Last updated: 6 months ago
In November 2015, a twenty-five-year-old black woman, Janika Nichole Edmond died in the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Michigan’s only women’s prison. Holly Kramer, a communications representative for the prison said Edmond was taken to the hospital on Nov. 2 and pronounced dead at 2:12 a.m. Nov. 11 at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Conversely, a death certificate with a pending cause of death shows Edmond died on Nov. 6, according to the Washtenaw County Vital Records Office. The discrepancy is so far unclear.
An attorney for Edmond's family said inmates told the family she was taken to the hospital after hanging herself in a shower area. David S. Steingold, the Edmond family's Detroit-based lawyer, said he is investigating the matter and also waiting for an autopsy report in the case as the family seeks answers about Edmond's death.
According to a report by Women In and Beyond the Global, (WIBG) Janika Edmond’s story is "short and familiar": Janika Edmond lived with mental illness. Once in Michigan’s `criminal justice’ system, her condition deteriorated. She had a history of assaulting prison guards, which resulted in her being sent to solitary, which resulted in her becoming more aggressive. In 2014, Janika Edmond made a rope out of a towel and tried to hang herself. Earlier in 2015, Janika Edmond was found with a razor. She said, repeatedly, that she was “tired of being here” and was hearing voices. The day she died, Janika Edmonds asked for a suicide prevention vest which was not provided. Hours later, she lay dead on the floor. “The death report provided by the MDOC [Michigan Department of Corrections] for Edmond shows her presumed cause of death was suicide.”
Two prison officers have been suspended or fired, according to reports.
Acoording to WIBG, abusive conditions at the Huron Valley facility are well-documented. Two years prior to Edmond's death, Huron Valley was investigated for alleged human rights abuses against mentally ill female inmates. When Janika Edmonds died, the State was still “investigating” the July 16 death of Kayla Renea Miller, in Huron Valley.
In 2012, Carol Jacobsen, founder and Director of the Michigan Women’s Justice and Clemency Project, noted, “Abu Ghraib has nothing on Huron Valley.” She was describing the irony that Huron Valley was meant to solve the crisis of abuse of women prisoners in the Robert Scott Correctional Facility. As a result of widespread torture and abuse, Scott was closed in 2009, and all the women were moved to Huron Valley, which, according to Carol Jacobsen, is worse than Scott.
July 2016 Michigan State Police investigation sheds new light on case
January 2017 The court process for a former Michigan Department of Corrections officer charged in connection with the suicide death of an inmate is delayed for several months as lawyers make their way through a hefty amount of discovery in the case.