JOINT PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 13, 2017
For more than a year, the Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO) and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) have been partnering on an important endeavor called the Officer Dignity Initiative.
This work is now being made clear to the inmate population as beginning this month, signs will be posted in prison housing units across the state informing them of the serious penalties that await anyone attempting or threatening to inflict injury by throwing food, feces or bodily fluids on prison staff. Such action is a 5-year felony and any prisoner engaging in this type of behavior will be referred to the Michigan State Police for prosecution. See the sign here.
The Officer Dignity Initiative focuses on prevention and response to what corrections officers call being “dressed out,” which means an inmate has thrown urine, blood, feces, spit, or another unknown substance onto an employee. It also addresses inmate sexual exposures to an employee for personal or sexual gratification.
“Being ‘dressed out’ is not something that should ever be considered a part of the job. It is a crime and one that robs our employees of their dignity,” MDOC Deputy Director Ken McKee said. “Our staff members need to know that when they are assaulted, we will do everything possible to ensure the case is handled correctly so that it can be turned over to MSP with the goal of seeing a prosecution.”
The MDOC and MCO worked on this initiative alongside the Michigan State Police and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. Last fall, all of the parties came together for an inspectors’ training session that included tips on crime scene processing, evidence handling, writing, and compiling documentation, along with other pieces needed for successful prosecution.
Last month, MCO released a video outlining the initiative that included comments from MCO and MDOC leadership and staff.
“The Officer Dignity Video captures all the great work MCO and the coalition did to shed light on the hidden realities and difficulties of corrections work,” said Andy Potter, MCO Vice President and Chief of Staff. “In addition to giving a voice to staff members who have experienced these assaults first-hand, it reminds all employees that someone has their back and what happens to them inside the walls matters.”
Michigan Corrections Organization/SEIU represents more than 6,500 corrections officers working at state prisons and forensic security assistants at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry.