IONIA (WWJ) – In light of the escape of a convicted killer from the Ionia Correctional Facility last Sunday, Michigan Democrats will launch an independent investigation into the escape of Michael Elliot.
House Majority Leader Tim Greimel says that the focus isn’t to direct blame for the incident.
“The most important thing to keep in mind here is that it’s not about a striving blame,” Greimel said. “It’s about trying to make sure that this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen again.”
“In order to do that, we need to make sure we understand why the prison escape was able to occur,” he said.
Although Greimel said this isn’t about blame, he did say he believes several cuts made by Republicans to the corrections department are part of the problem.
“In fiscal year 2013 budget, Republicans slashed funding for prison perimeter security by over 15 million dollars,” Greimel said. “That cut included the elimination of 135 full-time prison employees, including the jobs and positions of guards who monitor prison perimeters.”
Elliot, who escaped from the maximum security prison in Ionia County last Sunday, enjoyed two days of freedom on the run before being caught in Indiana.
Elliot wasn’t discovered missing until about two hours after an escape that the inmate himself called “relatively simple”.
Although Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette will hold a separate investigation into the escape, Greimel has little confidence that they will give it the attention it needs.
“It’s reasonable to be concerned that a Republican politician like the Attorney General is unlikely to give the matter a robust investigation and amount of scrutiny that it deserves,” Greimel said.
Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20-years-old. He and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer at the time, police said.
Elliot has refused to waive extradition and is being held in Indiana on a $1 million bond. He’s charged with auto theft in Indiana, as well as carjacking, kidnapping and escape in Michigan.