LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The embattled Michigan Department of Corrections is facing an onslaught of criticism from lawmakers and corrections officers alike.

Now, State Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Springport) is calling for the immediate resignation of Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. Lightner said Washington’s ten-year tenure has failed to address severe staffing shortages and dangerous working conditions for the 5,500 corrections officers in Michigan in charge of 33,000 inmates.

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“We’ve seen a net loss of corrections officers every single year for the last six years, putting our corrections officers who remain on the job in an increasingly dangerous situation,” Lightner said. “Despite the evident crisis, Director Washington has failed to implement a plan to address the critical staffing shortages, which has resulted in severe low morale, depression, anxiety, and fear among our dedicated corrections officers.” Lightner continued, “Our officers, and our state, deserve better. It is time for Director Washington to resign.”

The Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO), the union representing Michigan’s corrections officers, reports that prison guards are frequently forced to work mandatory 16-hour shifts. In a recent letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the MCO asked for her to activate the Michigan National Guard to fill the gaps.

Lightner’s colleague, Rep. Kathy Schmaltz (R-Jackson) blasted the state’s Democrats for axing $12 million from this year’s budget that had previously been earmarked for signing and retention bonuses to help address the staffing shortage.