ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Jan. 5, 2022) — Today, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) sent a letter to Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), the chair of the Senate Oversight Committee, requesting a hearing on allegations of extreme staffing shortages and deteriorating prison conditions at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility.
Sen. Irwin received communications that allege Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) personnel are being forced to work overtime and carry out mandatory 24-hour shifts, and individual officers are being left alone to carry out various responsibilities that require two or more people for safety and accountability reasons. Also alleged is that inmates’ yard time, visitation, and time out of their cells are being greatly reduced or simply not happening.
“State employees deserve good working conditions and support, and inmates deserve to be treated humanely — period,” Sen. Irwin said. “MDOC needs to answer these allegations, which is why I’ve requested this hearing. I know that Sen. McBroom agrees that proper oversight of prisons is important, and I look forward to working with him.”
In October 2021, the MDOC reported that there were about 800 total corrections officer vacancies across the state. Michigan corrections facilities have been facing staffing shortages and hiring issues since as early as 2018. These staffing issues were one of the reasons that the Michigan Corrections Organization, a union which represents about 6,000 corrections officers around the state, submitted a vote of no confidence in Director Washington in 2020.
On Dec. 29, 2021, Sen. Ed McBroom sent a letter to the MDOC Director Heidi Washington informing her that the Senate Oversight Committee will be conducting a “hearing on staff shortages and assaults” in January 2022. This hearing is in response to reports of worsening staffing shortages and an increase of violence against corrections officers.
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