From 2003 to 2013, Michigan prosecuted over 20,000 juvenile offenders as adults. Advocates for juvenile justice reform say youth housed in adult prisons are at a much greater risk for sexual abuse and suicide than the adult prison population. And while there is now a sight and sound barrier between juvenile offenders and the adult prison population, that wasn’t always the case. The state is now facing allegations from seven former juvenile offenders that they were sexually abused by both other prisoners and prison staff while housed in those facilities.
At the Southern Michigan Prison near Jackson, Cell Block 7 housed thousands of inmates beginning in the 1930s. Prisoners had been convicted of crimes ranging from liquor law violations to murder. Soon, that same cell block will be transformed into a museum that tells Jackson’s story as perhaps Michigan’s best known correctional center, which at one time was the largest walled prison in the world.
Inmates who leave Michigan prisons at the end of their sentences need an array of support services to help them successfully reenter society. The Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative was created in 2003 to fulfill that goal. The program has done quite well in the years since, but the state is still seeking ways to improve. The Michigan Department of Corrections is asking service providers to help enhance the post-prison experience for those who’ve served their time.
Michigan State University officials have announced a plan to help out the state’s 43,000 prisoners. The university’s College of Human Medicine will collaborate with the Michigan Department of Corrections in an effort to share the school’s expertise and resources toward promoting prisoner health.
On the night of April 19, 1989, a young white woman was raped in Central Park and left for dead. New York City was outraged by the crime. The next day police arrested 5 Black and Latino teenagers, and the media frenzy began.
Michigan spends $2 billion annually on its prison system. That’s slightly more than one-fifth of the state’s general fund, according to a 2012 House Fiscal Agency report. In order to whittle down the size of the prison system’s financial burden, Michigan lawmakers have been looking at private companies to provide services.
On today's Current State: Local efforts for immigration reform, Michigan prison breakouts, a musical celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the hometown competitors in this weekend's U.S. National Figure Skating Championships.