Recent media reports of a brave former employee of the Irwin County Detention Center, blowing the whistle on abusive medical treatment of individuals held in Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in Georgia, has gone viral on all forms of media. This concern is well-founded, as the U.S. has a long history of medical abuse, including dangerous and unnecessary surgeries of vulnerable people, especially people of color.
The whistle blower’s report about wrongful hysterectomies and other surgeries was included in a broad-based complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General addressing a series of concerns about the facility’s handling of the Coronavirus threat, medical neglect, fraud, and rank abuse.
The complaint requests a complete investigation of the treatment of detained immigrants at the Irwin County Detention Center operated by the private prison operator, LaSalle Corrections. This complaint was filed only a few months after another ICE Immigration Detention Center, also operated by LaSalle Corrections, was reported to be using similar tactics.
The U.S. has a history of providing dangerous and unequal health treatment for people in its care, including eugenic treatment. The National Disability Rights Network’s (NDRN) concern is the impact of this abuse on all detainees, including some who will have disabilities and will face additional trauma through unnecessary procedures, lack of informed consent, and abuse.
Complaints such as this one demonstrate a critical need for regular, structured oversight by agencies independent of government and private interests. This oversight must result in concrete remedial action.
NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker states, “The Inspector General must complete a thorough, fact-based, and transparent investigation of the allegations included in this complaint, followed by timely and effective remedies. A system of regular oversight of these facilities is needed as well, to ensure safety and dignity for all people in U.S. custody.”
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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.