Lawmakers want info about troubling Michigan prison conditions

The Detroit News

Pittsfield Township, Mich. – Two lawmakers from different parties are demanding answers from the state Corrections Department about conditions at prisons.

Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said his office has been told that staff shortages at the women’s prison in Washtenaw County have led to “forced overtime, mandatory 24-hour shifts and individual officers being left alone.”

Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.

Irwin asked the chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee to hold a hearing about the Huron Valley prison.

“These staff shortages are making life immeasurably worse for inmates, and it’s curbing their access to programs that will help them reenter society successfully,” Irwin said Wednesday.

A message seeking comment was sent to the Corrections Department, which reported hundreds of vacancies in the prison system last fall.

On Dec. 29, Sen. Ed McBroom, a Republican from the Upper Peninsula who chairs the committee, said he would hold hearings about prison conditions. He sent a letter to the department seeking information about assaults on staff and prison staff recruitment, among other issues.

“The department must propose bold actions and plans or provide real feedback to legislative attempts to rectify the situation in order to prevent future serious incidents,” McBroom said.