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17 Yale J.L. & Feminism 309 (2005)
Conflicting Feminisms and the Rights of Women Prisoners

handle is hein.journals/yjfem17 and id is 315 raw text is: Case Comment

Conflicting Feminisms and the Rights of Women
Ashlie E. Caset
Everson v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 391 F.3d 737 (6th Cir. 2004).
Following two lawsuitsf and confronted with a wealth of information
alleging rampant sexual abuse of female inmates in its facilities,2 the Michigan
t J.D. expected 2006, Yale Law School; B.A., University of Akron, 2002. 1 would like to thank
Professor Kenji Yoshino for his advice and comments and Professor Brett Dignam for her dedication
and courage.
1. U. S. v. Michigan, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16024 (E.D. Mich. 1994), was brought after a United
States Department of Justice investigation of an alleged pattern of sexual abuse of female inmates and
other misconduct by male guards, in violation of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42
U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. (2000). The settlement required the Michigan Department of Corrections
(MDOC) to minimize access to secluded areas and one-on-one contact between male staff and inmates,
implement a knock and announce policy in which male officers announce their presence prior to
entering areas where inmates undress, restrict cross-gender pat-downs, and study feasibility of
increasing the presence of female officers in the housing units. Four years later, Nunn v. Mich. Dep 't of
Corr., 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15639 (E.D. Mich. 1998), was brought by female inmates alleging sexual
misconduct, sexual harassment, violation of privacy rights, and retaliation by corrections officers. The
plaintiffs settled for $4 million in damages and an injunction obligating the MDCO to restrict cross-
gender pat-downs by male staff, require males to announce their presence upon entering housing units,
maintain certain areas where inmates shower, dress, and use the bathroom free of male staff observation,
and make a good faith effort to limit officers in housing units to women. Settlement Agreement
Regarding Injunctive and Declaratory Relief, Nunn v. Mich. Dep't of Corr. (No. 96-CV-71416).
2. A 1993 study by the Michigan Women's Commission advised the Department of Corrections
that sexual assault and harassment are not isolated incidents and that fear of reporting such incidents is
a significant problem. Everson v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 391 F.3d 737, 741 (6th Cir. 2004). Three years
later, Human Rights Watch reported that rape, sexual assault or abuse, criminal sexual contact, and
other misconduct by corrections staff are continuing and serious problems within the women's prisons in
Michigan [and] have been tolerated over the years at both the institutional and departmental levels.
SEXUAL    ABUSE    OF    WOMEN     IN   U.S.   STATE   PRISONS    (1996)   available  at
htll)://iiw.orgrcports/1996/Usl.htm. [hereinafter HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, ALL TOO FAMILIAR]
Between 1997 and 1998, Michigan personnel accounted for ten out of twenty convictions of male staff
nationwide for criminal sexual conduct against women prisoners. In 1998, Human Rights Watch issued
a second report about retaliation against female inmates who made public accusations of abuse. HUMAN

Copyright Q 2005 by the Yale Joumal of Law and Feminism

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