Protesters plan to gather outside Michigan’s only women’s prison on Sunday following alarming allegations of rape, revenge and neglect.
Two former employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections said they witnessed the culture of “punishment for rape” at Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township in Washtenaw County, about 40 miles west of Detroit. They also said the drugs were distributed to inmates who participate in a program to combat opioid additives. Additionally, they said, inmates fear reprisals and are denied medical care if they are seriously ill.
“Jail violates the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which is supposed to combat such behavior, not force sexual misconduct within our institutions,” civil rights attorney Dionne Webster Cox, of Webster Law Firm, said in a statement. “We affirm that sexual violence, sexual misconduct by staff, and sexual harassment at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility must have zero tolerance for all perpetrators under its jurisdiction. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Webster Cox plans to speak at the rally Sunday noon outside the prison at 3201 Bemis Rd.
According to Buster Cox, two corrections officers were fired in retaliation for trying to alert authorities to what was happening in the prison.
The prison has a history of neglect and abuse. In 2009, the state paid $100 million to settle lawsuits alleging that male corrections officers sexually assaulted and harassed female inmates.
The alleged abuse continued after the case was settled. Between July 2018 and June 2019, 146 women said they had been sexually harassed and 12 women alleged they had been sexually assaulted, according to the Ministry of Defense for Women’s Rights.
In September 2019, the prison was closed to visitors due to an outbreak of scabies. About 2,000 women were isolated after women began complaining of rashes.
A class-action lawsuit filed in September 2019 alleges a host of problems, including overcrowding, poor ventilation and leaky ceilings that contributed to the chronic mold that has been making inmates sick.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, 1,046 inmates have tested positive and four have died, According to the Michigan Department of Corrections. With 327 current COVID-19 infections, Huron Valley Correctional Facility has more active cases than any other prison in Michigan.
Metro Times Many ex-prisoners appeared in prison In a cover story in May 2021. One of these prisoners, Michael Pearson, was raped by a guard and she became pregnant.