Gather outside women’s prison in Michigan to shed light on alleged “rape” of inmates

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The Huron Valley Correctional Facility is the only prison for women in Michigan.  - SHUTTERLOCK

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  • The Huron Valley Correctional Facility is the only prison for women in Michigan.

Protesters plan to meet outside Michigan’s only women’s jail on Sunday after disturbing allegations of rape, retaliation and neglect.

Two former Michigan Department of Corrections employees say they have witnessed a culture of “rape” at the Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township, Washtenaw County, about 40 miles west of Detroit. They also said drugs were being distributed to inmates participating in a program to combat opioid addiction. In addition, they said, inmates are afraid of retaliation and are denied medical attention if they are seriously ill.

“The prison violates the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which is intended to combat this behavior, not to force sexual misconduct in our institutions,” Civil Rights Attorney Dionne Webster-Cox of the Webster Law Office said in a statement. “We maintain that there should be zero tolerance for sexual violence, sexual misconduct by staff and sexual harassment at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility for all offenders under its jurisdiction. Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Webster-Cox plans to speak at the meeting Sunday afternoon outside the jail at 3201 Bemis Road.

According to Webster Cox, two correctional officers were fired in retaliation for trying to warn authorities about what happened in jail.

The prison has a history of neglect and abuse. In 2009, the state paid $ 100 million to settle lawsuits alleging that male detectives had sexually abused and harassed female prisoners.

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 claimed they had been sexually assaulted, according to the MDOC.

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 alleged a number of problems, including overcrowding, poor ventilation and leaky roofs that contributed to chronic mold that made the inmates ill.

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, the Huron Valley Correctional Facility has more active cases than any other prison in Michigan.

Metro Times
featured several former inmates in the prison in a cover story in May 2021. One of those inmates, Machelle Pearson, was raped by a guard and fertilized.

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