Sunday, December 14, 2008

Part 1 - Detainee Health Care Spotlight

The last post on this blog addressed the riot and hostages taken this weekend at a private for profit Detention Center in Texas run by CCA's competition. The news media has reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees were also incarcerated at this facility much like the immigrants being housed at the Stewart Detention Center (SDC). It is interesting to note that allegedly this riot and hostage situation was caused by a failure of detainees to believe that they were receiving adequate health care following the death of a detainee in custody at that facility.

So the question I guess is are they right? Could there be some truth to these claims? Is medical care seriously lacking when it comes to the incarceration of illegal immigrants in this country? While I have no access to information on the specific conditions in place at that facility I do know that this year we seem to be hearing a very large amount of concerns regarding inadequate health care at Detention Centers. These concerns also have at times mentioned both Public Health Service (PHS) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Below I have outlined a few of the conditions which have been mentioned in the last year. Many more detainee health care failures are documented in the media and can easily be found through a google search.

* This year the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took up the issue of children being incarcerated at the CCA ran T Don Hutto Residential Facility in Texas. The ACLU made many claims, including that the children being detained at the Hutto facility were not receiving adequate medical, dental or mental health care. This led CCA to finally provide a pediatrician for the children it incarcerates at the T Don Hutto Facility. Some children also allegedly were not allowed outside for the entire month of December of 2007. If this allegation is true then CCA would be violating American Correctional Association (ACA) requirements which it continually claims it follows at all of it's facilities. Due to this legal action several other significant changes to CCA's operations at the Hutto Detention Center were ordered to take place. Some information can be found here.

* Anton Flores of Alterna Community has protested the CCA run Stewart Detention Center on several occasions. During these protests he has raised the issue of possible health care failures at the Stewart Detention Center.

* The House Judiciary Committee is apparently drafting a bill in response to at least 60 media documented deaths of detainees in detention centers. Apparently this legislation is the first congressional action to require adequate medical care for immigration detainees.

* 60 Minutes and The Washington Post did an investigation of the health care being provided by Public health Service (PHS) to detainees in Detention Centers. It is worth noting that PHS also provides health care to detainees at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. Video and a written account of that very disturbing report can be found here.

The "Warehouse" (seen at 3:48) featured in the 60 minutes piece is a CCA facility (the Elizabeth Detention Facility). CCA has maintained in the past that they do not warehouse prisoners. Which is kind of an odd thing to say if you lock them up in a former Warehouse in at least one state. In case you still don't think that CCA is Warehousing prisoners then here is a nice satellite image of the warehouse, I mean "Detention Center" they are running in New Jersey. If it was not human beings being incarcerated in New Jersey then it just might be funny how low CCA is willing to go in order to find a place to house and profit from incarcerating an illegal immigrant. Next time you hear CCA talking about how high tech it's facilities are just remember this facility. But then again CCA did originally start out by locking up prisoners in a former motel at CCA's first "Prison."