DETROIT (WWJ) – Some lawmakers are saying the prison escape from the Ionia Correctional Facility happened due to budget cuts in the system.

Senator Glenn Anderson says scaling back perimeter patrols was “foolish” — security is weaker because food services have been privatized. Michael Elliot escaped wearing a kitchen uniform.

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“And I think in some of these cases the decisions have been made with more regard for the money saved,” said Sen. Anderson, “rather than the security of that institution.”

Sen. Anderson said that Democrats warned state Republicans that privatizing the food service in prisons would lead to weakened security:

“We warned the Republicans that some of the steps they were taking could endanger the citizens of Michigan and I believe it has come into fruition,” added Anderson.

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The Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections Dan Heyns has to implement these budget cuts, but doesn’t feel they had anything to do with the escape.

“There are going to be lots of critics, but most of them have never run a prison – have never even been in a prison so I think you’ve got to be careful about some of the conclusions you jump to,” he said.

“This is a matter of an inmate that spent a lot of time studying the weaknesses in the system and he exploited them,” said Heyns. “Now we’ve just got to adjust and correct and make sure we get it right.”

Heyns is confident the necessary moves will be taken to maximize security in all prisons.

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