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Human Rights Report Details Women in Prison

A recent report from the group Human Rights Watch, titled Nowhere to Hide: Retaliation Against Women in Michigan State Prisons , charges both that Michigan holds female prisoners in horrid conditions and that women who challenge these conditions are subject to retaliation by guards.

Five women are looked at in detail in the study. All five are part of an ongoing law suit against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) which charges that prison officials have not stopped guards and staff from committing acts of sexual assault and abuse against female inmates. Ronesha Williams, one woman in the report, was raped by a prison guard in May of 1997. Two months later Williams reported the incident to U.S. Justice Department officials who made no effort to hide her identity from prison guards. Consequently Williams found herself constantly being verbally harassed by guards who knew that she had accused one of them of rape. Williams was also charged with violations that other prisoners would not receive citations for. As a result, her release from prison was delayed.

Nowhere to Hide concludes by arguing that such reprisals deter female prisoners from reporting abuses and that so consequently the conditions in prisons continue to be brutal and often get worse. In order to remedy the situation the report suggests that the MDOC needs to adopt new procedures which allow women to report guard misconduct without fear that the guards will immediately become aware of the allegation.

For more information on Nowhere to Hide contact Human Rights Watch at: Human Rights Watch, 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10118-3299. Phone: (212) 290-4700. Fax: (212) 736-1300. Email: hrwnyc Web:

For those with access to the World Wide Web the report itself can be found at

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