Apr 20, 2020
Inmates at the Wayne County Jail in Hamtramck, a suburb surrounded by Detroit, managed to release two videos on the internet in which they complained of dangerous conditions there. They said prisoners weren’t being properly tested for COVID-19, had not received masks and had to use their own clothing and towels for protection. The videos were released April 9th and 10th.
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office attempted to whitewash the problem, releasing a statement on April 11 assuring the public that everything was under control.
Yet on April 7, Charlie LeDuff, a well-known local investigative reporter published the story of Michael Meshinski, a Wayne Count inmate who had been released while being severely ill. One deputy was quoted saying Meshinski “was shitting himself. He was doubled over. He had a fever. I mean he was really, really sick.” He wasn’t taken to a hospital, but instead was given his street clothes and a bus pass.
Meshinski got on the wrong bus, likely exposing other people, and eventually had to call a cab to get home. Four days later, his girlfriend found him dead, bleeding from his eyes.
His girlfriend, Sherrill Williams, said, “He called me on the phone from inside and told me he was so sick he was scared. I told him to go to the common area and start coughing on everybody. Then they’ll notice you. And that’s what he did.” That’s what it took for an inmate to get any attention at all, yet he apparently wasn’t tested and received no medical treatment.
Meshinski was a Dearborn Truck plant worker serving a six-month sentence for drunk driving. He was on work release, possibly exposing others on a daily basis while being housed at a facility where now at least 167 employees have tested positive for the virus. No one knows how many inmates—most still haven’t been tested.
As LeDuff rightly pointed out, Meshinski, an autoworker with a chronic drinking problem, wound up serving what amounted to a death sentence.