Gross Human Rights Violations at Immigration Jail

[Content Note: Neglect; abuse; carcerality; disablism; nativism; self-harm; sexual assault.]

At the Washington Post, Nick Miroff has a horrifying report about the wretched conditions at a California immigration jail, where inmates are being subjected to what can only be described as gross human rights violations:
The infernal conditions are described in a report issued Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security's office of inspector general, which audited the facility, overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in Adelanto, Calif.

...The report details numerous alleged instances of substandard care and neglect by jailers who "prematurely and inappropriately" locked detainees in segregation cells without proper review, the report found, actions that posed "a significant threat" to detainees' rights and their mental and physical health.

The auditors found gross violations of health and safety standards, including detainees forced to wait weeks or months to see a doctor, the report says. Basic dental care was nonexistent, it notes. With only two dentists on staff, services at the facility were so poor that inspectors could not find records of detainees receiving cleanings or fillings in the past four years.

One dentist told inspectors that there was no time for cleanings or fillings, and that it was up to inmates to take care of their own oral hygiene despite a lack of supplies. "The dentist dismissed the necessity of fillings if patients commit to brushing and flossing," the report said. "Floss is only available through detainee commissary accounts, but the dentist suggested detainees could use string from their socks to floss if they were dedicated to dental hygiene."

DHS inspectors reviewed all requests for dental fillings since 2014 and found that although the jail's two dentists identified cavities and placed detainees on a waiting list for fillings, no detainees received them. "One detainee we interviewed reported having multiple teeth fall out while waiting more than 2 years for cavities to be filled," the report said.

...DHS inspectors arrived in May to find nooses fashioned from twisted bedsheets hanging from air vents in 15 of 20 cells they visited.

"According to the guard escorting us, the nooses are a daily issue and very widespread," the auditors wrote. "When we asked two contract guards who oversaw the housing units why they did not remove the bed sheets, they echoed it was not a high priority."

...One of the worst alleged violations noted by inspectors involved a detainee in a wheelchair who had asked to be placed in a cell by himself but was instead locked in a disciplinary cell for nine days, the report says.

"Based on our file review, in those 9 days, the detainee never left his wheelchair to sleep in a bed or brush his teeth," the report reads.
The facility in question, though overseen by ICE, is a private, for-profit detention facility run by GEO Group. GEO Group is one of the biggest for-profit prison operators in the country, owning 71 federal prisons and detention centers with more than 75,000 beds.

GEO Group's abuses of immigrants has been long documented: Earlier this year, for instance, one of their facilities in Washington came under scrutiny for being located "within a toxic sludge field and EPA Superfund site where residential construction has been barred." That facility "has been the target of more than a dozen hunger strikes in recent years, each involving from a dozen to hundreds of detainees, over complaints of inadequate food and medical care," and has "faced one of the highest number of complaints about alleged physical and sexual assaults against detainees of any facility of its kind in the nation."

In 2014, one of the GEO Group's immigration detention centers in Texas was immediately turned into a rape house by the hired staff. After only two months in operation, a complaint was filed with the Department of Homeland Security alleging that guards were "removing mothers from their cells at night to engage in sexual acts, promising immigration help in exchange for sexual favors, and groping women in front of children."

As far back as 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported on endemic abuse at facilities run by GEO Group, which has allowed "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate" in its prisons, per a court order written by U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves regarding abuses at a youth facility.
Violence by youths and guards wasn't the only problem. Neither were the gang affiliations of some guards. Or the grossly inadequate medical and mental health care. Or the proliferation of drugs and other contraband. Or the lack of educational and rehabilitative programs. Or the wild overuse of pepper spray on passive youths.

Indeed, the DOJ found that sexual abuse — including brutal youth-on-youth rapes and "brazen" sexual misconduct by prison staffers who coerced youths — was "among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation."
These heinous abuses and the abject neglect at GEO Group facilities has been known and documented for a decade, and yet the U.S. government continues to subcontract to this reprehensible carcerality profiteer.

They wouldn't have, had Hillary Clinton won, as she promised to end federal contracts with private prisons.

Under the Trump Regime, however, it a pretty straightforward pay-for-play. In May of 2017, Mirren Gidda at Newsweek reported:
Running on a platform of getting tough on illegal immigration, [Donald Trump] promised to end catch-and-release — under which undocumented migrants are detained and then freed pending a court hearing — by keeping these people in detention centers. This, coupled with his self-described position as the "law and order candidate" vowing to get tough on crime, convinced the GEO Group that with Trump in charge, its fortunes could soon change.

On August 19, 2016, the day after [then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced that the Obama administration would begin phasing out private prisons], GEO Corrections Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of the GEO Group, donated $100,000 to the pro-Trump PAC Rebuilding America Now. Then, on November 1 — seven days before the presidential election — it gave another $125,000 to the organization.

In addition, GEO Corrections Holding Inc. had donated $200,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican PAC, on September 27, 2016, and $100,000 to the Conservative Solutions PAC on April 17, 2015.
And, when Trump was inaugurated, it was a windfall for GEO Group. Instead of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts, they got an influx of federal cash. In July of this year, Alex Kotch and Josefa Velasquez at Sludge reported that the first year of Trump's presidency "saw the largest sum of monetary obligations from ICE to contractors since 2008: $1.7 billion, according to" And GEO Group was the biggest beneficiary.
Way out ahead of the pack is private prison company and prodigious political donor GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, which had more than $470 million worth of ongoing contracts as of July 5. Just after Trump won the 2016 election, stocks in GEO Group and in private prison company, CoreCivic, soared in anticipation of tougher immigration policies.
So, for an investment of about half a million dollars in donations, the GEO Group protected and expanded its half-billion dollar business with the United States government.

Again, I want to underline that the Trump Regime's obscene immigration agenda is based on outright lies. There is no urgent crisis threatening the United States because of undocumented immigration — not an employment crisis, not a crime and violence crisis, not a health crisis.

Their vile nativism is for no reason other than malice, which lies at the center of Trump's entire agenda. It is malice of the highest order to subject migrants and refugees to gross abuses of their basic human rights so that a private corporation and its shareholders can line their pockets with taxpayers' dollars.

We are funding the neglect, abuse, rape, and despair of people who crossed our border in search of safety; in pursuit of a better life. We are funding their suffering, so that wealthy scum can hoard more gold.

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