The problems with the health care delivered by the Michigan Department of Corrections and the private company Correctional Medical Services range from the seemingly mundane, such as randomly changing a prisoner’s special accommodations, to the severe, such as failure to treat potentially fatal illnesses like Hepatitis C or Lupus. Shortcomings and failures in the system are both systemic and chronic – prisoners experience delays in getting treated, grievances fail to resolve problems, diagnoses are withheld, treatment is withheld or delayed until it is no longer helpful, and access to medical records is very restricted. Based on the experiences prisoners and their family members have recounted, treatment standards are far below the community standard of care, and at times, amount to inhumane and cruel treatment. The experiences of prisoners, their family members, and loved ones, as members of our community, do matter and must be revealed and addressed with fairness and respect. This report is an attempt to add the perspective of prisoners, loved ones of prisoners, prisoner advocates, and other concerned citizens to the ongoing discussion concerning health care in Michigan’s prisons.
This report has been researched and created by advocates who have spent over twenty years attempting to protect and promote the rights of prisoners. The report itself is in response to the thousands of letters our agencies receive from prisoners describing their unmet medical and mental health care needs, including stories of how CMS and the MDOC have failed to provide even the most basic health care. This report is also in response to the numerous telephone calls we have received from friends and family of prisoners, lobbying on behalf of their incarcerated loved ones to anyone who will listen.