Sen. Geiss Introduces Bill to Protect Prisoners at Huron Valley Facility

LANSING, Mich. (May 27, 2021) — Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) today joined prison reform advocates to discuss improving the treatment of prisoners at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, the only all-women prison in Michigan.

“Inmates at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility have unique needs as compared to their male counterparts at other facilities, and we need to ensure we are meeting these needs,” Sen. Geiss said. “Having inmates and their families know that someone is ensuring their humane treatment is the first step in a long list of necessary reforms to the corrections system. We have learned there ought to be an advisory board to address health and safety needs. From ensuring a safe and viable delivery for pregnant inmates, to having enough hygiene products to prevent illness or disease, the health crisis failures such as the COVID-19 pandemic and scabies outbreaks in previous years can be avoided with the proper oversight, response, and reporting mechanisms.”

Senate Bill 487 creates an advisory board to oversee conditions of confinement for all prisoners at the Huron Valley Correctional Facility. The 13-member board would be housed within the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and would include such a range of people with expertise in the needs of this unique population.

“Oversight offers another layer of safety and care for people inside Huron Valley,” said Siwatu-Salama Ra, a Detroit organizer. “Care that is democratized across the board is what they are due.”

A similar iteration of this bill from the previous term saw unanimous approval from the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

“Michigan’s prisons belong to the people. Yet, the public is often kept from seeing what happens behind the razor wire and concrete,” said Natalie Holbrook, program director for American Friends and Service Committee. “This committee will create important windows of transparency and checks and balances. Accountability and oversight move us one step closer to engaging in our communities with systems rooted in transformation and resource sharing, rather than punishment and community devastation.”

SB 487 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

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