The marker for the Flint Water Crisis is ticking closer and closer to its three year stamp, due next month in April. Yet, there’s still no signs of fully-restored clean water and more issues keep rising to the surface. This past Monday (Mar. 13), Michigan’s director of disease control, Corinne Miller, was sentenced to probation due to her inability to inform the public of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease, in which she attests she was in full awareness of its existence, NBC News reports. Legionnaires is “a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs.”
The town of Flint switched to the Flint River as a water source from Detroit, in order to implement cost-cutting measures. The extremely corrosive water went untreated which caused lead from old pipes to find its way circulating through the system.
Miller, who is now retired, pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of willful neglect last summer. There was no expectation of a jail sentence on the former director’s behalf, but the “slap on the wrist” punishment, which includes an apology letter and 300 hours of community service, was definitely a surprise. Miller’s defense attorney, Kristen Guinn, fought against the apology letter in fear that it could be used against the former corrupt official in civil lawsuits. Although the judge on the case, Jennifer Manley claims the apology is “perfectly appropriate in this case.”
While the death of 12 people and threat to the health of 88 others lies in the hands of Miller, some could argue that the punishment due to the unethical director of health isn’t enough. With the demographics of the majority of the town publicly known, this could also be looked at as a systemic racial issue. Hopefully, the residents seek justice on their own terms through civil lawsuits against the fraudulent health official. Nonetheless, the health of innocent Flint residents continues to be held prisoner by the lack of clean water, while Miller walks free with twelve-and-a-half days of community service, a court-advised apology letter, and the lives of 12 innocent civilians on her hands.