For years, rights groups warned that male guards were sexually assaulting female inmates in Michigan prisons. For years, those warnings went unheeded. Now, state taxpayers may pay a price too. More than 500 women are suing. They stand to collect $50 million so far, with more trials to come. This is their story.Excuses?
The state had a simple defense: These women are prisoners, and prisoners lie; if something did happen, it was the act of a few rogue guards; and if something did happen, the women didn't report it. So how could the Department of Corrections prevent what it didn't know was happening? The state said it thoroughly investigated any allegations it knew about and the claims of abuse were exaggerated.Tolerated it because some people don't matter.
"To say the department just sat back and did nothing, just let everybody run the place is just totally false," Allan Soros, an assistant attorney general, said at the first trial.
Nonetheless, a series of human rights reports throughout the 1990s said sexual assaults on female inmates were rampant and corrections officials tolerated the climate.
Is this Justice? Hardly.