Survivors Vindicated After 13 Year Legal Struggle in Michigan

Washington, DC, July 16, 2009. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) has stimulated significant advances in the effort to end sexual violence in detention, particularly with the recent release of binding national standards addressing this type of abuse. Despite such progress, however, further action is needed to ensure inmate safety.

Just Detention International (JDI) applauds the decision by the Michigan Department of Corrections to settle a class action lawsuit brought by more than 500 female prisoners who were sexually assaulted in Michigan prisons. The case has been going on for more than 10 years -- with the state previously refusing to take responsibility for the rampant abuse in its facilities, even after losing two related trials. The state will pay a total of $100 million to the women victimized in Michigan's prisons.

Settling this case is a positive first step, but not enough to address and prevent the sexual violence that continues to plague Michigan corrections facilities. With support from the Arcus Foundation, JDI is working with the Wayne County, Michigan, jail to provide training, review policy, and create strong partnerships with local rape crisis centers. JDI hopes that today's settlement encourages the state prison system, as well as other county jails in Michigan, to follow Wayne County's example and work to end sexual abuse of those in their custody.

You can read more about the case at the Detroit Free Press.

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