Appeals Court Looking At Lawsuit Over Alleged Abuse Of Young Prisoners

LANSING (WWJ) – A pivotal hearing is being held Tuesday before the Court of Appeals in a major lawsuit against the state from hundreds of juveniles.

The lawsuit, initially filed in 2013, is now a class action suit involving over 600 youth who served time in Michigan’s adult prisons, alleging they were subjected to rape and sexual assaults from adult prisoners and staff. The suit is seeking protection under state civil rights laws.

The state is expected to argue they are immune from all claims under such laws, and that the equal protection clause has not been violated. Advocates for the juveniles, however, say that would allow the state to discriminate with no judicial accountability.

The lawsuit contends that young male prisoners, typically ages 16 or 17, were forced to engage in sex acts with adult prisoners and staff, with some abuse “open and obvious.” It says sexual assaults occurred at prisons throughout the state before the Corrections Department assigned all male inmates younger than 18 to a prison in Lapeer. That transition began in 2012.

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