Target: Michigan Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns
Goal: End the mistreatment of mentally ill inmates
A letter detailing human rights violations against inmates at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Michigan was sent recently by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), as well as to the warren of the facility. The letter alleges unsanitary conditions, water and food deprivation, excessive use of force and the use of solitary confinement to punish mentally ill inmates.
“Witnesses have reported seeing mentally ill prisoners denied water and food, ‘hog tied’ naked for many hours and left to stand, sit or lie naked in their own feces and urine, denied showers for days and tasered,” writes executive director Kary Moss at ACLU of Michigan in the letter. According to Moss, one inmate witnessed a fellow prisoner on the floor naked and hog tied with handcuffs. When the witness begged for the other woman’s release, she was told by a guard that she would be restrained that way for two or more hours, as she had not yet learned to “behave.” Moss also writes of a mentally ill inmate who was transferred to a hospital and pronounced brain dead after she was found unresponsive in her cell. The woman had suffered food and water deprivation and poor sanitation while incarcerated. Moss also deplores the use of solitary confinement as punishment for mentally ill prisoners, considering it a violation of their Eight Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.
A report from the MDOC from 2011-12 states that an average of 44 mentally ill inmates and inmates with developmental disorders were in solitary confinement in Michigan correctional facilities every day during that time. According to the National Association of Mental Illness, 40 percent of mentally ill Americans will find themselves in the criminal justice system, mostly charged with non-violent crimes. The most effective method for lowering the recidivism rate of the mentally ill is, unsurprisingly, treatment.
Sign this petition and tell the MDOC that violations of rights and the mistreatment of inmates will not be tolerated.
Dear Mr. Heyns,
The conditions endured by inmates at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional facility are deplorable. Allegations of inmates being deprived of food and water, denied showers, tasered, and being left naked in their own urine and feces are just some of those being leveled against the correctional facility. There are also reports of mentally ill inmates being punished with solitary confinement in violation of their Eight Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.
The punishment these women faced would be horrible for any inmate, but the fact that mentally ill women incarcerated in this facility are facing such atrocities gives little hope for rehabilitation and a poor outlook for recidivism of the mentally ill.
I urge you to ensure that no mentally ill inmates will be forced into solitary confinement and that the conditions in Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility will be drastically changed to reflect a modicum of respect for these women. After all, recidivism falls amongst the mentally ill with treatment, not naked hog tying.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Vectorportal via Flickr