Muskegon county jail

Muskegon county jail DEFAULT

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Five people, including four corrections officers, charged in the death of a jail inmate appeared in court Wednesday during proceedings that were punctuated by hostilities between defense and prosecuting attorneys.

The defendants, who also include a nurse, are accused of failing to assist Muskegon County Jail inmate Paul Bulthouse, whose April 4, 2019, death was determined to be the result of multiple seizures. He had been in an area of the jail where inmates can be monitored via video and through their cell doors.

The five defendants, all charged with involuntary manslaughter, and their attorneys crowded into the courtroom of Muskegon County District Judge Geoffrey Nolan on Sept. 22 for the first of two scheduled days of preliminary examination.

They will return Friday, Sept. 24, for the second day of preliminary examination, after which Nolan will decide whether there is enough evidence to send the defendants to trial.

An investigation report determined, using jail surveillance video, that Bulthouse suffered at least 15 seizures in the hours prior to his death. Those seizures were captured by a video camera in his cell.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, compiled cell videos and video of the jail’s “control center” from which deputies are to monitor inmates. The side-by-side videos are expected to be a central part of the attorney general’s case, and their admission as evidence was fought by the defense attorneys.

They said the eight hours of video could have been altered, along with the time stamps placed on them by a forensic video specialist from the Detroit Police Department. Nolan allowed admission of the video as evidence following a lunch break during which Muskegon County Undersheriff Ken Sanford reviewed the compiled videos on fast forward and later testified they had not been altered.

Defense attorneys repeatedly objected to the process of introducing evidence by Assistant Attorney General Melissa Palepu, and complained they hadn’t seen it though Palepu insisted she had turned it over during discovery. At one point, attorney Michelle McLean, representing Greve, complained “this is so disingenuous.”

Both sides had similarly argued in July when Nolan agreed to adjourn the preliminary exam so a witness could testify in person rather than via Zoom.

The office of Muskegon County Sheriff Michael Poulin conducted an investigation into Bulthouse’s death and closed it May 22, 2019, after determining Bulthouse died of natural causes. Poulin reopened the investigation a few weeks later after reports that a deputy may have witnessed part of a seizure and did nothing. The Michigan Sheriff’s Association was involved in that investigation.

A medical examiner’s report indicated Bulthouse’s seizures were caused by alcohol withdrawal and possibly a failure by medical staff to administer him medication.

Bulthouse, 39, of Spring Lake was jailed on a probation violation on March 22, 2019.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said earlier that Bulthouse was on suicide watch and was to be checked every 15 minutes. However, Poulin indicated he was to be checked every half hour due to alcohol withdrawal.

By March 27, 2019, a week before his death, monitoring indicated Bulthouse was showing “minimal or no” symptoms of withdrawal, according to testimony Wednesday by David Lopez, a contracted medical services supervisor at the jail.

A timeline in the sheriff’s investigative report indicated Bulthouse had four seizures during an hour he was unchecked. The timeline indicates he also was not checked for 52 minutes, between 5:21 a.m. and 6:13 a.m., during the period that the medical examiner believes he died, which was 5:33 a.m.

Lopez read from a progress note written by Schotts, the nurse who has been criminally charged, at 6:15 a.m. that day. In it, she wrote that Greve asked her to check on Bulthouse and that Schotts discovered Bulthouse was dead in his cell, his skin was cold and rigor mortis had set in.

Bulthouse originally pleaded to possession of child pornography on Oct. 10, 2018, and later violated the terms of his probation.

He was charged with two counts of assaulting officers on April 1, 2019, following an alleged escape attempt. Lopez read in court a medical report from that incident in which it was noted that Bulthouse, wearing a suicide gown, had pushed a deputy out of the way when they opened his cell door and ran down a hallway.

Two deputies took him to the ground, and Bulthouse was nonverbal, breathing rapidly and began to shake, Lopez read from the report.

On March 29, six days before his death, Bulthouse had complained of numbness in his arms and had high blood pressure and had wanted an ambulance though one wasn’t called, Lopez said.

The witness also read from a note regarding Bulthouse being discharged by his primary care physician because of “multiple lying episodes,” diversion of drugs and other issues.

A medical review of Bulthouse conducted on March 25,2019, had determined he was “alert,” “neat and clean” and had appropriate affect, Lopez said.

Bulthouse had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and mood disorders, but had no history of use of psychotropic medication or outpatient mental health treatment, Lopez said.

He had suffered a “trauma” in 2004 and had a history of psychiatric hospitalization, Lopez said.

Read more:

Jail inmate’s cause of death released by Muskegon County Sheriff

Muskegon County sheriff reopens investigation into inmate’s death

Family alleges coverup in inmate’s death at Muskegon County Jail


Award-winning facility marks one year in service

The end of September marks the one-year anniversary of operations for the Muskegon County Adult Jail Complex in downtown Muskegon.

Completed by Granger Construction in 2015, the three-story, 89,000 square-foot jail replaced an outdated 50-year-old-structure. In doing so, the facility remedied a decades old overcrowding issue and significantly increased safety, security and operational efficiency.

The project received the 2015 Build Michigan Award from the Associated General Contractors of Michigan for its high level of complexity, innovative construction techniques and overall excellence in construction management.

According to Muskegon Jail Administrator, Lt. Mark Burns, additional prisoner space is by far the jail’s biggest amenity. Burns said the average daily population at the old jail often exceeded its designed capacity of 370 inmates.

“Today, we’re averaging 500 inmates in a facility that has the capacity to hold 585,” Burns said. “We have definitely solved the persistent jail overcrowding issue that has plagued the county for many years.”

Because the new jail was designed and built with efficiency in mind, the larger facility is being operated with the same number of staff as the previous facility. This is possible for many reasons, including a pod-shaped design that allows staff to view inmates from a central command station.

The new facility also utilizes industry-leading technology such as video visitation and arraignment systems. Video visitation allows family and professionals to visit with inmates without having to enter secure areas of the facility. Similarly, video arraignment allows inmates to be present during arraignment and proceedings via video feed without leaving the facility. These systems not only contribute to a safer environment for inmates, visitors and corrections personnel but they also increase operational efficiency since fewer staff are needed to manage inmate movement.

See Muskegon County Jail’s 1.5-year construction in 1.5 minutes.

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Muskegon County Jail Inmate Archive Search

Muskegon County Jail Inmates

As of 2021/10/14 17:52:13

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Muskegon Co. settles inmate death lawsuit

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Disturbing video showing a jail inmate’s last hours of life, during which he suffered 18 seizures, was played during a court hearing Friday for five jail workers accused in his death.

Video from Paul Bulthouse’s Muskegon County Jail cell showed the 39-year-old repeatedly convulsing roughly 15 minutes apart. A forensic pathologist testified Bulthouse never regained consciousness between the seizures, which were the cause of his death.

Three Muskegon County Sheriff deputies, a sergeant and a jail nurse are facing charges of involuntary manslaughter – failure to perform a legal duty in Bulthouse’s death. A second day of preliminary examination was held Sept. 24 to determine if there’s enough evidence to send the defendants to trial.

Bulthouse, of Spring Lake, died in April 2019 while being held in an observation cell on a parole violation. Bulthouse had been considered a suicide risk and jail policy that was read in court by witness Undersheriff Ken Sanford is that those who are a suicide risk are to be checked on every 15 minutes.

Dr. Carl Schmidt, a forensic pathologist and the chief medical examiner for Wayne and Monroe counties, testified that Bulthouse would not have died if anyone had intervened during the 4 1/2 hours he was suffering seizures.

Therefore, Schmidt said he would have classified Bulthouse’s death as homicide, not natural causes as the medical examiner who conducted his autopsy concluded.

“There were multiple seizures,” Schmidt said. “If he had been treated, he’d be alive today.”

The death certificate listed his cause of his death as status epilepticus, which can be one long seizure or multiple seizures, Schmidt said.

Related: Five jail workers accused in inmate’s death appear in court to determine if charges will stick

The five defendants and their five attorneys crowded into the courtroom of Muskegon County District Judge Geoffrey Nolan for the continuation of the preliminary exam that began Wednesday, Sept. 22.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office is trying the case against deputies Jeffrey Patterson, Crystal Greve and Jamal Lane; Sgt. David Vanderlaan; and registered nurse Aubrey Schotts, who worked for WellPath, the jail’s medical provider, at the time of Bulthouse’s death.

If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.

Video played in court showed Bulthouse having 18 seizures over 4 ½ hours starting around 1 a.m. the day he died. The video showed Bulthouse lying naked on his back in his cell as he convulsed, and Schmidt testified he remained unconscious between the seizures.

The first five seizures were about a half hour apart, but the other 13 were separated by 15 or fewer minutes.

His third seizure, around 1:29 a.m., occurred in a different, holding cell where he appeared to be slumped over from a sitting position. Simultaneous video of the cell Bulthouse had been in showed a custodian mopping the floor, and Assistant Attorney General Melissa Palepu indicated they were cleaning up urine.

Schotts had checked on Bulthouse at 1:30 a.m., around the time of that third seizure, and in her progress notes said he had been lying on his stomach and his vital signs were stable, David Lopez, a contracted medical services supervisor at the jail, testified on Wednesday.

Schmidt noted that “someone shined a light in his eyes” and examined Bulthouse in the holding cell and was aware “something was going on.”

Bulthouse’s seizures resumed 40 minutes later, the video showed. His final seizure was at 5:30 a.m. and appeared to be one of the more violent ones. It ended abruptly.

“He had a last seizure and then his respiration becomes slow -- at first periodic and then stops,” Schmidt said.

About 45 minutes later, at 6:15 a.m., Greve, one of the deputies being charged, notified medical staff they should check on Bulthouse because she didn’t think he was breathing, Lopez testified. At that point, it was determined he didn’t have a pulse, his skin was cold and that rigor mortis had set in, he said.

One of the many jail policies that Sanford read aloud in court noted that jail staff should begin life-saving measures on inmates and not wait for medical staff.

Bulthouse was in one of several observation cells that surround a booking station where deputies have computer monitors, at least one of which Sanford said can be used to view surveillance video of the cells.

Video from Bulthouse’s cell was shown next to simultaneous video of the booking station. While Bulthouse was having seizures, the video shows various people walking around the area and sitting at the booking station feet away from his cell.

A press release issued by Sheriff Michael Poulin after Bulthouse’s death said he was in a cell designed to allow staff “the ability of continuous monitoring.”

Under questioning by defense attorneys, Schmidt said he couldn’t pinpoint a reason for Bulthouse’s seizures, explaining there can be many causes. However, he refuted their suggestions that they were the result of withdrawal from alcohol or the benzodiazepine.

Bulthouse was jailed on a probation violation on March 22, 2019. By the time he died on April 4, 2019, he would have been through any alcohol withdrawal, Schmidt said.

By March 27, 2019, a week before his death, monitoring indicated Bulthouse was showing “minimal or no” symptoms of withdrawal, according to Lopez.

He also noted that Bulthouse had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety but did not have a history of seizures.

When asked why Klonopin, a type of benzodiazepine used to treat seizures and anxiety disorders, was not present in Bulthouse’s toxicology report, Schmidt said it disappears from a person’s system within hours.

Bulthouse had been prescribed Klonopin, noted Chip Chamberlain, Schotts’ attorney.

Read more:

Death of Muskegon jail inmate caused by ‘gross neglect’ by staff, attorney general says

Muskegon County sheriff reopens investigation into inmate’s death

After AG charges 5 in inmate’s death, attorney questions Muskegon County’s earlier investigation


Jail muskegon county


The Muskegon Correctional Facility is a level II double-bunked facility comprised of eleven (11) buildings - six (6) housing units, Food Service, Educational/Leisure Time Activities and Programs and Administration.  Housing Unit One contains a 27-bed segregation unit, Health Care and 180 general population prisoners.  Unit Six is our Faith Base Unit housing 160 general population prisoners.  Remaining Housing Unit houses 238 general population prisoners.


Muskegon Correctional facility offers programs which includes, Special Education and GED preparation and testing, a state-of-the-art Welding program, Horticulture and Employment Readiness classes.  Reentry programing is offered in the form of Violence Prevention Programing, Thinking for a Change, Building Responsible Dynamic Gaining Essential Safety, Substance Abuse Education Phase 2, as well as Advanced Substance Abuse.  A variety of leisure activities are provided.  Religious services are provided along with general and legal library services. Muskegon Correctional Facility also host Prison Fellowships Pre-release Academy and Urban Ministry Institute programing, as well as PAW's for a Cause Dog Training program.

The perimeter security includes a buffer fence, double chain link fences, razor-ribbon wire, electronic detection systems, an armed patrol vehicle and gun towers.



Death raises new questions about care at Muskegon County Jail

Abuse and Neglect at Muskegon County Jail

Abuse and Neglect at Muskegon County Jail

About The Case
Client Biographies
Legal Documents

About the Case

The ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit against Muskegon County on behalf of eight female inmates of the Muskegon County Jail who contend that inhumane and degrading policies at the filthy, overcrowded lockup violate their constitutional rights.

The suit argues that, in addition to being exposed to unsafe physical conditions, males guards at the prison are permitted to watch female inmates even when the women have to get naked to change clothes, shower and use the toilet. The plaintiffs said they also are targeted with slurs and are often denied access to clean underwear and basic sanitary items such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.

“From health hazards to dehumanizing, unconstitutional procedures, conditions at the Muskegon County Jail are utterly deplorable,” said Miriam Aukerman, staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. “Muskegon County has abdicated its constitutional duty to ensure conditions of confinement at the jail just and consistent with health, safety, and human dignity.” more

Client Biographies

Paulette Bosch
Denise Vos
Michelle Semelbauer
Latrece Baker
Londora Kitchens
Tammy Speers

 Paulette Bosch 

I was incarcerated in the Muskegon County Jail from November of 2012 until April of 2013. I had given birth via a Cesarean section to my son three months before my incarceration.

When I arrived at the jail, I was placed in the jail’s holding tank and left there for about 7 days. The floor was covered in urine, and other bodily fluids, and was also full of ants and other insects. Cells had showers covered in dark mold and toilets which spilled raw sewage, urine, and menstrual blood.

During the entire time I was in the holding tank, I was not allowed to shower. During my stay in the holding tank, I noticed that my Cesarean section wound had become infected. The wound remained infected for months. I was told by jail medical staff the infection was Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Jail staff forced me to clean my infected wound myself in my filthy cell. They ignored my doctor’s instructions and didn’t even provide me enough medical supplies to regularly clean and treat my wound. I would plead for more supplies, but the staff just kept telling me they would not help me.

The infection was incredibly painful. I would often ask to see medical staff because of the pain, but guards ignored my requests. I now have a large scar to remember my time there.

► Read Paulette Bosch's Statement 

Denise Vos

I was an inmate in the Muskegon Country Jail from June of 2011 until February of 2012, as well as on prior occasions.

During the winter the cells became incredibly cold, especially at night. Women, including me, had to sleep on small mats on the freezing cold floor. Sometimes guards confiscated my and other women’s blankets as punishment.

Male guards in the day room could see me using the toilet, showering, dressing, and undressing. When I used the toilet, I had to take off my one piece uniform and expose my entire naked body. When I tried to protect my privacy by placing a small piece of toilet paper over the window of the cell, male guards would open the cell door, rip the toilet paper off the window, and slam the door behind them. This happened repeatedly.

Every single shower in the jail that I ever used was covered in dark mold.

► Read Denise Vos' Statement

Michelle Semelbauer

I was incarcerated in the Muskegon County Jail from October 9, 2012, until November 7, 2012.

I was in jail serving a “pay or stay” sentence for being unable to pay court fines and fees.

Within days of entering the jail, I paid my outstanding fines in full and should have been released. However, jail staff refused to believe me when I told them I should be release over and over again. I was incarcerated for an additional 28 days because jail staff failed to conduct an adequate investigation that would have shown they were holding me illegally.

Conditions in the jail’s holding tank and cellblocks were incredibly filthy, covered in urine and vomit.

When I left the jail, my mother and daughter started crying when they saw how sickly I looked.

► Read Michelle Semelbauer's Statement

Latrece Baker

I have been incarcerated multiple times at the Muskegon County Jail in the last three years. From the cat walk male guards and trustees can see women changing and using the toilet in their cells. I have been viewed in various stages of undress by male guards.

The shower in my cell had a curtain around it, but it was moldy and in disrepair. The toilet has no curtain or wall for privacy. The women in my cell hung up a sheet for privacy, but sometimes guards took it down. The whole facility is dirty and while incarcerated, I and the other inmates, fear contracting MRSA.

The indigent packages provided include toothpaste, a hand size piece of soap, toothbrush, deodorant, and a comb. They do not include underwear. The only way to get underwear is to purchase it. The jail does not provide enough feminine hygiene products. When inmates ask for pads, the staff often takes hours or even days to respond to their requests.

► Read Latrece Baker's Statement

Londora Kitchens

I was incarcerated at the Muskegon County Jail from approximately January 23, 2014 until September 2014.

In the cells, toilets routinely overflowed and flooded our cells with sewage water and urine.

I worked as a trustee in the jail, which means I did a lot of the cleaning. The cleaning solution provided to us appeared to be watered down and did not smell like cleaner. When cleaning, I felt like I am just moving around dirty water and not really getting anything clean.

I requested toilet tissue and sanitary napkins from jail officials on several occasions but my requests were ignored. For example on July 13, 2014, I was menstruating and was out of sanitary napkins. During this period, Officer Grieves told me that I was “shit out of luck,” and I better not “bleed on the floor.”

I am African-American. Ivan Morris, a guard at the jail, refers to African-American inmates as “your kind.” I have heard him say, “you’re in a cage like animals in a zoo.”

I understand that I made a mistake in breaking the law. However, nobody deserves to be forced to live like an animal and to be treated like one. We are women deserving of basic respect, sanitary conditions, bodily privacy, and simply to be treated like the women we are. Most inmates here have already been through so much. Being treated so inhumanely makes rehabilitation more difficult.

► Read Londora Kitchens' Statement

Tammy Speers

I was an inmate in the Muskegon Country Jail from approximately March 20, 2014, to August 28, 2014.

When I arrived at the jail, I was detoxing from an opiate addiction. For seven days, officers left me on the floor of a holding cell with as many as 18 other women, vomiting while going through withdrawal. I was not allowed to shower or change my stained clothing for seven days.

While I was in the holding tank, I had several cuts and scrapes that became seriously infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The wounds remained open for months. Not only that, but for two months I was forced to walk barefoot on the filthy, cold floor, which often had backed up toilet water or mouse feces on it as the jail did not provide me with shoes.

► Read Tammy Speers' Statement

Legal Documents

► Our legal complaint

► Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction

► Plaintiffs' motion for certification as a class action lawsuit

► Defendants' response to motion for preliminary injunction

► Defendants' response to motion for class certification

► First amended complaint

► Defendants' motion to strike first amended complaint

► Defendants' answer to complaint

► Plaintiffs' reply brief on motion for class certification

► Plaintiffs' reply brief on motion for preliminary injunction

► Defendants' answer to first amended complaint

► Plaintiffs response to motion to strike first amended complaint

► Defendants' request for pre-motion conference on summary judgment

► Defendants' sur-reply on motion for class certification

► Defendants' sur-reply on motion for preliminary injunction

► Plaintiffs' response to request for pre-motion conference

► Defendants' motion for summary judgment

► Plaintiffs' opposition to defendants motion for partial judgment

► Defendants' reply to opposition for of motion for partial judgment

► Opinion and order

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