US officials tour Michigan prison that could house Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Federal and state officials toured a prison in rural Michigan Thursday in anticipation that it could eventually hold inmates [JURIST report] currently detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Officials have not yet decided [Detroit Free Press report] whether the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility (SMF) [official website] will one day house some of the 229 Guantanamo detainees. Michigan officials are also considering using the SMF to hold out-of-state inmates with overcrowded prisons when SMF closes on October 1. Many local residents prefer [Detroit News report] the latter option, not wanting to have Guantanamo detainees nearby. The US Penitentiary in Leavensworth, Kansas [official website] appears to be the other leading candidate [Miami Herald Report] to house the detainees when the government closes Guantanamo Bay. Also this week, federal officials said that terrorism trials for some inmates could be held at a new high-security courthouse in Newport News, VA [Washington Post report] if the Obama administration sends cases to federal courts [JURIST report].

The Obama administration faces sharp opposition from members of Congress over plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to US soil. In late July, US Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Charles Johnson and Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris [official profile], both members of task force appointed by Obama to oversee the closing of Guantanamo, testified [JURIST report] in front of the House Armed Services Committee [official website] that the Obama administration is considering transferring more Guantanamo Bay detainees to the US as they urged Congress to pass proposed reforms to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] and detainee policy. In May, the US House of Representatives passed a spending bill [HR 2847 materials] that denied [JURIST report] the Obama administration's request for $60 million to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and placed limits on the government's ability to transfer detainees to the US and release detainees to foreign countries. Also in May, the Senate passed an amendment [JURIST report] to a piece of legislation that eliminates $80 million intended to be used for the closure of Guantanamo until the president provides a "comprehensive, responsible plan" detailing how it will be done.

 

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