A protest was held outside of the Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti on Sunday, Jan. 16, after allegations of mistreatment of prisoners and inadequate facility conditions emerged.
The Huron Valley Correctional Facility is Michigan’s singular women-only prison, and the rally was held in part due to allegations of sexual misconduct at the prison.
Two former employees at the facility allege that there is a “culture of rape punishment” at the facility. They also accuse the prison of allegedly distributing drugs to inmates who are fighting against drug addiction and of medical negligence.
A report was also released by the Michigan Department of Corrections, noting several concerns with the state of the facility, including overcrowding, poor ventilation, and leaky roofs.
“Prison Radio,” a radio show and activist project, has released a special collection of commentaries coming from the Huron Valley Women’s Prison. One inmate, Krystal Clark, reported that there was a chronic mold problem at the facility.
“I’m allergic to the mold. They told them not to house me in here but I’m back in here with the black mold everywhere and can barely breathe,” Clark, who suffers from health issues such as a heart condition and asthma, said.
Clark accuses the warden and doctors at the facility of neglect despite being allegedly aware of the conditions. She also accuses them of allegedly covering up the conditions of the facility on purpose.
There have also been several testimonies of COVID negligence at the prison. Another prisoner, Brandi Oligney, tested positive for COVID-19 after working in the prison’s kitchen.
“They put me in a unit, and I am on medication to treat drug addiction,” Oligney said. “They are not giving me my medications. So for three days, I haven’t had my medication. I’m on complete withdrawal on top of COVID. I’ve talked to two different surgeons on this and they have no disregard. Instead, they threatened to lock me up and put me in segregation because I’m demanding to see somebody.”
“They keep bringing more and more people in this unit who have the disease, but no one’s even seen a doctor yet,” Oligney said. “We haven’t had any health care in here whatsoever.”
Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) addressed these concerns earlier this month. In a letter released on Jan. 5, Irwin called for a hearing on the conditions a the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional facility.
In his letter, Irwin emphasizes the severe staffing shortage at the facility and how these staffing shortages pose threats against the inmates at Huron Valley.
“As members of the Senate Oversight Committee and as members of the legislature, we must ensure that inmates are treated humanely, and that state employees have suitable working conditions and the support they need to carry out their responsibilities,” Irwin said in a written statement.
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