GEO begins sending ‘tentative offer’ to potential hires

BALDWIN — While no contract has been signed yet, an official at Michigan Works! confirmed Monday that some applicants have received letters outlining a conditional offer of employment from GEO Group, owner and operator of the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin.

“There are some folks receiving a letter that, as far as I understand, is a tentative offer of employment,” said Michelle Rasmussen, business services director for Michigan Works! West Central. “But we have not (gotten confirmation) from GEO that they have a signed contract in place (to house inmates).”

GEO, which kicked off its hiring process in mid-September with a job fair at North Lake, has previously said they had submitted bids to several groups to bring inmates to the 1,700-bed facility.

Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, said he expects a decision to be made in the coming weeks regarding bids received by GEO and another company to house inmates for the state.

“There is no set deadline for when (a decision) would be reached,” Marlan said. “The Department for Technology, Management and Budget is really running that bid for us, but it is our understanding that they are pretty close to concluding that (process).”

The bids have been opened and considered, but since this is the first bid process since the passage of a law requiring any contracts signed with private corrections companies to guarantee at least 10 percent cost savings, officials want to make sure they have an accurate cost baseline from the MDC, he added, noting that if neither bid meets the 10 percent savings requirement, then the state will look at other options.

“The challenge has been getting an accurate assessment of what our true costs (are),” Marland said, adding that private companies would not be providing food services or health care to inmates, and with different security levels, it is difficult to compare apples-to-apples.

The Michigan Works! offices in Big Rapids and Reed City have banners announcing GEO's push for applicants. (Pioneer photo/Josh Roesner)

The Michigan Works! offices in Big Rapids and Reed City have banners announcing GEO’s push for applicants. (Pioneer photo/Josh Roesner)

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