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Remembering Timothy: MI Rally Calls for End to Segregation and Restraints

August 5, 2008

Lansing, MI – This week marks the two-year anniversary of the death of Timothy Souders, a young man with mental illness who died at Southern Michigan Correctional Center. Timothy's mother, Theresa Vaughn, will speak at a rally Wednesday at the Capitol.

Souders' death received international attention and provoked outrage when a videotape of his last days was aired on CBS' "60 Minutes" in 2007. Prison records and videos show that Timothy was not checked for a 17-hour stretch and died of dehydration during an August heat wave. The 21-year-old was in prison for shoplifting.

Vaughn says her family and others are still waiting for prison system reform. She contends that she and other prison watchdogs have documented that Michigan still chains prisoners to their beds, segregates them and restricts water - and so do prisons across the country. The sister of another prisoner who died of dehydration when denied water will speak at the rally with Vaughn. The women want segregation and use of restraints to end, Vaughn says.

"It's not an isolated incident. It's not an isolated guard. It's not just a few guards. It is a systematic problem. To me, it's mind-boggling that this goes on right here in our country, in our state, in our back yard."

A Michigan Corrections Department spokesperson has said restraints and segregation are monitored and are not used for long periods of time. Souder's death prompted Gov. Jennifer Granholm to commission a study of prison health care.

In June, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman approved a $3.25 million settlement in favor of Vaughn, ending a lawsuit she brought against 35 defendants, including state Corrections Department officials.

A teaching session Wednesday will focus on men and women placed in segregation and how many of them have mental illnesses exacerbated by such treatment. Vaughn will show video footage of her son's last days of life, chained to his bed in prison.

The teaching session will be held on Wednesday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m., Rm. 402-403, State Capitol. The rally will be at 3 p.m. on the Capitol steps.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MI