MSU Law students in Civil Rights Clinic help protect Flint-area jail inmates from lead-contaminated water

Genesee County Sheriff Robert J. Pickell and the law students of the Civil Rights Clinic at Michigan State University College of Law, representing the inmates at the Genesee County Jail who filed a federal lawsuit against the Sheriff related to Flint's water emergency, have announced a settlement of the case.

Sheriff Pickell and Professor Daniel Manville, Director of the Civil Rights Clinic, said the two sides have signed a Consent Decree that will protect inmates from lead contaminated water.

The consent decree stipulates that the Sheriff and his staff at the jail will continue to provide bottled water for consumption and for food preparation.

City of Flint water will not be used for either purpose until comprehensive testing at the jail determines that the water supply there is in conformance with government standards.

The decree defines the government standard as lead contaminant levels less than 15 parts per billion.

According to the terms of the decree, the jail water supply shall be tested within 14 days of the effective date of the decree at no less than five locations within the jail, including at least three locations that are inhabited by inmates, in order to establish baseline data.

After the initial test results and baseline data are established, the Sheriff agrees to continue to test the water supply every 14 days for an eight week period.

If at any time the testing of the water tests positive for lead contamination beyond accepted levels, the Sheriff shall take steps to clear the contamination and the water will be retested every ten days until the contamination is reduced below the 15 parts per billion standard.

The consent decree states that the Sheriff may once again begin using city tap water if test results are satisfactory at all test locations over an eight consecutive week time period.

Following this eight week period, the Sheriff will continue to test the water once a month for the next ten months until notified by the Genesee County Health Department or the State of Michigan that the water is safe for consumption.

"We have been providing bottled water since late January of 2016," said Sheriff Pickell. "However, this agreement is in the best interests of the inmates, the public, and the jail staff and will cease further unnecessary litigation," he said.

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Reprinted with permission from MSU Law

Published: Thu, Jul 07, 2016

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