State Fights to Deny Teen Inmates Civil Rights

Class action suit stalled while AG argues teens don’t have certain legal rights

The Michigan Court of Appeals is considering a case to decide whether a group of incarcerated teens will be allowed to sue the state for sexual abuse. At issue is whether the 600 youth qualify to file suit under the Michigan civil rights laws. The teens claim they were sexually assaulted by other prisoners while being housed in adult facilities. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says civil rights laws do not apply to incarcerated teens. Deputy Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Dan Korobkin, says the state’s argument is based on a law that was found to be unconstitutional.


The Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act is that law, it’s a constitutionally required law to protect everyone’s civil rights. And so when the legislature then goes in and starts chopping it up and carving out specific groups of people, it’s really violating our state constitutional requirement that everyone be protected by our civil rights laws” -Dan Korobkin, ACLU

Korobkin says a similar lawsuit involving female prisoners, fought on similar grounds by the State, ended up costing Michigan taxpayers about 100 million dollars.

About 15 years ago, the Michigan legislature carved out from our civil rights laws, all prisoners, and said that they had no civil rights under Michigan state law. And a federal judge ruled that that law was unconstitutional”


The appeals court is expected to decide whether the lawsuit, originally filed in 2013, will be allowed to move forward. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office did not return requests for comment on this story.

Click on the audio link above to hear the conversation between Dan Korobkin and WDET’s Amy Miller about this case



  • Amy Miller
    Amy has been working in public and commercial radio for the last 30 yrs. She is an award winning reporter and news anchor, born and raised in Detroit.