan prisons.

More than $10 million and an eight-person team are part of the funding allocation. The aim is to increase accountability as well as emphasize safety for both staff and the prison population.

“To us, this about safety,” said Kyle Kaminsky, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

“Safety for staff, safety for the residents of our facilities. But also, accountability; so that we know, and everyone else knows that interactions and critical incidents are going to be captured.”

MDOC had pushed lawmakers to free up money for body cameras following progress in other states.

Michigan, now the sixth state in the U.S. to require body cameras in prisons, hopes to see similar trends like in Florida, which saw drops in reports of violence in their facilities. Reports from Ohio showed an example of body cameras being put to work helped de-escalate a scenario involving an irate inmate.

“The prisoner was clearly becoming escalated in terms of how they were acting with that staff member,” Kaminsky said. “That staff member, you can tell from the video, reached up and turned their camera on. So the prisoner could see the camera had turned on. It immediately de-escalated the situation.”

Kaminsky also said the reaction has been generally supportive of the new policy.

However, it has also prompted more questions from staff.

“Staff want to understand how this tool is going to be used. How these cameras will be used. How these cameras will be deployed. That’s not unexpected,” he said.

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