MDCR Statement on Court of Appeals Ruling Covering Prisoners Under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

Contact: Jacki Miller 313-456-4694
Agency: Civil Rights

March 28, 2018

Lansing - On March 27, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that an amendment to a state law passed in 1999 determining that prisoners were not covered by the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) was unconstitutional. The court’s majority opinion further found that the state is not immune from liability in lawsuits filed by prisoners alleging violations of their civil rights.

“We applaud not just the result, but also the straightforward reasoning of the Court. The court found that because the Michigan Constitution proclaims ‘No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws’ it is unconstitutional to deny that protection to persons in prison. The court’s point cannot be overstated, and it is at the heart of all we do; equal protection isn’t equal unless it applies to everyone,” stated Agustin Arbulu, Michigan Department of Civil Rights Executive Director. 


“Our investigative staff is available to assist those individuals who may wish to come forward with complaints, questions or concerns, based on this ruling. People may call us at 1-800-482-3604 or visit our website at,” said Arbulu.

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