Address Inhumane & Dangerous Conditions at Huron Valley Women's Prison

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, MDOC Director Heidi Washington

Conditions at Michigan's one prison for women have been problematic long before COVID. Overcrowding, lack of access to mental health and adequate medical services, lack of programming, major staffing shortages which lead to fatigue and outright abuse, antiquated buildings, sewage & heating and cooling systems, and more have plagued Women's Huron Valley for years.

COVID 19 has exacerbated existing problems at the Valley. A recent memo from Sen. Jeff Irwin, reporting from Prison Radio, and accounts from women held at the facility document reduced access to yard time and rehabilitation programs, overcrowding, lack of access to cleaning and sanitary items, and inadequate COVID protections.

These conditions have led to a COVID surge at Huron Valley. According to the Detroit Free Press, the facility "constitutes 60% of all known cases [of COVID] among the incarcerated in the state."

This dangerous conditions at the prison require immediate action to address the crisis as well as long-term changes to improve oversight, remedy inhumane conditions, and release women who could safely return to their communities.

Sponsored by:

  • American Friends Service Committee Michigan Criminal Justice Program
  • Emergent Justice
  • Huron Valley DSA
  • Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice
  • Just Us NOW
  • Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration
  • Michigan Liberation
  • Nation Outside
  • Prison Radio
  • Southeast MI Pull Over Prevention
  • Redeeming Kimberly
  • Silent Cry
  • Survivors Speak

To: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, MDOC Director Heidi Washington
From: [Your Name]

We are concerned about reports of dangerous and inhumane conditions for women held at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility.

We call on your department to make immediate changes to address the situation including:
-- Immediately address complaints related to inhumane conditions such as extensive mold and lack of heat, hot water, yard access, and access to cleaning and hygiene supplies.
-- Ensure adequate COVID protection such as providing high-quality, well-fitting masks and regular testing.
-- Ensure women have adequate movement within unit.
-- Suspend issuing misconducts in cases not involving serious bodily injury during this stressful time.
-- Cease the practice of double-bunking in 10x10 cells.
-- Expand access to phone and video call time and eliminate fees for these services that maintain connection to family and improve post-release outcomes.
-- Initiate decarceration processes to identify women who could safely return to their communities now for parole, clemency, or compassionate release.

The current crisis at Huron Valley highlights the need for more robust oversight of the Department of Corrections to ensure humane conditions for employees and for incarcerated people. We therefore also support creation of a Community Oversight Advisory Committee as called for in SB 487.