Thursday, May 8, 2008

Deaths of ordinary immigrants puts Corrections Corporation of America on front page of NYT

Thirteen lose their lives behind CCA walls, some cases never previously made public

"Basic standards of decency and fairness... means lifting the veil"

If you have a loved one who was born outside the U.S. and is not yet a citizen here, please read the front-page Monday New York Times article about deaths in immigrant detention. If you live in Nashville, not only are your tax dollars paying to incarcerate non-criminals in some cases, but the name of your corporate neighbor Corrections Corporation of America is part of the story. And it's not the first time CCA's connection to the federal immigration bureaucracy enforcement is the subject of major media scrutiny. Just two months ago, the New Yorker put the spotlight on CCA for its former prison facilities which now house ordinary children and their families. And to my knowledge, this streak of bad press about a Nashville corporate citizen has still not been the subject of any investigative journalism in the Nashville papers, either in a story about CCA itself or in the context of the nomination of CCA in-house counsel Gus Puryear to the federal bench.

Put yourself or your loved one in the shoes of the detained immigrants and families featured in these stories.

Here are excerpts from Monday's front-page article:
Mr. Bah’s relatives never saw the internal records labeled “proprietary information — not for distribution” by the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the New Jersey detention center for the federal government.
Four days after the fall, tipped off by a detainee who called Mr. Bah’s roommate in Brooklyn, relatives rushed to the detention center to ask Corrections Corporation employees where he was.

“They wouldn’t give us any information,” said Lamine Dieng, an American citizen who teaches physics at Bronx Community College and is married to Mr. Bah’s cousin Khadidiatou.
The Public Health Service did not respond to questions, and the Corrections Corporation said medical decisions were the responsibility of the Public Health Service.
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, Ariz.
From an article focusing on the Nand family:
Mr. Nand, a legal immigrant from Fiji who was diabetic, had been calling his family with mounting desperation over a 10-day period, the sons said. Already ailing when he was abruptly taken into custody at the family’s home in Sacramento early in the morning of Jan. 13, 2005, he had deteriorated after a week at the Arizona detention center, which is run for the federal government by Corrections Corporation of America, a publicly traded prison company.
Asked about Mr. Nand’s treatment, Corrections Corporation officials said in a written statement that he had been medically screened when he arrived at the Eloy center, seen and treated “multiple times” by its medical staff, and taken to a hospital. According to a government list of deaths in immigration custody, Mr. Nand was one of five detainees to die at Eloy within a 26-month period; none of the deaths have previously been brought to public attention.
From another article in the series:
Privately run centers had 32 percent of the deaths, even though they housed only 19 percent of detainees over all, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

There are more than 300 detention centers around the country, but one private operator, the Corrections Corporation of America, had 13 deaths in its centers...
From the New York Times editorial on the series:
The government urgently needs to bring the detention system up to basic standards of decency and fairness. That means lifting the veil on detention centers — particularly the private jails and the state prisons and county jails that take detainees under federal contracts — and holding them to the same enforceable standards that apply to prisons.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, there has been little coverage of the connection between CCA's policy of secrecy that hides details concerning in-custody deaths and the man who enforces that policy -- CCA general counsel Gus Puryear, who's been nominated by President Bush for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge. To learn more about Mr. Puryear's nomination, visit:


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