Prison Radio

Dear Friend,

An email is truly not enough space to describe the public health nightmare that is the women’s prison in Ypsilanti, Michigan (Women’s Huron Valley, WHV). The decrepit building hosts decades old ventilation systems, leaky roofs, scabies outbreaks, and moldy walls that are painted over rather than treated. These conditions are an immense danger to the health and safety of every individual forced to live within them.

Naykima Hill called into Prison Radio to report the appalling reality. She was forced to live in an old gym, a “condemned building… [with] no heat [and] no sprinkler system because they’re doing construction.” Even their rights to safe food and water are in peril: Naykima describes that “you can literally taste the mold in the water.” She and other incarcerated women describe the conditions in more graphic detail in the commentary, and their reports are avouched by past reports from as early as 2013. A class action complaint has been launched against the Michigan Department of Corrections for the overgrowth of mold; constant exposure to mold without new ventilation systems is an active threat to respiratory and skin health, with potentially lifetime afflictions such as asthma, memory loss, and cognitive impairment. 

A photo of Ms. Hill

Naykima reached out to let us know exactly what was happening at their facility. Please take a few minutes today to contact Governor Gretchen Whitmer through this e-form and request immediate action to address the dangerous conditions of WHV and accelerate the release of women stranded in this decrepit institution and to address the public health crisis at WHV and accelerate the release of the infirm, elderly, pregnant and those with pre-existing conditions. 

The makeshift housing unit has only “two showers for 36 women,” and Naykima notes that she’s “being filmed and… that there’s males up there that are able to see us.” Naykima’s experience is not an abberration; Michigan women’s prisons have been an environment rife with sexual abuse and intimidation for decades. Though the state paid a cumulative $100 million in settlements of cases involving harassment and abuse at the hands of male correctional officers and implemented, conditions have not improved. 

As would be expected, the pandemic has only worsened the threat WHV poses to incarcerated individuals’ health and safety. WHV is incredibly overcrowded, partly due to the fact that the incarceration of women is rising at alarming rates. The facility is built for 1100 but currently houses 2200 women on average—over capacity by 100%. One of the core tenants of COVID prevention—social distancing—is thus rendered impossible for those forced to live in WHV. 

Write to Ms. Naykima Hill on Jpay at #270530
Snail Mail:
Women’s Huron Valley Correctional 
3201 Bemis Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48197 

When We Fight, We Win!

Lily Chahine & Jennifer Szenay
Prison Radio Staff