Women’s prisons in Michigan are being accused of mistreating mentally ill inmates by forcing them to go days without food and water, as well as subjecting prisoners to cruel and unusual punishment, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Several witness accounts indicate that prisoners are being placed in solitary confinement and refused water. One inmate initially reported this abuse after being treated at a local hospital for symptoms of severe dehydration.

A letter obtained from the ACLU details another account where a prisoner was “crying naked on the floor and unable to move-because her feet were cuffed to her hands behind her back,” which was apparently done to teach this mentally disabled inmate to “behave.”

"According to reports we have received from multiple individuals who have witnessed these events first-hand, mentally ill inmates at Huron Valley are being treated so inhumanely that we believe many corrections experts would characterize their experience as a form of torture,” states the letter. “Witnesses have reported seeing mentally ill prisoners denied water and food, ‘hog tied’ naked for many hours, left to stand, sit, or lie naked in their own feces and urine, denied showers for days, and tasered.”

Interestingly, the Michigan criminal justice system often punishes mentally ill offenders by sentencing them to lengthy prison terms. However, these people are rarely able to function as model inmates because of their disabilities, which often leads to traumatic treatment that has been referred to as “living death.” A federal judge once said this concept was the “mental equivalent of putting an asthmatic in a place with little air to breathe.”

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