State to pay $80M after claims of sexual abuse by youth in prison

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington today announced the filing of a settlement document in the Doe et al. v. Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) cases.

The state has announced an $80 million settlement in the Doe case which was filed back in 2013 on behalf of more than 1,300 young offenders. They say they were mistreated and sexually abused while being housed in adult prisons.

“The Governor and I took office last year. There were a number of ongoing cases we inherited, none perhaps more challenging in what has been known as the Doe case,” said the Michigan Department of Attorney General Chief of Operations Christina Grossi on behalf of Dana Nessel.

The state has agreed to settle which includes two components. In this agreement the state will pay $80 million in installments through 2022 and the Michigan Department of Corrections will introduce a youth offender policy within six months.

Grossi said the policy will address, “Segregation, discipline, use of force, staff training and the reporting and tracking of incidents of sexual abuse and harassment.”

The MDOC Director Heidi Washington said she wants the legislature to help end the practice of sentencing youthful offenders to adult prisons.

“Unfortunately we still have a system that allows individuals as young as 13-years-old to come into our adult prison system and this has led us to where we are today,” Washington said.

According to the settlement agreement:

  • requires that any crime victim who is still owed restitution; any custodial parent who is still owed child support; and any court that has extended resources to a prisoner benefiting from the settlement must be paid first out of settlement proceeds. 
  • the Michigan Department of Corrections will introduce a policy within six months, which will be directed to youthful offenders to address segregation, discipline, use of force, staff training and the reporting and tracking of incidents of sexual abuse and harassment above and beyond the protection of federal law.   
  • the settlement will go before the Washtenaw County Circuit Court on April 9, and the court will determine if the agreement is fair, reasonable and in the best interest of the parties. 

The MDOC has roughly 38,000 prisoners, with 29 of them being youthful offenders. In recent years there have been as many as 90 youthful offenders at one time. 

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