Saturday, March 21, 2009

Georgia Detention Watch Press Release

Friday, March 20, 2009

Azadeh Shahshahani, 404-574-0851,
Adelina Nicholls, 770-289-4833,

Atlanta – Georgia Detention Watch today expressed serious concerns about the death of Roberto Martinez Medina, a 39-year-old immigrant held in detention at the Stewart Detention Center, a for-profit facility located in rural southwest Georgia operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Mr. Martinez Medina reportedly died at a Columbus hospital on March 11, 2009. The immediate cause of his death remains unclear.

The death of Mr. Martinez Medina marks the latest in the tragically mounting number of immigrant deaths in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – at least 90 reported deaths since 2003. Many of the deaths could have been prevented through timely and effective access to healthcare. Due to the absence of enforceable standards and an independent oversight mechanism, ICE and the corporations that contract with it have for the most part escaped accountability.

Georgia Detention Watch today calls on Congress and the new administration to create enforceable standards binding ICE and corporations such as CCA to humane standards of care for the detainees and to ensure an effective and independent oversight mechanism. As the inherent inhumanity of the rapidly expanding immigration detention system in Georgia is highlighted through this tragic death, Georgia Detention Watch also continues to call for greater use of community-based alternatives to detention.

Georgia Detention Watch is a coalition of organizations and individuals that advocates alongside immigrants to end the inhumane and unjust detention and law enforcement policies and practices directed against immigrant communities in our state. Our coalition includes activists, community organizers, persons of faith, lawyers, and many more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Death at Stewart Detention Center

I received the following news story from Mr. Anton Flores (Alterna Community). I think it goes without saying that Mr. Flores, The 270 View and many other organizations will be following this incident very closely. Readers of the 270 View are also aware that we are currently running a special series of articles discussing the health care provided to ICE detainees. This incident raises some very serious questions that are addressed in DriveFast for Lents blog. If the Stewart Detention Center houses immigrants that are flown in and out of Columbus, GA quite regularly (sometimes hundreds in a day) then why is the facility not located closer to quality medical care and legal services. Is there a legitimate reason for locating the facility so far away from these services? Would Roberto Martinez Medina have lived if he was housed closer to a hospital that could deal with emergency medical conditions such as his? Sadly in a facility as large as SDC this situation will probably be repeated. Mr. Roberto Martinez Medina deserved better.

The story may be found here

as well as here

On March 11, the first detainee that I am aware of has died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and while being detained at the Stewart Detention Center, owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

Roberto Martinez Medina, age 39, from Mexico was an unlicenseable, immigrant worker who was being detained at the Stewart Detention Center when he went into a medical emergency, was transported to a hospital 45 minutes away in Columbus and was pronounced dead.

In a forthcoming report from the Georgia Detention Watch, it will document how detainees at this very detention center often complain about lack of access to medical attention. Was Mr. Martinez Medina such a victim? Did he file reqests for medical consults that, as other detainees allege, were minimized or ignored?

How long was Mr. Martinez Medina held in detention? According to staff at the Stewart Detention Center, the typical detainee is held at the medium-level security facility at least 45 days and climbing. How much stress does such a lengthy detention, not counting any time one may spend in a local jail, induce? What is the connection between stress and heart attacks? (Mr. Martinez Medina is suspected to have died at the age of 39 - my same age - from a heart attack).

Did ICE’s decision to place Mr. Martinez Medina in such a rural detention center like the one in Lumpkin, Georgia mean that access to emergency medical treatment was delayed? Saint Francis Hospital in Columbus is a one-hour drive from the Stewart Detention Center.

No immigrant should be in detention for the civil offense of unauthorized immigration. No immigrant should die miles away from a hospital while in the custody of ICE and a private prison company like CCA.

To the family of Mr. Martinez Medina, forgive us for we know not what we do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Coming Later This Week on The 270 View

The final two parts of the View's Spotlight on Detainee Health Care will be out later this week.

We want to thank the folks at for promoting The 270 View on the website. The folks at have so far earned three Emmy Awards and five Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigations into correctional abuse. They have been raising serious questions about CCA's Marion County Jail for some time now and have succeeded in bringing about some very significant changes at that facility. provides a great service to us all by highlighting issues of institutional abuse by companies like CCA.

We also want to thank Anton Flores and his Alterna Community for continuing to monitor actions at the Stewart Detention Center. Anton's support of The 270 View is very much appreciated. We look forward to working with Mr. Flores in the future. One of the Detainee Health Care Spotlight stories will also cover some medical issues that Mr. Flores and Alterna were involved with bringing to the publics attention.

Charlie Peterson Update

We reported before about how it appears that CCA's Assistant Warden Charlie Peterson (formerly of the Stewart Detention Center) apparently bought a college degree in order to get ahead (from the same well known school that apparently awards dogs college diploma's). Well it appears that CCA is not bothered by this type of unethical behavior. Apparently are friend Charlie has now gotten himself another Assistant Warden position with CCA. This time at the companies newest Georgia facility in Hall County.

This facility will apparently house 500 ICE detainees for immigration violations. It's amazing to us that ICE let's Charlie continue working at facilities they contract out if (as it appears) Charlie did in fact buy a fake diploma mill degree. I wonder why ICE does not regulate it's contracted facilities better. Don't they have standards in just who works at subcontracted tax payer paid for Detention Centers? It appears that The 270 View's reporting got him removed from the Stewart Detention Center but not from CCA. I guess at the end of the day if you really wanted to make the big bucks with CCA the best move you could make to get ahead would be to invest in a fraudulent diploma mill degree. I'm not sure what they pay an Assistant Warden but it has to be a pretty good return on a couple hundred dollar investment. And it's not like CCA does not know about this fraud, we have been reporting on it for months. We are very much aware that they read are little blog.

The story is here.

In the story linked above written by Gainsville Times reporter Harris Blackwood the new facilities Warden Stacey Stone states "We are eager to hire the best and brightest candidates to work in our detention center, and we look forward to becoming an active, strong part of this community."

Here is a link for Hall Counties "brightest Candidates." The 270 View wants to help you get ahead in the CCA hiring process. Who knows they might even need to hire another Assistant Warden.

If I was a resident of Hall County, GA then I would start doing some research into just what is and has been going on with CCA.

Reporter Blackwood's story also talks about how 8 out of every 100 people in Hall County are unemployed. Here is some more free advise, CCA always talks about hiring locally. If I was you I would look into just how many people they actually hire locally. Or even better, since they intend to hire so many people locally and always seem to make local hiring promises then I am sure if you really pushed this issue then you could get them to write it into the contract and if you don't then you probably should not be surprised at the actual amount of local hiring they do.

As before, if CCA actually wishes to contact us on the issue of Charlie Peterson's college degree then we will be more than happy to report the companies side of things. But The 270 View is pretty sure we know why they have chosen not to clarify this issue.