Lawsuit Alleging Juvenile Prisoner Abuse, Assault Dismissed

A lawsuit claiming juvenile inmates were sexually assaulted and harassed while being housed as adults has been dismissed.

Plaintiffs claim guards failed to protect their safety in prison.

The Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed the case on technical grounds. It also said the plaintiffs could not claim protection under Michigan’s civil rights law. That’s because lawmakers exempted prisons from the law in 1999.

An attorney for the plaintiffs says that exemption is unconstitutional and that they plan to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“For the state to argue and at least two members of a panel of the Court of Appeals to agree that these children have no rights under the state’s civil rights act and cannot complain simply because they’re incarcerated I think is of deep concern,” said Ann Arbor attorney Deborah LaBelle.

“We will definitely vigorously pursue the claims on behalf of these children.”

The plaintiffs have also filed a companion lawsuit in federal court.

Michigan corrections officials say they take the allegations “very seriously.” But they there’s no evidence the incidents ever happened.

“We provided more than a half-a-million pages of documents and more than 500 videos as part of the discovery process, which have not provided support for the allegations made in the lawsuit,” said Michigan Department of Corrections spokesperson Chris Gautz.

More coverage:

Back in April, Bridge Magazine’s Ron French, Ann Arbor attorney Deborah LaBelle, and former state Rep. John Haveman  joined WDET host Sandra Svoboda on Detroit Today for a discussion on the alleged sexual abuse of youths in prison.  Read/listen >>>

Image credit: Wikipedia

This post is a part of Michigan Public Radio Network.

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About the Author

Jake Neher

Detroit Today - Producer & Special Projects Reporter

Jake Neher is a producer & reporter for Detroit Today   Follow @GJNeher

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