Middle East

Nooses found in cells at US immigration centre

Poor conditions found in surprise inspection at largest detention site for immigrants in California

Adelanto Detention Centre.

Los Angeles: Inadequate medical care, improper segregation and even nooses found in cells are among “serious issues” found in a surprise inspection at the largest detention site for immigrants in California.

The US Department of Homeland Security released Tuesday the results of a visit by the Office of the Inspector General to the detention site in Adelanto, California.

The site, located some 150 kilometres northeast of Los Angeles, holds 1,940 male and female adult immigrants. Its managed by The Geo Group, a government contractor that runs privately run prisons and detention sites.

“We identified a number of serious issues” that violate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) standards that “pose significant health and safety risks at the facility,” said the report, dated September 27.

Inspectors found nooses made from bed sheets hanging from air vents in 15 of 20 cells for male detainees.

The report said that in March 2017, a 32 year-old man choked himself to death with sheets in his cell, and that seven suicide attempts were reported between December 2016 and July 2017.

“ICEs lack of response to address this matter at the Adelanto Centre shows a disregard for detainee health and safety,” the report said.

Nine days in a wheelchair

The report also noted mistakes in segregating detainees for disciplinary or administrative reasons.

In one case, a disabled detainee was mistakenly held in disciplinary segregation for nine days, during which time he “never left his wheelchair to sleep in a bed or brush his teeth.”

The violation of segregation standards “pose a significant threat to maintaining detainee rights and ensuring their mental and physical well-being.”

The inspectors also saw contract guards move detainees in handcuffs and shackles, contravening ICE regulations.

The physical restraints gives “the appearance of criminal, rather than civil, custody.”

The report also noted the lack of proper medical and dental care.

Detainees frequently wait for weeks and even months to see a doctor or a dentist, and often the appointments are cancelled with no explanation.

One detainee reported waiting eight months to have a tooth pulled, while another said the dentist pulled the wrong tooth.

Attached to the report was a letter from ICE saying that starting on October 18 it will inspect the Adelanto site “to ensure corrective actions are completed.”