State News

Ex-Warden's Lawsuit Trial Will Show an Underside of Michigan's Prison System

April 22, 2019, 8:49 AM

Embarrassing management lapses in Michigan's prison system will surface in testimony supporting an ex-warden's lawsuit against the Department of Corrections. 

"Dirty laundry is expected to be aired in a lawsuit set to go to trial in Lansing on Monday," writes Paul Egan of the Detreoit Free Press.

The case in Ingham County Circuit Court features testimony about . . . drinking and driving by prison managers, alleged cronyism involving former department director Dan Heyns, who surrounded himself with a group of managers from his hometown known as "the Jackson Five," and top-level interference in investigations conducted by the department's internal affairs section.

Plaintiff Jeff Larson, a department veteran who had the top job at Central Michigan Correctional Facility in Gratiot County, "says he was demoted to a unit manager's position in Ionia — which paid $38,000 a year less — because he advocated for the promotion of a female subordinate, Larriann Ludwick, who faced discrimination from his supervisor, whom he considered sexist." the paper reports.

Corrections officers are sworn in at the training academy. (Photo: Michigan Department of Corrections)

That supervisor, assistant deputy director Michael Curley, retired a few years ago. Egan cites these career rough spots:

  • In 2016, Curley received a four-day suspension after using a vulgar term to say he planned to hire the applicant for a secretary's job who had large breasts.
  • The state paid $190,000 in 2017 to settle a sexual discrimination suit by Ludwick, whom Curley refused to promote. She says in the suit that Curley rubbed a golf club along the inside of her thigh at a department event.
  • When Curley was warden earlier at Muskegon Correctional Facility, a management subordinate lodged a complaint over a derogatory remark she said she heard him make about another female employee. The first woman won a $224,000 lawsuit verdict that was upheld on appeal in 2014.

Larson, whose suit says he was unjustly demoted four levels, retired in 2017 after working in state prisons for more than a quarter-century. 

Egan's 1,500-word trial preview follows up on an investigative report last April by him that described how "female officers face widespread sexual harassment in Michigan's prison system," as its was headlined.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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Potd_img_6223_257 Beautiful entrance to Spirit of Hope Church on Trumbull and Grand River avenues.

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