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U.S. Sues Prisons in Arizona and Michigan

In February 1997, the Justice Department filed separate lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Phoenix and Detroit alleging that state-run prisons in Michigan and Arizona fail to protect female prisoners from sexual assaults committed by prison guards and staff.

At the Arizona Center for Women and at state prison facilities in Alhambra, Perryville, and Tucson, female prisoners have been subjected to sexual misconduct and unlawful invasion of privacy, including prurient viewing during showering, toileting, and dressing, the department charged.

At Michigan's Scott and Crane correctional facilities, female prisoners have been subjected to the same sexual criminal behavior as the women at the Arizona facilities. But the department also alleges that the Michigan women are receiving inadeqate medical and mental health care as well.

The Department of Justice alleges that the conditions discovered in the Arizona and Michigan facilities violate the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980.

Michigan refuses to allow Justice investigators access to its prisons and would not negotiate to resolve the allegations, the department said. Arizona refuses to allow Justice attorneys to interview prison staff and prisoners.

The Associated Press

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