Officials say they don't know the cause though prisoners blame black mold on leaky roofs
A painful and itchy rash continues to spread through Michigan's women's prison, and officials said Tuesday they still don't know what is causing the rash or how best to treat it.
Free press first reported the problem in March, when officials said there were close to 50 cases confined to one of the Ypsilanti area prisons 15 units.
Now , there are nearly 200 cases of the itchy rash, which features little red bumps on inner thighs, buttocks, arms, backs and chest in eight of the units Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz said.
Prisoners blame conditions such as leaky roofs and inadequate ventilation they say have resulted in excess mildew and black mold.
Prison officials ,who insist the rash is not contagious , deny there is a mold problem and say they suspect the rash is the fault of the inmates.
But Gautz admitted prison officials have little more than theories, despite a problem that has persisted for more than a year.
Officials believe the rash is the result of improper mixing of prison issued cleaning fluids by inmates porters who are charged with cleaning the prison, along with an inmate practice of using homemade laundry detergent to hand wash their brassieres and underwear, rather than sending them to the prison laundry, Gautz told The Free Press.
That's ridiculous, said U.M professor Carol Jacobson , who works with the inmates and parolees at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility as director of the Michigan Women's Justice Clemency Project.
It is obscene to blame the women for the Horrible rash that has now spread throughout the women's prison Jacobsen said , It is the fault of the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Jacobsen said she and others have complained for years that the prison was unsafe , toxic and filthy with feces on the walls and urine in the vents when the department removed men from the facility in 2009. She said female inmates have begged for proper cleaning materials, but been refused and unhealthy black mold has spread throughout the prison.
I am not surprised the Michigan Department of Corrections is blaming the inmates only because they will never except the responsibility of the major health problem. The people in the state of Michigan must step up....