Thursday, March 29, 2012

GOP lawmakers ridicule aid for jailed immigrants

Originally found here.

By Brian Bennett
WASHINGTON - Republicans in Congress mocked the Obama administration's plans to improve conditions for immigrants held in county jails and detention facilities Wednesday, saying that a raft of changes written by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement amounts to coddling lawbreakers.

In a hearing titled "Holiday on ICE," Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, took aim at recent administrative changes designed to improve medical care for detainees, reduce incidents of sexual abuse, and increase access to safe water and outdoor recreation, among other changes.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the changes after coming under fire from news reports, human-rights groups, and internal investigations for putting immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes in detention facilities plagued by sexual assaults and inadequate medical care.

Democrats on the committee took aim at the sarcastic title of the hearing, saying it belittled the serious issue of the agency's poor track record of ensuring the safety and health of detainees in custody. To help make that point, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.) displayed graphic photographs depicting immigrants with fatal wounds and medical conditions that went untreated in detention facilities.

The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, had asked Smith to reconsider the title of the hearing.

"I hope we can agree that the manner in which we treat immigrants in our detention facilities is not a laughing matter," Conyers wrote in a letter sent Tuesday.

Smith was undeterred.

"ICE has decided to upgrade accommodations for detained illegal and criminal immigrants," he said during the opening minutes of the hearing. "While we would all like to be upgraded, we don't have the luxury of billing the American taxpayers or making federal law enforcement agents our concierge."

"Detention is no holiday," said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who attended the hearing. "I think they should be embarrassed to describe people who are deprived of their liberty as if they were on vacation."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ACLU of Georgia, Sutherland, and Attorney Brian Spears File Lawsuit on Behalf of the Widow of Roberto Medina-Martinez

Roberto Medina-Martinez Died at Stewart Detention Center Due to Alleged Negligence of Medical Staff

March 27, 2012

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia, (404) 574-0851;
Brian Spears, (404) 872-7086;

ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Sutherland, and Attorney Brian Spears filed a lawsuit today in US District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on behalf of Sara Hernandez-Gonzalez, the widow of Roberto Medina-Martinez against the US Government for its negligence which led to the death of Mr. Medina.  Mr. Medina was a 39 year-old man from Mexico who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Stewart Detention Center.  Mr. Medina died while in ICE custody at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia on March 11, 2009, from acute myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that is usually caused by a viral infection and is often treatable.

“The records obtained by the ACLU show that Roberto Medina-Martinez was the victim of systemic negligence on the part of the medical staff at the Stewart Detention Center resulting in his unnecessary death,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the ACLU of Georgia. 

The Government’s negligence included the staff’s failure to have medical examinations signed by a physician in violation of Department of Homeland Security’s Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS) policy and the failure to note Mr. Medina’s chest x-ray as abnormal.  The Government’s negligence also included the pervasive failure on the part of the lead physician to review health records, the proper review of which combined with appropriate follow-up could have prevented Mr. Medina’s death. 

This failure was not an aberration.  An investigation conducted following Mr. Medina’s death revealed that the physician was systematically failing to conduct the required review of the medical examination information, thereby jeopardizing the health of the entire detention center population. 

“With this lawsuit, we take the next step to seek justice for the widow and family of Roberto Medina-Martinez,” said Attorney Brian Spears.   “We contend that Mr. Medina’s death could have been prevented and that he died as a result of systematic neglect by certain medical professionals at the Stewart Detention Center.”

The lawsuit against the US Government charges that negligent acts and omissions of the Government or its agents caused the death of Mr. Medina and asks the court to award damages to Mr. Medina’s widow for his wrongful death.

Attorneys on the case include J. Dean Marshall and Benjamin Morgan of Sutherland; Chara Fisher Jackson and Shahshahani of the ACLU of Georgia; and Spears.

The actual complaint can be viewed here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In Memory of Ada Essie Sharpton

Are thoughts are with Pastor Kenneth Glasgow today as his grandmother Ada Essie Sharpton is buried and his family deals with this very emotional time. Pastor Kenneth Glasgow is the founder of "The Ordinary People Society" (T.O.P.S.). Mr. Glasgow spoke out against Corrections Corporation of America at the 5th Annual "Rally to Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center" in November of last year (2011). Mr. Glasgow and his brother (The Reverend Al Sharpton) have also both been very involved in the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin. The link above shows Mr. Glasgow speaking at the Rally. It is worth noting that Mr. Glasgow also addresses the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which we blogged about earlier this week. His comments about ALEC are very timely as ALEC has also been drawn into the recent controversy surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Additional coverage of the funeral can be found here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cause & Effect - Does ALEC and the NRA have Blood on it's hands with the death of Trayvon Martin?

The above video is from Cuentame's Immigrants For Sale campaign.

Immigration rights groups have spoken out for a long time now about the self-enriching process that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) engaged in to fund, write and argue for the passage of anti-immigrant hate laws. When these laws were passed they led to a huge expansion of the for-profit detention business that CCA then made millions of dollars in tax-payer funds off of through entering into lucrative contracts to run for-profit detention centers for the United States government. This was all done through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Through being a member of ALEC, Corrections Corporation of America directly had a hand in writing and then lobbying for the passage of the recent anti-immigrant hate laws in Arizona that then spread to several other states. Without ALEC and CCA these laws would not have been written as they were. They were not developed to make the United States borders more secure. They were developed with the intention to make Corrections Corporation of America and it's investors money, which is exactly what happened.

Reports are now coming out that ALEC and another one of it's members the National Rifle Association (NRA) wrote the highly controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. Law enforcement representatives from Sanford, Florida claim that this law legally protects George Zimmerman (the racist shooter of Trayvon Martin) from being prosecuted for his murder. The Talking Points Minute blog has reported that it obtained minutes from a 2005 meeting from an old ALEC website from the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause. These minutes reportedly show that Marion Hammer of the NRA pitched model legislation to ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force. The Talking Points Minute blog goes on to state... that an old NRA update also documented the meeting. “Her talk was well-received, and the task force subsequently adopted the measure unanimously,” the NRA wrote in an Aug. 12, 2005 post on the NRA website.

Update: The Orlando Sentinel newspaper has also joined in or reporting a ALEC and NRA connection to the "Stand Your Ground law." It's article from today is available here.

All opinions and allegations expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own decision.

Sound Familiar? A United Nations Report Details Torture In United States Detention Centers

On February 29, 2012 the United Nations Human Rights Counsel released a report alleging that 16 gay and transgender immigrants detained in United States immigration detention facilities were tortured. The report states that these actions were a direct violation of articles 7 and 12 of the United Nations Convention against Torture. This report also notes that the United States government declined to respond to a United Nations communication dated August 19, 2011, regarding allegations of torture and ill-treatment in immigration detention facilities. The United Nations Human Rights Council is now demanding an immediate investigation of the conditions of detention, solitary confinement and ill-treatment of the immigrants, and to prosecute and punish the individuals that are responsible for torturing immigrant detainees.

As a side note it is also worth noting that the United States Department of Justice is so far refusing to cover detention facilities under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Sadly this report appears to be just another example of why PREA should apply to Detention Centers.

This Blog writer has repeatedly gone on the record and stated that he observed behavior like this as having taken place at Corrections Corporation of America's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. Back in December of 2010 I discussed on this blog how the facilities Warden (Vance Laughlin) had openly mocked a transgendered detainee to a civil rights activist who was touring the facility. In December of 2011 I ran a three part series of articles directly addressing the rape and abuse of a transgendered detainee by both the staff and prisoners at Corrections Corporation of America's Eloy Detention facility in Eloy, Arizona. This writer has also previously gone on the record as having personally observed the placement of a transgendered detainee in Solitary confinement at the Stewart Detention Center for no reason other than being transgendered. This incident was one of the topics that I briefly discussed when I spoke at the "5th Annual Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center Rally" on November 18, 2011 in Lumpkin, GA.

The United Nations Human Rights Counsel report confirms as existing conditions in United States detention centers exactly like I have previously spoken about as having personally witnessed. This blog continues to feel that if Corrections Corporation of America can not humanly hold people in detention then they are failing to live up to the contracts that the United States government has made with them. Corrections Corporation of America regularly claims that they comply with both American Correctional Association (ACA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS). Yet the facts continue to state otherwise.

It is way past time for Corrections Corporation of America to be held accountable for the inhumane and deplorable conditions it forces upon both the immigrants in it's for-profit detention centers and the American citizens held in it's for-profit prisons. For this to happen the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would have to take it's self seriously and actually enforce it's own Detention Standards on the abusive companies that it contracts to run these taxpayer supported money pits of misery. However, when the United States government declines to answer the United Nations Human Rights Council's inquiries into torture it kind of makes you wonder just how seriously our government takes the conditions inside it's own detention centers.

All opinions and allegations expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own decision.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Look Ahead to this Weeks Posts

This coming week I will be continuing my series of reports on the recent Department of Homeland Security/Immigration & Customs Enforcement agencies investigation of myself and my blog. This investigation took place after I had come forward in a high profile media campaign that documented deplorable conditions and human rights violations present at Corrections Corporation of America's Stewart Detention Center (SDC). Corrections Corporation of America runs the for-profit SDC facility through a contract with DHS/ICE and Stewart County Georgia.

In a separate posting this week I will be addressing the findings of a recent United Nations report on violations against undocumented immigrants being held in detention facilities. I will be confirming having witnessed exactly the type of violations the report documents as having taken place at CCA's for-profit Stewart Detention Center.

I appreciate everyone being so patient with my sporadic blog postings as I continue to deal with my medical issues.

All opinions expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own opinion.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Setting the record straight on Newt Gingrich

Today the 270 View is going to discuss and set the record straight on Newt Gingrich's horrible ideas for reforming immigration. The reality is that this guy is really clueless and probably should of dropped out of the presidential race a long time ago. While he casts himself as a contender for the White House the reality is that he has next to no chance of making it onto the ballot against Barack Obama. I suppose if meteorites struck all of the current candidates who actually had a chance (and no one else then decided to enter the race) then he might have a chance but lets be honest that is not going to happen. Regardless though we are going to discuss a few of his less than stellar ideas on immigration today.

First off Mr. Gingrich feels that undocumented youth should serve in the military in order to receive citizenship. As a military veteran myself it is ironic that candidate Gingrich feels this way when he sought out and received a military service deferment in order to not have to serve in the United States military during the Vietnam conflict. During this conflict many Wiregrass citizens chose to voluntarily join or were drafted into military service while people like Mr. Gingrich took a less dangerous path by dodging the obligation that others felt in serving. So how is it that Mr. Gingrich wishes to push military service onto undocumented youth when he himself as a legal citizen took steps to circumvent having to serve? With both the current conflicts in the middle east (Iraq & Afghanistan) ending the military is entering a period of down sizing. So it is debatable that the military even needs new recruits in numbers larger than it already could attract when people who possibly want to be in uniform might be phased out as the military shrinks over the next few years. Perhaps Mr. Gingrich is aware of this and just sees referring immigrants to non-existing work in the military as a way of not really having to offer an actual pathway to citizenship in any real or meaningful numbers.

Following the rampant and well documented abuses in the current for-profit detention system by companies like Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Corporation it is worth noting that Mr. Gingrich favors expanding the monetization of undocumented workers by handing management of a guest worker program over to companies like American Express, Visa, or MasterCard. Mr. Gingrich does not seem to understand that human beings are not commodities that can be used to increase corporate profits. The current for-profit detention model is a failure and this laughable and misguided idea of his would also be doomed to failure and a huge waste of tax payer provided funds.

With ideas like these one can clearly see that Newt Gingrich is out of touch with any real ideas on immigration reform. He remains opposed to the Dream Act and instead sees ways of expanding the ability for private corporations to cash in on undocumented immigrants. Currently it is pretty obvious that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is doing a horrible job in this country. But does Newt Gingrich really have such little faith in ICE that he would remove them from large parts of the immigration system and instead replace them with even more corporations who could then profit off of immigration and the taxpayers instead of simply reforming current ICE policies.