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Outside commission proposed to oversee Michigan's only women's prison

Women's prison
Michigan Department of Corrections

State Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) has introduced a bill to create a committee overseeing conditions at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.

At a press conference to introduce SB 487, Geiss said there are serious issues with sanitation, overcrowding, and access to timely medical care at the state's only women's prison.

She said a committee, which would include experts on best practices in prisons, and former inmates, could help address such problems and prevent new ones.

The prison is in State Senator Jeff Irwin’s (D-Ann Arbor) district; he said he fully supports the bill. Had the committee been in place, said Irwin, a protracted scabies outbreak at the prison in 2019 could have been caught much earlier.

And he said the committee could help with similar conditions that exist at men's prisons.

“Like the quality of food and how the terrible quality of food is causing not just problems for our inmates but is spiking our health care costs absurdly,” he said.

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said an outside committee isn't needed. He said there are already several layers of oversight in place at state prisons.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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