Gun Young Na, a Corrections Officer with the Republic of Korea's Justice Ministry - Corrections Service, recently toured Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC). Young (the name he preferred to be called) is in a foreign study program through Michigan State University's Criminal Justice Program. He will be in the United States until late December before returning to South Korea where he will share the information he learned with fellow officers and administrators.
Young's IBC tour went very well. He saw many similarities and some differences between the South Korean Corrections Service and the MDOC. One major difference was the actual size and number of prisoners inside the prison. At his correctional facility in Korea, there are over 3,000 prisoners in a fairly compact facility. As he observed IBC's physical plant, he was surprised by the amount of acreage the prison occupies, saying, "Everything's bigger in America. It's beautiful." His facility has a large concrete wall surrounding the perimeter - more like the Michigan Reformatory.
During the tour, he asked many questions of facility staff, including about a 15 minute Q & A with Warden Kenneth McKee, who provided a great overview of facility operations and prisoner reentry. Areas he observed included segregation, education, a general population housing unit, the chow hall, visitation, and the control center.
Young is specifically interested in correctional operations and administration, health care, and litigation issues. He has reviewed many of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) policies and is fascinated by the complexity of the system. He appreciates the grievance policy, which helps reduce costly lawsuits at the institution or department level, rather than in a court of law. He is also fascinated by the suicide prevention measures employed by the MDOC. South Korea is very concerned about high profile prisoners committing suicide because of the shame of imprisonment. Their system is trying to balance prisoner safety and protection with the constitutional right to some level of privacy - even in the prison setting.
Young has several educational requirements he must achieve while in MSU's program, including writing several articles for his department's newsletter. He is excited to learn about Michigan's correctional system and will continue working with the MDOC and other criminal justice entities to complete his course requirements. For more information on the Korean Corrections Service, visit the following link: http://www.moj.go.kr/HP/ENG/eng_03/eng_3090.jsp.