IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — The Ionia Correctional Facility houses inmates with both custody classification Level V, which is a maximum security inmate, and Level II, a more relaxed rating.
Michael Elliot, who was convicted of four 1993 murders and was sentenced to five life terms, was rated Level II.
Elliot, 40, escaped Sunday evening from the state prison outside of Ionia. He was captured Monday evening in LaPorte County, Ind.
“Classifying inmates at the correct security level is import to us,” Michigan Department of Corrections Director Daniel Heyns said Monday. “We spent a great deal of time doing that in a safe and thoughtful way, measured way but clearly this man was an escape risk.”
A building set apart from the rest of the prison housed Elliot and his fellow Level II inmates. Security is more relaxed there than other maximum security Level V units at the prison.
In the Level V area, prisoners are kept in single-cell units and have a separate fenced in recreational yard just for them.
Level II prisoners are housed in what is known as the pole barn, as it’s described on the correction facility’s website. According to a former guard, it’s an open dorm type building that the inmates can move around in. There are a total of 240 beds and three guards. The unit has shower laundry and recreation areas.
Outside, they have separate yard areas with access to a weight pit, basketball courts, volleyball, baseball, horseshoes and a running track.
Level II prisoners are also trusted with jobs.
“This particular inmate had had no institutional problems for many years,” Heyns said.
An expert told 24 Hour News 8 that typically after an escapee is captured, he is charged with escaping, usually moved to a different prison and put into solitary confinement for “an indeterminate amount of time” — that means he will have hardly any out-of-cell movement.