$100 million settlement to sexually abused prisoners won't be delayed

Nov 11, 2011

The Michigan Supreme Court will not intervene in the fight over a settlement awarded to female prisoners. 

More than 800 women inmates said they were repeatedly raped and abused while in prison.

In 1996, they brought a class action suit against the Michigan Department of Corrections.

In 2009, they were awarded a $100 million settlement.

But Oakland County wanted to know the names of the inmates so it could divert some of the money to crime victims.

Ann Arbor attorney Deborah LaBelle represented the inmates. She says only 13 of the women in the case still owe restitution.

"Why target those women, as opposed to all of the prisoners who owe restitution, that may have jobs or other sources of funds," LaBelle says. "Go collect the money against everyone."

LaBelle says the women deserve to have their privacy protected and should not be named.

A number of human rights reports in the 1990s corroborated the women's accounts of abuse, and said prison officials did little or nothing about it.

The Department of Corrections has since instituted a number of changes to prevent sexual abuse by guards.