Suppose, through some unpleasant series of events, your mother, or sister, or daughter ended up in prison. And then suppose that this message from her showed up in your inbox this week. Your response?
“This is absolutely cruel
and unusual punishment! I have tested negative for COVID 19. So, this prison,
WHV, decided it was a good idea to lock me up in a unit (Emmett) that’s been
closed down due to unlivable conditions over 6 months ago. We have no hot water
for showers or washing our hands. We've had no clean laundry for 6 days now. No commissary store. And, they
serve us ice cold food from the chow hall. This unit has one microwave oven that
barely works at all.
“All our mail and grievances
sit in milkcrates on the desk, not going anywhere.
“There is no heat in this
16-man cell that they placed us in. My bunk is next to an outside door that
leaks into the cell and is covered in mold. We have one hot-pot for hot water
and were told not to drink it, that it’s for laundry. And yet when we get
called for medication lines they let us outside with the positive cases, and
some of these prisoners hug and kiss one another!
My point: Why are we locked up in this craziness????
“Can someone outside help
Pat is a white, middle-aged woman who got into some drug trouble and wound up in Michigan’s only prison for women, Women’s Huron Valley. She’s among some 2,000 women who live in the sprawling facility in Ypsilanti. She’s a client of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, and she sent us that message a few days ago.
Sadly, we were not surprised. A check of the archives shows that I’ve been writing about these issues for years. The MDOC denies that it's all that bad. There's little change or improvement.
In 2019 a class action suit was filed against the MDOC and that facility. In his story about the filing, Detroit Free Press writer Paul Egan reported “Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility near Ypsilanti is overcrowded, understaffed, poorly managed and ‘operating under a state of degradation, filth, and inhumanity, endangering the health and safety of incarcerated women and staff alike daily,’ the suit alleges.”
In 2015, when she first took office, in a private face-to-face meeting with the new MDOC Director, Heidi Washington assured me that she had a personal interest in WHV and would see that changes were made.
We’re still waiting.