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March 01, 2005

Titmo on the Boardman

A couple of weeks ago, the local newspaper published a story about a young woman who spent several months in the county jail and who is now joining others to express concerns over the conditions in the jail. Her experience consisted of not getting her pain medication (for a broken back and sternum in a car accident a few years ago), headaches caused by black mold, and bedbug bites.

Other former inmates complained about mismanaged medications (lost, wrong dosage, wrong time, or overmedication … resulting in death in one case), and not getting medical attention when needed.

About ten years ago, I heard there were similar complaints, as well as instances where women in the jail were not given sufficient sanitary necessities, and were not able to obtain even a Midol.

The sheriff stated that all of these complaints are untrue. Simply stated, "I had the whole jail looked at. We just had another 100 percent compliance, and they would not give you that if you had mold in the jail. As far as infestation, there is nothing like that at all," he said. The jail is inspected by the Michigan Department of Corrections which is somewhat like the fox inspecting the chicken coop.

Following the article there have been two letters to the editor scoffing at the bringers of the complaints. One writer, a woman, was "disgusted," at the story (not the conditions), feeling that women who make lousy choices should not expect The Ritz. She wondered if the paper was "joking."

The women in the county jail are there probably for failure to pay child support, bad checks, shoplifting, driving under the influence. Certainly the law is the law, and these women are paying the penalty, having lost their freedom, contact with their families and children. But the punishment did not include, when levied, pain from not getting medication for four to five hours. No one should have to be exposed to mold (mold is not a housekeeping issue as much as it is a health problem), or a bug infestation in mattresses.

Maybe if the sheriff is so confident these complaints are without merit, he wouldn't mind an independent panel of women dropping in from time to time to make sure the female inmates have nothing to complain about.

Posted by Gadflygirl at March 1, 2005 08:21 PM


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