Prison conditions of confinement not only affect people living in prison but can severely limit the ability of family members and loved ones to visit and communicate with their loved ones in prison. Most often, reports of unfair living conditions are related to long-term segregation (solitary confinement), lateral transfers to prisons excessively far from loved ones, and seemingly unjustified transfers to prisons of a higher security level.
All of these conditions work against the goal of rehabilitation, releases, and successful reintegration into society. For a person housed in segregation, maximum security, or close security settings, there is very little opportunity to participate in programming of any sort. Educational classes, therapeutic groups, vocational training, and even substance abuse programs are scarce or non-existent.
There are requests for help from prisoners who believe that prison staff mistreat them or harass them. If unethical and abusive behavior of prison staff is not reported, the problem and abuse will continue and probably increase.
It is very important to report abuse in order to protect the rights and safety of prisoners. It is also important to understand what harassment is and what can and cannot be done.
WHAT IS HARASSMENT?
Harassment may be expressed in humiliating terms, excessive extortion or unreasonable orders. The MDOC Employee Handbook states that employees should act as role models: “One of the main goals of the Department is to influence offenders and convince them to become law-abiding citizens. The behavior of the department’s employees in the performance of official duties and off-duty hours should serve as an example of proper behavior.” If employees abuse their authority by shaking up the same person’s cell day after day, or if an employee constantly talks to people in an inappropriate way — whether it’s simple name-calling, disclosure of information from a prisoner’s dossier, discriminatory actions or remarks or sexual harassment – this is something that should be reported. Again, the dates, times, and names of the employees involved are vital.
Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration (MI-CEMI)
MI-CEMI is a group of over 50 organizations and hundreds of individuals dedicated to ending mass incarceration in Michigan. MI-CEMI members meet regularly to coordinate efforts, connect to national movements that are addressing systemic inequality and mass incarceration, mobilize people on the ground, and share their areas of expertise. AFSC is a proud member of this collaborative. To learn more about the collaborative, or to join, check out their website!
Nation Outside is comprised of formerly incarcerated people, allies, and supportive organizations who are working to reduce mass incarceration and its impact in our communities. Their mission is to organize, mobilize, and support formerly incarcerated people and their families to advocate for political and social changes that will reduce racial profiling and incarceration, and to educate the community about the successes and contributions of the formerly incarcerated in order to enhance their capacity to thrive.