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Michigan to have women guarding women



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LANSING, Mich., Aug 22, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Michigan is moving male corrections officers out of jobs that involve guarding the cells of female prisoners.

The Detroit News reports that Pat Caruso, director of the state Department of Corrections, said in an interview last week that she had decided to make the change now, instead of waiting for the resolution of a lawsuit. Both male and female guards sued the state, claiming that allowing only women to guard female inmates would limit career opportunities.

"To do this overnight would put the facilities in turmoil," she said. "We are implementing it in a way we think is least disruptive to the 50,000 prisoners and 18,000 employees."

The News said that the department is investigating at least four allegations this year that guards sexually abused female inmates, including one incident in which a camera was smuggled into a prison and used to photograph a prisoner in her underwear.

In the 1990s, the state was hit with a series of sexual abuse claims. Officials responded by promising to make changes, including becoming one of the few states to have only woman guards in living quarters for female prisoners.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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