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.