CONTACT YOUR LEADERS

Tell your legislators, the Governor, and the Attorney General’s Office to end the torturous practice of long-term solitary confinement in Michigan:

Find Your Rep
Find Your Senator
Attorney General Dana Nessel
Governor Gretchen Whitmer

SAMPLE LANGUATE TO LEGISLATORS



Hello, my name is _______ , and I am extremely concerned about Michigan’s overuse of solitary confinement in the Department of Corrections (MDOC). I understand that Michigan has no limit on the length of time, that complaints of abuse and starvation are rampant, and that over 100 people have died in solitary confinement in the last five years in our state.


There is not a single study of involuntary prolonged confinement over 10 days that does not indicate psychological impairments and deep trauma caused by the isolation. Countries around the world have long considered solitary confinement cruel and unusual punishment. Even within the United States, Michigan’s overuse of solitary has begotten national attention.


I am also aware that at least 65% of the people in these units are Black. I find it incredibly disturbing that Black men are 7% of our state’s population but 65% of our segregation population. This sort of thing is not an accident, it is indicative of the inherent racism in these systems of punishment. Something has to change.


I understand that there are ongoing campaigns to introduce legislation and policy changes around Michigan’s egregious use of this torturous practice. As your constituent, I want to voice my strong support for this work. I hope I will see my interests represented as you engage with these campaigns and legislation.


(Sign off)




SAMPLE LANGUAGE TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL



Dear Attorney General Dana Nessel,


I am writing today with grave concerns about the state of the solitary confinement/ segregation units in Michigan prisons. I have read letters which describe egregious human rights abuses, and I am concerned that the “checks and balances” in government that your office is meant to provide are simply not happening. Why is the Attorney General’s office not addressing, for instance, the death of Jonathan Lancaster, who died of dehydration and was ignored in a segregation cell despite his worsening physical and mental health? How many more people have to die before the Michigan Department of Corrections is forced to change?


I am also aware that at least 65% of the people in these units are Black. I find it incredibly disturbing that Black men are 7% of our state’s population but 65% of our segregation population. This sort of thing is not an accident, it is indicative of the inherent racism in these systems of punishment. Something has to change.


I believe it is your duty as an elected official of this state to offer protection from abuse to every individual, regardless of incarceration status, and that you are failing this population by not taking a stand. We need all hands on deck if we are going to save the lives of individuals who are held in conditions that are considered torturous by the Geneva Convention and the Mandela Rules.


(Sign off)




SAMPLE LANGUATE TO GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER



Dear Governor Whitmer,


I have watched a number of criminal justice reform bills signed into law during your time as Governor, and for that I am grateful. I believe it’s high time that Michigan be brought into contemporary times when it comes to our justice and punishment systems. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Michigan’s egregious use of solitary confinement.


Michigan is an extreme outlier in the use of solitary confinement. I know that each year over 3,000 people are housed in some form of solitary-- that is locked in over 20 hours per day-- in prisons throughout the state. Michigan also has no limit on length of time in solitary confinement. I would like to know how locking someone in a 6x9 cell for 40 years does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.


I am also aware that at least 65% of the people in these units are Black. I find it incredibly disturbing that Black men are 7% of our state’s population but 65% of our segregation population. This sort of thing is not an accident, it is indicative of the inherent racism in these systems of punishment. Something has to change.


As the Governor of this state, it is your duty to uphold protections against human rights abuses for everyone in your state, regardless of incarceration status. The violence inherent in these solitary confinement conditions only compounds the problems which lead to incarceration in the first place, including mental health conditions and complex trauma.


It’s time this state becomes a real leader, and we cannot do that unless we address this massive problem of human rights abuses in solitary confinement.


(sign-off)