Sharee Miller, a prisoner at Huron Valley Women’s Prison, was fired from her job at the prison for seeking help for mentally ill women prisoners who were being abused and neglected by the guards. Ms. Miller’s job at the prison was to keep watch over prisoners who were at risk of suicide or self-harm. On multiple occasions she saw guards abuse mentally ill women by leaving them hogtied and naked for hours, depriving them of water, and refusing to advise medical authorities even when a prisoner was foaming at the mouth. Ms. Miller’s internal complaints within the prison were ignored, so she ultimately alerted outside organizations such as the Department of Justice and advocacy groups. When she did so, she was punished for violating “confidentiality” rules.
In 2015 the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit to prevent the prison from punishing prisoners who report abuse and neglect. In March 2019 Judge Sean Cox denied the state’s motion for summary judgment and scheduled the case for trial. The Michigan Department of Corrections then agreed to settle the case by changing its policy to allow prisoners to report mistreatment to an outside government oversight agency or state-designated protection and advocacy organization. Ms. Miller was also reinstated to her position, compensated for her lost wages, and had her record cleared of having been terminated for violating prison rules.
(Miller v. Stewart; ACLU Attorney Dan Korobkin; Cooperating Attorneys Daniel Quick, Jerome Crawford, Chelsea Smialek, Kathleen Cieslik, Emily Burdick, Lina Irvine, and Alma Sobo of Dickinson Wright.)