Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Hygienic Conditions in Michigan Jail

A federal class-action lawsuit was filed on the behalf of seven people imprisoned at a jail in southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The lawsuit says that the seven inmates at Wayne County Jail have medical conditions that require their release from unsanitary conditions in the prison that put them at risk for contracting Covid-19.

The lawsuit alleges that inmates have limited access to soap and personal protective gear; that numerous sinks and showers do not work; and that the jail’s screening measures for new inmates do not provide for sufficient quarantine period.

“The very steps required for all of those living outside of a jail — regular handwashing, adequately cleaning their surroundings, access to testing, prompt medical attention, and wearing protective gear — have been made impossible for those confined in the Jail by the very officials responsible for their well-being,” the lawsuit claims.

The outbreak has already affected the jail. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office told the Free Press that 30 inmates have tested positive for Covid-19.

Several hundred prisoners have been released from Wayne County Jail to reduce crowding. They were released based on their risk to public safety, not on their medical condition. The jail usually held about 1,400 people before the pandemic, but it is now down to 830 inmates, according to the sheriff’s office.

Jails are becoming hot spots for Covid-19. According to data collected by the Marshall Project, as of April 29 there were at least 1,412 confirmed cases of the disease among prisoners in Michigan.

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