Monday, May 12, 2008

Immigration Detainees 's Deaths Gross Negligence or Indifference Result of a Broken System

Serious problems of negligence are raised over the detaining of immigrants awaiting rulings on whether they should be granted visas or have their visa renewed or that they should be deported. The problems range from lack of proper oversight to over crowding / inadequate care/ staff shortages / burn out/lack of qualified personnel/ long delays in testing and treatment of sick detainees.

In some cases abuses or negligence is simply a matter of bureaucratic bungling . At the extreme end of the scale there is good evidence which shows in some cases a deliberate attempts to coverup the circumstances of a detainees death. This is not to suggest that all who have died under suspicious circumstances that there was foul play but rather some form of gross negligence. The problems and issues raised are more a matter of the break-down of an over taxed system . The responsibility for what has gone wrong points to those in charge of the facilities and the various levels of government who are responsible and accountable for the running of these facilities. They need more money for better facilities and for more qualified medical staff and better trained guards . There is also a need to clarify for all those involved the true status of these detainees who are not being accused of terrorist activity or any other more serious crime . Many of the detainees are in some sort of bureaucratic or legal limbo but do not represent a real and present danger to America's National Security.

Careless Detention/ System of Neglect Washington

As Tighter Immigration Policies Strain Federal Agencies, The Detainees in Their Care Often Pay a Heavy Cost
by Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein
May 11, 2008

The most vulnerable detainees, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen, according to a Post investigation.

The investigation found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages. It is also a world increasingly run by high-priced private contractors. There is evidence that infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and chicken pox, are spreading inside the centers.

... Government professionals provide health care at 23 facilities, which house roughly half of the 33,000 detainees. Seven of those sites are owned by private prison companies. Last year, the government also housed detainees in 279 local and county jails. To handle the influx of detainees, ICE added 6,300 beds in 2006 and an additional 4,200 since then. They too are nearly full.

These way stations between life in and outside the United States are mostly out of sight: in deserts and industrial warehouse districts, in sequestered valleys next to other prisons, or near noisy airports. Some compounds never allow detainees outdoor recreation; others let them out onto tiny dirt patches once or twice a week.

Detainees are not guaranteed free legal representation, and only about one in 10 has an attorney. When lawyers get involved, they often have difficulty prying medical information out of the bureaucracy -- or even finding clients, who are routinely moved without notice.

...The burden of health care for this crush of human lives falls on an obscure federal agency that lacks the political clout and bureaucratic rigor to do its job well. The Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS), housed in a private office building at 13th and L streets NW several blocks from ICE headquarters, had a budget last year of $61 million. ICE spent an additional $28 million last year on outside medical care for detainees.

Medical spending has not kept pace with the growth in population. Since 2001, the number of detainees over the course of each year has more than tripled to 311,000, according to ICE and the Government Accountability Office. Meanwhile, spending for the DIHS and outside care has not quite doubled, ICE figures show. ICE's conflicting population and budget numbers make the trends difficult to determine.

The agency is responsible for managing and monitoring detainee medical care, about half of which is provided by U.S. Public Health Service professionals and the rest by contracted medical staff. When doctors and nurses at the immigration compounds believe that detainees need more than the most basic treatment, they have to fax a request to the Washington office, where four nurses, working 9 to 4, East Coast time, five days a week, make the decisions.

Nurses who work on the front lines see the problems up close. "Dogs get better care in the dog pound," said Catherine Rouse, a contract nurse at an Arizona detention center who quit after two months last year because she saw what she regarded as "scary medicine" in the prison: patients taken off medications they needed and nurses doing tasks they were not qualified to do.

Neil Sampson, who ran the DIHS as interim director most of last year, left that job with serious questions about the government's commitment. Sampson said in an interview that ICE treated detainee health care "as an afterthought," reflecting what he called a failure of leadership and management at the Homeland Security Department. "They do not have a clear idea or philosophy of their approach to health care [for detainees]," he said. "It's a system failure, not a failure of individuals."

A new director for health services arrived six months ago, following a stretch when the agency was run first by Sampson and then by a second interim director. The new boss is LaMont W. Flanagan, who brought with him the credential of having been fired in 2003 by the state of Maryland for bad management and spending practices supervising detention and pretrial services. An audit found that Flanagan had signed off on payments of $145,000 for employee entertainment and other ill-advised expenditures. His reputation was such that the District of Columbia would not hire him for a juvenile-justice position.

and also see: Better Health Care Sought for Detained Immigrants, May 7/2008/ The New York Times by NINA BERNSTEIN and JULIA PRESTON

The head of a Congressional subcommittee looking into complaints of inadequate medical care in immigration detention announced on Tuesday that she had introduced legislation to set mandatory standards for care and to require that all deaths be reported to the Justice Department and Congress.

“This should not be part of the debate about illegal immigration,” the chairwoman, Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, said of the bill, which she introduced late last week. “This is about whether the government is conducting itself according to the basic minimum standards of civilization.”

...The bill would also require the secretary of the Homeland Security Department to report all deaths in immigration detention within 48 hours to the Justice Department’s inspector general as well as its own. Immigration officials would be required to submit a detailed report on such deaths to Congress every year.

“We are not talking about Cadillac health care here,” Ms. Lofgren said, “but the government is obligated to provide basic care. Many of those in immigration custody are there for minor violations, many for administrative and paperwork-related mistakes. Their detention should not be a death sentence.”
The writers of the story above and Rep. Zoe Lofgren are under the delusion that Americans care about the treatment of immigrants. Since immigrants are defined as being non-Americans they therefore under the present regime have no legal or human rights. Since 9/11 Americans have become more conservative in regard to immigration and especially towards illegal immigrants. Such considerations are purely discretionary .

And from Few details on immigrants who died in U.S. custodyThe International Herald Tribune May 5, 2008States take up immigration bills as Congress stays on sidelines By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service april 24, 2008

Word spread quickly inside the windowless walls of the Elizabeth Detention Center, an immigration jail in New Jersey: A detainee had fallen, injured his head and become incoherent. Guards had put him in solitary confinement, and late that night, an ambulance had taken him away more dead than alive.

But outside, for five days, no official notified the family of the detainee, Boubacar Bah, a 52-year-old tailor from Guinea who had overstayed a tourist visa. When frantic relatives located him at University Hospital in Newark on Feb. 5, 2007, he was in a coma after emergency surgery for a skull fracture and multiple brain hemorrhages. He died there four months later without ever waking up, leaving family members on two continents trying to find out why.

Bah's name is one of 66 on a government list of deaths that occurred in immigration custody from January 2004 to November 2007, when nearly a million people passed through.

and more questions are raised than are answered by the responses of officials in this matter:

...Along with 13 deaths cited as suicides and 14 as the result of cardiac ailments, it offers such causes as "undetermined" and "unwitnessed arrest, epilepsy." No one's nationality is given, some places of detention are omitted, and some names and birth dates seem garbled. As a result, many families could not be tracked down for this article.

But when they could be, they posed more disturbing questions.

In California, relatives of Walter Rodriguez-Castro, 28, said they were rebuffed when they tried to find out why his calls had stopped coming from the Kern County Jail in Bakersfield in April 2006. Then in June, his wife went to his scheduled hearing in San Francisco's immigration court and learned that he had been dead for many weeks, his body unclaimed in the county morgue.

The coroner found that Rodriguez-Castro, a mover from El Salvador in the country illegally, had died of undiagnosed meningitis and HIV, after days complaining of fever, stiff neck and vomiting. The cause of death on the government's list: "unresponsive."

Immigration authorities said on Friday that the case was now under review, but would not answer questions about it or other deaths on the list. Sergeant Ed Komin, a spokesman for the jail, said the death had been promptly reported to immigration officials, who were responsible for notifying families.

Four sons in another family, in Sacramento, described trying for days to get medical care for their father, Maya Nand, a 56-year-old legal immigrant from Fiji, at a detention center run by the Corrections Corporation in Eloy, Arizona Nand, an architectural draftsman, had been ailing when he was taken into custody on Jan. 13, 2005, apparently because his application for citizenship had been rejected, based on an earlier conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence. In collect calls, the sons said, he told them that despite his chest pains and breathing problems, doctors at the detention center did not take his condition seriously.

and on private contractors and immigration see: April 18, 2006 by The Progressive
Halliburton's Immigrant Detention Centers
by Ruth Conniff

and from Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps/by Peter Dale Scott/Global, February 6, 2006

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