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Snyder appoints 'U' alum as director of Michigan Department of Corrections

BY KAITLIN WILLIAMS
Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 21, 2011

Republican Governor Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that Jackson County Sheriff and University alum Daniel Heyns will assume the position of director of the Michigan Department of Corrections on June 1.

Heyns — who publicly opposed former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2010 for her initiative to release more nonviolent offenders from prisons in order to cut costs of supervising and maintaining inmates — will now be responsible for allocating approximately a quarter of the state’s general fund budget. This money will go toward maintaining 34 prison facilities across the state, containing a population of approximately 43,900 inmates.

In the last four years, eight prison camps and six prisons have closed, and Snyder may close two more facilities by the end of this year, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections website. Despite the closures, the site also states that MDOC’s expenditures continue to rise due to costs associated with caring for offenders serving out their sentences.

A bill analysis for the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget sets the MDOC’s gross appropriation of funds over $2 billion. According to an April 20 article in the Chicago Tribune, Heyns plans to address issues outlined in auditor general reports, such as weaknesses in medicine regulation for inmates and difficulties in generating profit from inmate work programs.

"I have been reading those audits," Heyns is quoted saying in the article. "Those are issues of management that I'm concerned with. I think we have to take a real close look at how we're doing business and what are the flaws in our management style and procedures."

Heyns has served as Jackson County Sheriff since 2003. In addition to graduating from the National FBI Academy, he has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and master’s degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University.

Snyder said Heyns has the experience necessary to run the MDOC, according to an Apr. 20 press release issued by the state government.

"Sheriff Heyns has exactly the type of skills we were looking for in a corrections director," Snyder said in the release. "His experience managing the sheriff's department, operating a jail operation and his keen understanding of how local jurisdictions can work cooperatively with our state correctional facilities make him an excellent choice for director of Corrections."

The MDOC’s acting director, Dick McKeon, who was appointed by Snyder in Dec. 2010, will now serve as Heyn’s adviser after his appointment begins in June, according to the press release.

Heyns could not be reached for a comment after multiple attempts made by The Michigan Daily this afternoon.