Call for Georgia migrant detention center closures after several deaths
Report by Penn State Law documented the deplorable conditions and the failure to provide adequate medical care to detainees with health issues and warns Trump’s desire to expand capacity would make it worse.
Civil organizations in Georgia on Thursday demanded the "immediate closure" of all the state's migrant detention centers after the recent deaths of two detainees in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
The deaths of Jean Carlos Jimenez-Joseph and Atul Kumar Babubhai Patel are an unfortunate illustration of the poor medical treatment, excessive use of solitary confinement, "deplorable" health conditions and unnecessary detention of people seeking refuge, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) chief Adelina Nicholls said Thursday.
Last week, ICE officials reported the death of 27-year-old Panamanian Jimenez-Joseph, who was found in his cell at the Stewart Detention Center - a for-profit prison operated by CoreCivic - after presumably committing suicide.
Stewart is about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Atlanta the the detention center there is the second-largest in the US.
One day later, ICE announced the death of an Indian citizen, Atul Kumar Babubhai Patel, 58, who died Tuesday afternoon at Grady Hospital, where he had been admitted after having breathing problems while authorities were making a routine inspection at the Atlanta Detention Center (ACDC) last Saturday.
The organizations demanded that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Stewart and Irwin County commissioners close the ACDC, as well as the Stewart and Irwin County detention centers to prevent more deaths.
Besides GLAHR, joining the protest were other organizations, including the Georgia Detention Watch, Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Project South.
A report by Project South and the Penn State Law Center for Immigrant Rights Clinic released this month documented the "deplorable" conditions many immigrants experience at the Stewart and Irwin detention centers.
According to the investigation, neither center is "equipped" to be able to deal with the physical and mental needs of detainees.
The authors of the report also alert that "the Trump administration is seeking $1.2bn additional funding to expand detention capacity, raising alarm that inadequate medical care will worsen. More than two-thirds of detainees are held in facilities operated by private prison companies,", as reported in The Guardian.
Project South attorney Azadeh Shahshahani said that as their investigation showed, the Georgia detention centers are plagued by human rights abuses including the extensive use of solitary confinement, minimal access to mental health treatment and inedible food.
The installations should be closed to prevent "even more tragedies," the lawyer said.
With the two deaths, a total of eight detainees have now died in ICE custody since the start of the 2017 Fiscal Year last Oct. 1.