"PRISONERS of PROFIT: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia"

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 10, 2011

CONTACT:

Anton Flores-Maisonet, Georgia Detention Watch, 706-302-9661, anton@alternacommunity.com

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia, 404-574-0851, ashahshahani@acluga.org

 

 

Georgia Detention Watch

and human rights groups

hold Stewart Detention Center Vigil V:

“No More Profits Off Our Pain”

November 18 at 10 am in Lumpkin, Georgia

 

Advocates call for the for-profit detention center to be shut down

Atlanta, GA - On Friday, November 18 at 10 am, Georgia Detention Watch will hold its fifth annual vigil at Corrections Corporation of America’s Stewart Detention Center. “This year’s vigil will highlight the traumatic impact of detention on the families, especially children of those detained, while CCA continues to secure record-breaking profits off of human misery,” said Georgia Detention Watch Steering Committee member, Priscilla Padrón of Atlanta.

Families that have been directly impacted by detention at Stewart will play a major role in this year’s vigil. In 2010, Emily Guzman spoke on behalf of her husband, Pedro, who was detained inside Stewart for 19 months. Emily’s mother, Pamela Alberda and seven others were also arrested for a nonviolent act of civil disobedience at last year’s vigil as they demanded the release of her son-in-law. Earlier this year, victory was declared by advocates as Pedro was granted relief and reunited with his family. He will now address those in attendance at the vigil himself as a legal permanent resident of the United States.

“There’s so much money they make from us, but they’re not investing any money in detainees,” Pedro Guzman said in an interview upon his release from the for-profit detention center in the remote town of Lumpkin, population 1300. “The treatment you get is like you’re an animal. I have two dogs, and I treat my dogs much better than the detainees are treated in there.”

Others directly affected by the for-profit detention of immigrants at Stewart will also attend this year’s vigil, including Lilian Quiroz.

Quiroz’s husband, Paul, entered the United States in 1984 when he was only 11 years old and now has two children and a wife in a familial crisis as his detention at Stewart goes on for five months with no end in sight.

“It is time to close this for-profit detention center and end the mandatory detention of immigrants,” said Anton Flores-Maisonet of Georgia Detention Watch.

Additional individuals slated to speak at the vigil include Theresa El-Amin, a veteran of the civil rights movement and representative of the Southern Anti-Racist Network; Flores-Maisonet; Bryan Holcomb, a former employee-turned-whistleblower of Corrections Corporation of America’s Stewart Detention Center; and Azadeh Shahshahani of the ACLU of Georgia.


§ About the Stewart Detention Center
Located in rural Southwest Georgia, the Stewart Detention Center detains approximately 2,000 immigrant men for deportation proceedings. Stewart, the largest immigrant detention center in the U.S., is operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a Nashville-based corporation with revenue of $1.7 billion in 2010; CEO Damon Hinninger received a compensation package of $3,266,387 the same year. The average cost to the tax payer to house each detainee is $122 per day per bed.

Case-by-case data also show that the highest proportion of deportation orders in the country (98.8 percent) were issued by the judges in the Lumpkin, Georgia Immigration Court.

§ Conditions at Stewart: Substandard and Inhumane
An April 2009 report by Georgia Detention Watch on conditions at Stewart documented violations of ICE’s own detention standards at the facility. The report charged that food and medicine are withheld as punishment and that solitary confinement is routinely imposed without a disciplinary hearing. In March 2009, Roberto Martinez Medina, a 39-year-old immigrant held at Stewart died of a treatable heart infection. To this day, many unanswered questions surround his death. Additionally, Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen formerly detained at Stewart, has a lawsuit pending against the U.S. government for his wrongful detention and deportation.

 

§About Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)
2010 revenue: $1.7 billion
Prisoner capacity: 90,037
Year founded: 1983
Headquarters: Nashville, Tenn.
Head: Damon Hininger (president and CEO)
Executive compensation: $3,266,387 compensation package for Hininger in 2010 (according to Morningstar)

Sources: CCA: 2010 Annual Letter to Shareholders; A Quarter Century of Service to America; About CCA; Morningstar, Corrections Corporation of America, Key Executive Compensation.

 

Lead Sponsor: Georgia Detention Watch

 

Collaborators and Endorsers: 

 

School of the Americas Watch

American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia

Alterna

Asian American Legal Advocacy Center

Atlanta Friends Meeting Social Concerns Committee

Coalicion de Lideres Latinos-CLILA

Cobb Immigrant Alliance

Cuentame

Detention Watch Network

DreamActivist.org

Enlace

Georgia Immigrants and Refugees Rights Coalition

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

Georgia Peace and Just Coalition

Georgia Rural Urban Summit

International Action Center

International Center of Atlanta

Southern Anti-Racism Network

Southerners on New Ground

-----

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.

Member organizations of Georgia Detention Watch include: the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, American Immigration Lawyers Association Atlanta Chapter, Amnesty International-Southern Region, Amnesty International -Atlanta local group 75, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), Coalición De Líderes Latinos (CLILA), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Immigrant Justice Project- Southern Poverty Law Center, International Action Center, Open Door Community, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), and others.

 

 

Eight Arrested While Protesting

at Stewart Detention Center

 

100 march to close Stewart and free Pedro Guzmán 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Saturday, November 20, 2010

 

 CONTACT:

Anton Flores-Maisonet, Georgia Detention Watch, 706-302-9661, anton@alternacommunity.com

América Gruner- Coalition of Latino Leaders-CLILA- 404-803-4546 clila@clila.org

 

Lumpkin, GA – Calling for the closing of Stewart Detention Center and bringing detainee Pedro Guzman home to his wife and son, about 100 demonstrators marched from the Lumpkin town square to the gate of the detention center yesterday.  They carried a paper chain listing names and ages of the more than 110 detainees who have perished in immigration detention since 2003, including 39-year-old Roberto Martinez-Medina and 50-year-old Pedro Gumayagay who were being detained at Stewart.
Eight, including Pamela Alberda, mother-in-law of detainee Pedro Guzmán, were arrested as they peacefully attempted to cross a “Do Not Enter” tape wrapped around the front entrance to the detention center, while holding hands.  They were handcuffed and driven away, while other protestors sang: “We shall overcome.”  All eight were released on bond later in the day.
“It has been devastating for my family.  Most of all, I am profoundly disappointed in the lack of justice in our immigration system,” says Alberda.  “My grandson Logan asks, ‘Why can’t we just go get daddy?’ But today’s spirited action and the support of the people and organizations sustain us.”
This action follows prior vigils, humanitarian visitations, and the release of a report by Georgia Detention Watch focused on the Stewart Detention Center.  “The spotlight on this remote immigration detention center is justified as it is the largest in the United States and has a growing list of alleged human rights abuses, including lack of adequate medical care and the imposition of solidarity confinement without a disciplinary hearing,” says Anton Flores-Maisonet of Georgia Detention Watch.
“Crossing the arbitrary line drawn by CCA today was a necessary step to call our government to its highest ideals,” says Flores.
Co-sponsored by several state and national human rights organizations, the vigil drew attention to the collusion between government officials and for-profit corporations to place profits and politics over people and unethical profit-making by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), owner and operator of the facility in this remote location in southwest Georgia. 

The vigil highlighted the traumatic effects of detention on the spouses and children of those detained, particularly the case of Pedro Guzman.  Guzman has been detained at the Stewart facility for over a year, while his U.S. citizen wife, Emily, has spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting for justice.  Their case is currently on appeal as Guzman was inexplicably denied bond in this civil matter. 

####

§ About the Stewart Detention Center

Located in rural Southwest Georgia, the Stewart Detention Center detains approximately 2,000 men, primarily from Latin America. Stewart is run by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest private prison corporation.

 

---------

 

 § The organizations which endorsed or participated in the November 19 vigil included:

American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia

Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship

Coalicion de Lideres Latinos-CLILA (Dalton, GA)

Detention Watch Network (Washington, D.C.)

Georgia Detention Watch

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

International Action Center (Atlanta, GA)

Nipponzan Myohoji (Atlanta, GA)

School of the Americas Watch (Washington, D.C.)

School of the Americas Watch Los Angeles (California)

Voces de la Frontera (Milwaukee, WI)

Witness for Peace (Washington, D.C.)

 

--------------

 

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.

Member organizations of Georgia Detention Watch include: the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, American Immigration Lawyers Association Atlanta Chapter, Amnesty International-Southern Region, Amnesty International -Atlanta local group 75, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), Coalición De Líderes Latinos (CLILA), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Immigrant Justice Project- Southern Poverty Law Center, International Action Center, Open Door Community, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), and others.

 

 

 

 

Fourth Annual Vigil to Be Held at Corporate-Run Immigration Detention Center

 

SHUT DOWN STEWART!  BRING PEDRO HOME!

 

Vigil to highlight case of Pedro Guzman and his family;

shedding light on the traumatic effects of detention on spouses and children of those detained.

Press conference and vigil set for Friday, November 19, 10:00 a.m., Lumpkin, GA town square

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 15, 2010

CONTACT:
Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia, 404-574-0851, ashahshahani@acluga.org
Anton Flores-Maisonet, Georgia Detention Watch, 706-302-9661, anton@alternacommunity.com


Lumpkin, GA – Georgia Detention Watch today announced the fourth annual vigil at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA will be held Friday, November 19 at 10 am.  This vigil, co-sponsored by several state and national human rights organizations, draws attention to what organizers call the collusion between government officials and for-profit corporations to place profits and politics over people. The vigil is expected to draw participants from across the United States, including individuals directly impacted by the inhumane detention policies of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the unethical profit-making by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), owner and operator of the facility in this remote location in southwest Georgia.

This vigil will highlight the traumatic effects of detention on the spouses and children of those detained.  One of the featured cases will be that of Pedro Guzman.  Guzman has been detained at the Stewart facility for over a year, while his U.S. citizen wife, Emily, has spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting for justice.  Their case is currently on appeal as Guzman was inexplicably denied bond in this civil matter.

“I never knew that the immigration system in the United States was so outrageously flawed until I began to experience it through my husband,” said Mrs. Guzman. “Pedro is one of the very few fighting his case in immigration detention.  It is a daily emotional fight for him to continue without his freedom.  He is incarcerated in a unit with more than 60 other detainees, no edible food, no privacy, no contact visits with us, being treated like an animal, and 9 hours away from our home.  Most days he feels he can no longer fight.  He qualifies to be here legally but the broken immigration system continues to detain him.  Taxpayers are paying approximately $100 per day to keep Pedro away from me and his four-year old son.”

This action follows prior vigils, humanitarian visitations, and the release of a report by Georgia Detention Watch focused on the Stewart Detention Center.  “The spotlight on this remote immigration detention center is justified as it is the largest in the United States and has a growing list of alleged human rights abuses, including lack of adequate medical care and the imposition of solidarity confinement without a disciplinary hearing,“ says Anton Flores-Maisonet of Georgia Detention Watch.   The March 2009 death of Roberto Martinez Medina, an immigrant detained at Stewart, of a treatable heart infection further accentuated ICE and CCA’s deadly track record and the problematic fact that the facility is located one hour from the nearest hospital.  Additionally, Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen with mental disabilities who has a pending lawsuit against the U.S. government and CCA for his wrongful detention and deportation was detained unlawfully for six weeks at Stewart.

"Recently we’ve been hearing reports detailing CCA’s role in lobbying for, and even helping state legislators draft, anti-immigrant legislation.  CCA is interested in the passage of these bills because these measures line the corporation’s pockets with millions in profits. In the meantime, alternatives to detention are available which would protect due process and basic human rights while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars,” said Emily Tucker, Policy and Advocacy Director for D.C.-based Detention Watch Network.

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director and Chair of Georgia Detention Watch,  and an attorney on the ACLU case filed on behalf of Mark Lyttle said: "Mark's case is a tragedy that serves to underscore the deep systemic injustices that continue to plague our government's system of detention, one that involves notorious corporations such as CCA and remote facilities such as Stewart."

"Mark is just one of thousands of people in this country who have been victimized by a single-minded focus on detention and deportation without the kind of individualized determinations that are the essence of due process," said Shahshahani.

Emily Guzman, Tucker, and Shahshahani will speak at the vigil.  Catalina Nieto, National Grassroots Organizer for Witness for Peace, will also address those in attendance while Jason Chin, John Fromer, and Francisco Herrera will be guest musicians.
-----
§ About the Stewart Detention Center
Located in rural Southwest Georgia, the Stewart Detention Center detains approximately 2,000 men, primarily from Latin America. Stewart is run by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest private prison corporation.

§ The growing list of organizations participating in the November 19 vigil includes:
American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia
Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship
Coalicion de Lideres Latinos-CLILA (Dalton, GA)
Detention Watch Network (Washington, D.C.)
Georgia Detention Watch
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
International Action Center (Atlanta, GA)
Nipponzan Myohoji (Atlanta, GA)
School of the Americas Watch (Washington, D.C.)
School of the Americas Watch Los Angeles (California)
Voces de la Frontera (Milwaukee, WI)
Witness for Peace (Washington, D.C.)

###

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.

Member organizations of Georgia Detention Watch include: the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, American Immigration Lawyers Association Atlanta Chapter, Amnesty International-Southern Region, Amnesty International -Atlanta local group 75, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), Coalición De Líderes Latinos (CLILA), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Immigrant Justice Project- Southern Poverty Law Center, International Action Center, Open Door Community, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), and others.

For more on Georgia Detention Watch, visit our website: www.georgiadetentionwatch.com
For more on Pedro Guzman’s struggle, visit: www.logansdad.org
For an exceptional article on Pedro Guzman, the Stewart Detention Center, and immigration court, visit: bit.ly/cHTcXH

 

Letter to Secretary Napolitano

Calling for an End to ICE/Local Police Collaboration

and a Halt to Expansion of Immigration Detention System

 

 

 Press Conference Will Be Thursday,

July 29th, 2 p.m.

 

in front of ICE Office,

180 Spring St. SW

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, July 29, 2010

 

CONTACT:

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia, 404-574-0851, ashahshahani@acluga.org

PJ Edwards, Georgia Detention Watch, 770- 312-7718, pilgrimage@travelerstogether.org

 

Atlanta – On the occasion of the scheduled implementation of Arizona’s racial profiling law, SB 1070, veterans of the civil rights movement and representatives of social justice and faith-based community organizations in Georgia today issued a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, calling on her to put an end to 287(g) and other ICE-local police collaborations which lead to racial profiling and separation of families, and halt the expansion of the inhumane, profit-driven immigration detention system.

 

“As veterans of the civil rights movement and representatives of social-justice and faith-based organizations in Georgia, we urge you to take the bold steps necessary to end this unjust system that creates divided families and improbable prisoners,” says the letter.  Signatories of the letter include: Constance Curry, a veteran of the civil rights movement and Atlanta-based writer and activist; Edward Dubose, President of the Georgia State Conference NAACP; Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director of the U.S. Human Rights Network; Jerome Scott, Founder and Board Chair of Project South; Reverend Gregory Williams, President of Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE); and many others.

 

A ruling by a federal court yesterday blocked key sections of the Arizona racial profiling law, pending a final court ruling on the law’s constitutionality.  “The administration should be applauded for stepping forward to challenge this unconstitutional law,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director of the ACLU of Georgia.  “But racial profiling as a result of ICE/local police collaboration and inhumane detention impacting communities in Georgia and across the country continues.  It is time for the administration to step up and put an end to costly and ineffective enforcement mechanisms that run counter to fundamental American values of fairness and due process.”

 

The press conference will be Thursday, 2 pm, in front of the ICE office in downtown Atlanta, 180 Spring Street SW.  The letter bearing the signatures will be hand-delivered to local ICE officials afterwards.  In addition to Shahshahani, speakers will include: Teodoro Maus, President of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights; Pastor Michael B. Wright, Sr. of New Life Christian Church International and ABLE; PJ Edwards of Georgia Detention Watch; and Anton Flores of Alterna and Georgia Detention Watch.

 

###

 

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.   

 

Member organizations of Georgia Detention Watch include: The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, American Immigration Lawyers Association Atlanta Chapter, Amnesty International-Southern Region, Amnesty International -Atlanta local group 75, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), Coalición De Líderes Latinos (CLILA), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Immigrant Justice Project- Southern Poverty Law Center, International Action Center, Open Door Community, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), and others. 

Georgia Detention Watch

Encourages Strong Community Participation in the May 1st March for Immigrant Justice

 

Activists to march in Solidarity with immigrants

and people of color in Arizona

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Friday, April 29, 2010

 

CONTACT:

Priscilla Padrón, Georgia Detention Watch,

404-371-8340, priscatran@gmail.com

 

Adelina Nicholls, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, 770-457-5232, anicholls@glahr.org

 

Atlanta, Georgia – Georgia Detention Watch is to join in the May 1st nationwide rally for immigrant justice to call for humane immigration reform, termination of 287(g), and an immediate end to racial profiling.  In joining the march, Georgia Detention Watch also joins thousands of organizations across the country in strong condemnation of the recent passage and signing into law of Arizona’s racial profiling law, SB1070. 

 

“Communities nationwide are mobilizing to show their support in this national mobilization for immigrant and workers’ rights,” said Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), the organizer of the march in Georgia.  “We march to show our solidarity with immigrant communities in the aftermath of Arizona's huge step backwards in the struggle for human rights,” continued Nicholls. 

Arizona’s racial profiling law, SB 1070, requires local law enforcement officers who have "reasonable suspicion" about someone's immigration status to demand to see documentation. 

 

 “What happens in Arizona, stops in Arizona,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director of the ACLU of Georgia.  “Arizona’s law encourages racial profiling and is unconstitutional.  This extreme law puts Arizona completely out of step with American values of fairness and equality,” continued Shahshahani. 

 

“It is wrong to institutionalize racial profiling and prejudice, as we have so painfully learned from our history,” said Priscilla Padron of Georgia Detention Watch.

 

"Arizona’s bill makes the false promise of improving security, but what it actually does is to drive a wedge between the police and the communities they serve and protect,” continued PJ Edwards of Georgia Detention Watch.  “We urge our own state to assume a higher moral ground by refusing to entertain such draconian legislative initiatives in the future.  We have faith that Georgia will not fall in line behind Arizona,” continued Edwards.

 

The march in Atlanta is co-sponsored by dozens of Georgia-based human rights groups and coalitions, including Georgia Detention Watch.  The march will begin at the Capitol Building on Washington Street.  Marchers are to pass several landmarks of significance to the civil rights movement in the downtown area.  The event will conclude with speeches by community leaders

 

 

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.   

Member organizations of Georgia Detention Watch include: The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, American Immigration Lawyers Association Atlanta Chapter, Amnesty International-Southern Region, Amnesty International -Atlanta local group 75, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), Coalición De Líderes Latinos (CLILA), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Immigrant Justice Project- Southern Poverty Law Center, International Action Center, Open Door Community, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), and others.

 

 

  Press  Release 

 

 

 Primary Contact: Alan Shope, 678.617.7564, johnalanshope@yahoo.com  

Alternative Contact: PJ Edwards, 770.312.7718, info@travelerstogether.org    

 

GEORGIA ACTIVISTS AND FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS JOIN THE LAUNCH

OF A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO

PUT AN END TO EXPANSION OF

THE IMMIGRATION DETENTION SYSTEM

 

What: Press Conference, Public Testimony, & Prayer Service

Who: St. Michael Catholic Church, Georgia Detention Watch, and Detention Watch Network  

When: 25 February 2010 at 12 P.M.            

Where: In front of the for-profit North Georgia Detention Center located at 622 Main Street, Gainesville, GA 30501

 

23 February 2010 – Over 50 people are expected to participate in a public ceremony in front of the North Georgia Detention Center to raise awareness and mobilize action against the inhumane treatment of people held in immigration detention centers in Georgia and to stand in solidarity with activists across the country in launch the national campaign “Dignity, Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights And Restoring Justice” which calls for an end to detention expansion nationally.   The event, organized by St. Michael Catholic Church and Georgia Detention Watch, will include participation by clergy, local community members, and other Georgians advocating for the restoration of justice within the U.S. immigration systems and respect for basic human dignity. Activists are calling on President Obama to take immediate action to prevent human rights abuses in U.S. detention facilities and to put an end to the arbitrary detention of more than 300,000 immigrants each year. Likewise, the groups call on the Georgia municipalities to stop contributing to the growth of a broken immigration detention system and end the current contracts with the Corrections Corporation of America for operation of the detention centers. The event is open to the public.

 

“Most immigrants in detention have fled poverty or violence in their home countries. The U.S. demand for labor has brought them here where their participation has made positive contributions to our economy, churches, and communities,” said PJ Edwards of Georgia Detention Watch. “ICE acknowledges that the vast majority of those detained are not a threat to the public, yet we continue to use overly costly, restrictive, and often inhumane detention instead of effective alternatives. As the growing reliance on for-profit prison corporations shows, profit has clearly been put before people,” said Edwards.  

 

The action follows two previous vigils, several humanitarian visitations, and the release of a Georgia Detention Watch report that documented violations of immigration detention standards at the Stewart Detention Center, a facility in Lumpkin, Georgia operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest private prison corporation. Corrections Corporations of America also operates the recently-opened North Georgia Detention Center that has a capacity of 500. “In light of CCA’s deadly track record and the corporation’s failure to abide by ICE’s own standards in the treatment it affords to immigrants in detention, we are calling upon Georgia municipalities to end the contracts with CCA for operation of the Stewart Detention Center and the North Georgia Detention Center,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director for the ACLU of Georgia. “Instead, community-based and humane alternatives to detention should be utilized which are much less costly to American taxpayers,” said Shahshahani.

 

 

 

 

Georgia Detention Watch Renews Demands for Answers

from ICE Regarding Death of

Roberto Martinez Medina

 

Based on Review of Georgia State Medical Examiner’s Official Autopsy Report

and Mr. Medina’s Medical Records

____________

Announcement by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about

Immediate Cause of Death Raises More Questions than Provide Answers

____________

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

 

CONTACT:

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia, 404-574-0851, ashahshahani@acluga.org

PJ Edwards, (770) 312-7718, pilgrimage@travelerstogether.org

 

 

Atlanta Georgia Detention Watch today renewed demands for answers regarding the death of Roberto Martinez Medina, a 39-year-old immigrant held at the Stewart Detention Center, an immigration detention facility operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), based on a review of the Georgia State Medical Examiner’s Official Autopsy Report and Mr. Medina’s medical records.

 

In June 2009, Georgia Detention Watch held an all-day vigil in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office to commemorate the death of Roberto Martinez Medina.  As a result of the action, that same day, a GBI spokesperson announced that Mr. Medina had died of Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle which is usually caused by a viral infection and normally treatable.

 

Based on the information provided to Georgia Detention Watch by Brian Spears, the attorney who represents Mr. Medina’s widow, the Assistant Field Office Director for ICE Detention and Removal Operations, Michael Webster, acknowledged to GBI investigators that Mr. Medina had experienced chest pain for three days prior to his death.  Webster reported, however, that Medina “did not voice the complaint.”

 

According to the records of St. Francis Hospital, located in Columbus, Georgia, Mr. Medina reported to staff that he had developed a fever and a cough and suffered chest pain starting a week before his hospitalization, and that the symptoms worsened in the three days before he was rushed to the hospital on the afternoon of March 10, 2009.    Although hospital doctors were able to quickly diagnose Mr. Medina as suffering from Myocarditis, his condition rapidly deteriorated.  Mr. Medina died in the early hours of March 11, 2009. 

 

According to Attorney Brian Spears, “We know HOW he died, but we do not know WHY he died.  Why was he not diagnosed and treated sooner?  For most patients, this heart condition is a treatable condition.  We will not know whether his life could have been saved until ICE releases Medina’s medical records compiled while at the Stewart Detention Center.” 

 

A Freedom of Information Act request to ICE for additional information pertaining to Mr. Medina’s medical record as well as any medical tests and examinations is currently pending.

 

“The revelation about the immediate cause of Mr. Medina’s death is troubling in light of our conversations with the detainees at Stewart where they spoke of infections and rashes that were left untreated and further stated that their requests for medical treatment and medication were not heeded,” said PJ Edwards, a Georgia Detention Watch member.  Mr. Edwards was part of the Georgia Detention Watch delegation that paid a visit to the Stewart Detention Center in December 2008.  He contributed to writing of the report on detention conditions at the Stewart Detention Center based on interviews with sixteen detainees.  “In addition, most detainees complained about the lack of bilingual staff at the detention center; this makes it very difficult for the detainees to communicate with personnel about their health problems,” continued Mr. Edwards.

 

The Georgia Detention Watch report used the ICE Performance Based National Detention Standards as the standard by which to gauge conditions at Stewart and made specific recommendations in several areas in addition to medical care, including food services, the disciplinary system, personal hygiene, and staff training and development.  Members of Georgia Detention Watch and partner organizations have requested on several occasions to meet with ICE to discuss the findings of the report, but have not received a response.

 

The death of Roberto Martinez Medina marks the latest in the tragically mounting number of immigrant deaths in the custody of ICE – at least 90 reported deaths since October 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, such as CCA, have for the most part escaped accountability.