One group of people who had no choice but to drink and shower in the contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, were the hundreds of inmates held inside the Genesee County Jail (video below).
The jail switched to bottled water for five days in October 2015, but then switched back to the city's contaminated water. Inmates were forced to drink, bathe in and eat food that was cooked in the polluted water.
Former Genesee County Jail inmate Jody Cramer, who worked inside the prison until recently, and his mother, Linda Garland-Molpus, told Democracy Now! that prison guards told them the water was safe when it was not. Cramer also recalled that the guards only drank bottled water.
Cramer had another shocking disclosure:
There is pregnant women inside the Genesee County Jail, several pregnant women inside Genesee County Jail. I know this because there’s diet trays that are distributed. They’re allowed so much, or they get a double portion because they’re pregnant or something.
So you see, when you make their tray, you have a list of how many people, and there’s a lot of pregnant women in the Genesee County Jail. As far as I know, they get the same amount of water as anybody else.
Cramer said that Flint police turned the water crisis into an opportunity to arrest people:
A lot of the deputies were passing out water filtration systems in the city. If you had warrants, they did a warrant sweep while they did that, so they tricked you. If you answered your door, and they would say, "Hey, how are you doing, Mr. Cramer?"
If I responded, then I just confirmed that I’m me. "Well, here’s your water filtration system. By the way, you have a warrant for your arrest." People were saying that’s how they got arrested.
The jail switched back to bottled water in late January, but inmates are limited to 48 ounces a day, according to Cramer.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan said on Feb. 5 that local and state officials should be trying to fix the water contamination problem instead of blaming people, reports Reuters.
Progress Michigan, an advocacy organization, recently released internal emails revealing that some state officials were aware of an increase in Legionnaires' disease in Flint and that it could be linked to contaminated water about a year before Gov. Snyder said he learned about the rising numbers of Legionnaires' cases.