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Michigan: Money Bilked From Prisoners

Michigan: Money Bilked From Prisoners Used For Bonuses

While Michigan was trying to boost its cash-starved budget through spending cuts and tax increases, those in the Attorney General's Office were feasting on money squeezed from state prisoners.
In October 2004, Attorney General Mike Cox paid $340,000 in merit bonuses to his legal staff, most of them assistant attorneys general who already earn up to $100,000 a year. The bonuses ranged from $150 to $1,700 for each of the 240 employees.

Money for the bonuses came from $1.7 million in assets seized from prisoners during the previous year. The assets were confiscated by the attorney general's office purportedly to cover the costs of imprisonment. We collected more in prisoner reimbursement than anyone thought we could, and we decided to share some of it with folks in the office," Cox said.

An official in Governor Jennifer Granholm's administration said the money should have gone into the state's general fund instead of being used to pay bonuses.

Officials with the Michigan State Employees Unionwho swallowed $230 million worth of pay concessions in fiscal year 2003-04 and were being asked to take another $148 million hit in 2004-05were understandably riled by the impromptu payments.

These attorneys are getting bonuses up to 3 percent, and we've been asked to take zero percent this year after taking what amounted to a 9 percent cut last year," said Jack Yoak, president of the 4,000-member union. That's unfair, and we're not real happy about it."

Source: State Journal

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