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Guards Protest At Prison Saying State Cuts Jeopardize Safety Of All

FREELAND (WWJ) - About 100 corrections officers protested outside the prison in Freeland near Saginaw Thursday.

They were upset about recent staffing cuts that - they say - has contributed to an increase in violence.

This past Friday, guard Kevin Ott was left with a fractured skull and stabbed multiple times after being attacked by an inmate with a lock hidden inside a sock.

Ott remained hospitalized for a week.

Mel Grieshaber is the executive director of the Michigan Correctional Organization, the union for COs, and he says recent cuts make things dangerous.

"On the day shift alone," said Grieshaber,"they have cut eight positions. So, on afternoon shift they have cut eight positions and this is happening in facilities across the state and it puts the officers, all the staff, and indeed the prisoners themselves in danger."

While Grieshaber credits the state allowing officers to use tasers he says it comes at a price.

"On the other hand necessarily for cuts in staffing," he said. "For a correctional officer - staffing equates to safety."

"Correctional officers run the prison, keep the prison safe because the prisoner let them. In any given moment the prisoners can go, and we can never say what is the exact, proper amount to keep everybody safe, because you are never completely safe in a prison."

Grieshaber says mismanagement by food service giant Aramark has contributed to upsetting prisoners.

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