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Nowhere To Hide: Retaliation Against Women in Michigan State Prisons

NCJ Number
Human Rights Watch Volume: 10 Issue: 2 Dated: September 1998 Pages: 2-27
A. Widney Brown
Regan E. Ralph
Date Published
September 1998
26 pages
Research conducted in Michigan focused on retaliation by some correctional personnel against several female inmates who were active in the ongoing civil litigation against the Michigan Department of Corrections alleging widespread sexual abuse by correctional guards and staff and on the impact of the perceived retaliation on other inmates.
The research followed the December 1996 publication of a report titled "All Too Familiar," which documented pervasive sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and privacy violations by guards and other correctional employees in several States. The subsequent Michigan research was conducted from December 1997 through June 1998 and focused on the experiences of a few women who were participating in the class action lawsuit, Nunn v. Michigan Department of Corrections. Information came from interviews of the women, their attorneys, and former guards and from a review of materials available through the discovery process in the Nunn lawsuit. "All Too Familiar" concluded that the issues in Michigan are largely representative of those in corrections departments elsewhere. It also noted that a clear contributing factor to sexual abuse of female inmates is that male correctional employees are allowed to hold contact positions over female inmates, contrary to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The present research revealed that women believed that guards and the corrections department were sending them the clear message that any attempt to protect themselves from sexual abuse by reporting it would result in punitive actions by guards and that guards will not be monitored and disciplined. These and other findings point to the need for the Federal and Michigan State governments to take several specific actions to prevent custodial sexual abuse. Footnotes