Audit: MDOC Alternative Prison Program shows safety, reporting issues

A Department of Corrections alternative incarceration program for certain male prisoners and probationers was found to have issues regarding a lack of radio check-ins and a failure to keep program attendees within a secure perimeter, an audit released Thursday found.

MDOC’s Special Alternative Incarceration (SAI) program operates as an alternative prison program for male prisoners and probationers convicted of certain crimes. It functions as a 90-day intensive program that focuses on developing offender self-esteem and self-discipline, a sense of individual responsibility and to engender a positive work ethic.


As of the 2018 fiscal year, the program had graduated 817 offenders – known within the program as trainees – and incurred $13.5 million in expenses, averaging a cost of $16,524 per graduate.

The Office of Auditor General’s Thursday findings, however, note issues regarding SAI’s monitoring of trainees regarding safety and training of inmates as well as monitoring of where they worked on SAI training grounds.

Regarding training, a random sampling of 68 trainees found that 25 of them did not have any training documentation, five did not have files containing evidence that training was provided and six trainees’ files indicated they had received training but only after already being placed on a work roster for between seven and 45 days.

An MDOC policy directive requires offenders to complete training and orientation prior to working on an assignment and requires training documentation to be retained for the duration of the offender’s sentence, plus an addition three years following that point.

The audit also indicated SAI allowed inmates to work on facility grounds outside of the inner secure perimeter gate, with outer security gates still open. SAI operating procedures only allow trainees to work outside of the Gate 2 but inside Gate 1 only if the latter gate remains closed.

Auditors physically observed trainees being allowed to work outside of the inner gate with the outer gates open on a daily basis, only noting that “Gate 1 was closed only two occasions for approximately five minutes each time.”

“It appeared to us that SAI considered the trainees as low risk of escape and, therefore, did not enforce the requirement,” the audit reads.

The report also notes SAI inappropriately assigned trainees to work in its administration building outside the secure perimeter, that it did not inspect public works transportation vehicles prior to leaving the facility and that it did not ensure all trainees assigned to gate pass or public works received safety and tool training prior to their work assignments.

Other major findings included that SAI did not properly complete at least 40 percent of cate manifests – or a record used to control materials and supplies entering and leaving a facility through the front gates and sallyport – and that it failed to conduct a number of radio checks, either at all or radioing in later than what was scheduled.

MDOC agreed with the OAG’s assessment and wrote that due to SAI’s relocation – now inside of the Cooper Street Correctional Facility in Jackson, having moved from its original lodgings in the Special Alternative Incarceration Facility in Chelsea – the program’s processes would be realigned to fit that of the prison’s.

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