Citizens for Prison Reform’s Beginning:
Our organization is a grassroots effort that is statewide and family-run. It began as a letter writing campaign to our Legislature and Governor in 2008 after the mother of an incarcerated youth saw the conditions of not only the mentally ill and the juveniles within, but the lack of meaningful programming and rehabilitation for all prisoners.
Lois DeMott began networking and meeting many prisoner families across Michigan. Her son, Kevin encouraged her to advocate for others in worse conditions than his own, and to connect with other prison reform groups. She reached out to AFSC (American Friends Service Committee- for direct prisoner advocacy) and others to learn how to best advocate.
Another letter writing campaign in 2009 brought more awareness around the conditions of those in solitary confinement and again the general lack of programming, rehabilitation and family inclusion. A one time meeting was planned to bring those involved together for a face to face meeting in May of 2011. Families requested the monthly meetings be continued. Jeff Gerritt wrote the below article and published the photos that Lois DeMott retrieved through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) of her son held in restraints in solitary confinement. The fact is, this is the story of many, not just one.
We thank Mr. Gerritt for his diligence in telling the truths from inside the walls. We have held numerous events since 2009. We are grateful to Cooley Law School for their assistance in obtaining our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2012, which will allow us to accept donations and seek funding to move our work forward.
Mentally Ill get Punishment Instead of Treatment
Kevin was mentally ill with bipolar disorder. Corrections officers at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility chained Kevin to his bed and secured a padded helmet to his head after he refused to stop banging his head against the wall. / Michigan Department of Corrections
Click here for the full article and photos.