Immigrants keep dying in Trump’s ICE prisons


This 30 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Four Immigrants Have Died at Stewart ICE Facility in Georgia. Advocates Want It Shut Down

A 44-year-old immigrant from Mexico died last week at Stewart Detention Center, one of the largest immigration jails in the United States and one that has been plagued by allegations of neglect and abuse for years. Pedro Arriago-Santoya was the fourth person to die at Stewart in just two years and the seventh person to die while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October. An immigration judge had ordered Arriago-Santoya be deported in June. Instead, he was transferred to Stewart on July 10 as his removal proceedings continued. Two weeks later he was pronounced dead at a Georgia hospital. He had complained of abdominal pain and later went into cardiac arrest.

Between May 2017 and July 2018, three immigrants died while detained at Stewart—a private immigration jail owned by the megacorporation CoreCivic. We speak with Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at Project South and the former president of the National Lawyers Guild.

United States prisons horrors


This August 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Modern Day Debtors’ Prison in the Deep South

An SPLC lawsuit in Montgomery, Alabama, has stopped the jailing of indigent people who can’t pay traffic fines – a modern-day version of debtors’ prison that is finding new life across America. This is Harriet Cleveland’s story.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

America the Barbaric

6 April 2019

Rapes, murders, beatings, stabbings, mutilations and arson are rampant. Pleas for help, scrawled in blood, stain the walls from prisoners held in solitary confinement. Fifteen suicides have been recorded in the last 15 months.

This is not the description of a torture chamber in el-Sisi’s Egypt or Bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia. Nor is it about the abuse of detainees at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay or a CIA black site.

These are the nightmare conditions in the Alabama state-run prison system, described in a Justice Department report released this week. They constitute a gross violation of the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

More than 2,000 photos of abuse in one Alabama prison given to the media by the Southern Poverty Law Center in advance of the report’s release depict the gruesome reality of the conditions detailed in hundreds of interviews with prisoners and their families conducted by federal investigators over more than two years.

While particularly horrific, such conditions are by no means unique. They are repeated in different forms in the prisons of every state, county and city across the United States. More than 2.3 million people are packed like cattle into America’s overflowing system of state and federal prisons, local jails and immigration detention camps. Including those on probation or parole, nearly seven million Americans are caught up in what is absurdly called the “criminal justice system”.

The US accounts for more than one-quarter of the world’s incarcerated population. For every 100,000 residents, there are 698 people in detention. More than 540,000 of those held in jail on any given day have not been convicted of any crime. Many are kept in detention simply because they are too poor pay to pay the median bail of $10,000. Another half a million, one in five inmates, are serving long prison sentences for nonviolent drug convictions.

Researchers estimate that 61,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement on any given day, a form of incarceration that the UN has declared to be tantamount to torture. At least 4,000 of those held in complete isolation from the outside world suffer from severe mental illness. Confinement to these living coffins is known to drive prisoners to suicide.

While debtors’ prisons are officially outlawed, poor workers are routinely held for their debts. A mother in Indiana was detained for three days in February in a squalid jail alongside convicts because of an unpaid ambulance bill, which she had never received in the mail. Such stories are common.

Under the Trump administration, extending the policies developed by Obama, the federal government is waging a war on immigrants, holding thousands of men, women and children in degrading conditions. Some 77,000 people were detained in February for seeking to cross the southern border. Immigrant workers are being hunted down and arrested in their homes and at their work places.

The cruelty of the American government was on full display this week when 280 undocumented workers were detained by federal agents in Allen, Texas. It was the largest such raid in more than a decade.

Then there is the unending wave of police killings, with more than 1,000 people shot, tased or beaten to death every year on the streets of American cities. Criminal charges for police killings are rare and convictions almost unheard of. Cops are given a green light to kill, maim and brutalize with impunity.

With boundless hypocrisy, Democrats and Republicans proclaim their outrage over alleged human rights violations in whatever country the American ruling class is targeting for regime change or invasion. They proclaim one of the most cruel and unequal societies in the world, where the three richest Americans control more wealth than the bottom half of the population, to be a beacon of democracy to the world.

If the conditions that exist in US prisons were exposed in Russia or China, there would be a hue and cry in the press and the halls of Congress for economic sanctions and “humanitarian” military intervention that would resound in the media.

Fifty years ago, a report such as that exposing the conditions in Alabama prisons would have been met, even within sections of the political and media establishment, with shock and demands for action, but today it passes with barely a murmur.

The Democratic Party is silent because it is complicit in the vast retrogression in conditions in US prisons. President Bill Clinton signed the legislation that paved the way for a historic increase in the prison population. The Democrats oversee a prison system in California that was found by the Supreme Court in 2011 to be “cruel and unusual” and in violation of the Constitution.

The upper-middle class, self-obsessed layers in and around the Democratic Party are disinterested. The promoters of the #MeToo campaign in the media and academia have nothing to say about sexual violence in American prisons, nor about the violence inflicted on immigrants fleeing to the United States.

The media has made as little as possible of the report, with no coverage on the major nightly news programs. As with the photos of abuse at Abu Ghraib and the Senate report on CIA torture, there has been an effort to suppress information of what is happening in Alabama. The New York Times and other media outlets have chosen not to publish most of the photos documenting abuse and death.

In the end, this is their state. The conditions of American prisons, and the overall apparatus of violence, is a noxious expression of the reality of American “democracy”. The state apparatus will be utilized in the suppression of social and political opposition to the demands of finance capital. It is the real face of American capitalism.

United States prisoners made to work in Arctic cold


This 30 January 2019 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:

Deadly polar vortex making everyday tasks unbearable

Cities across the Midwest are scrambling to protect people from the deadly polar vortex that’s blasting the region. At least six deaths across the U.S. are connected to the winter storm. Tens of millions of Americans are at risk. DeMarco Morgan reports.

A viral photo of inmates shoveling snow outside a Chicago jail sparked social media outrage this week as the city deals with record-breaking low temperatures that have already killed people.

MIDWEST BLASTED BY ARCTIC FREEZE A blast of Arctic air powered by the polar vortex brought dangerous temperatures to a wide swath of the United States, from the Dakotas through Maine. The Midwest was hit hardest, with temperatures plunging below zero [Fahrenheit]. By nightfall, the mercury was hovering at 0 in Chicago, 7 in Detroit and minus 21 in Minneapolis. [Reuters]

AT LEAST 8 DEAD IN EXTREME FREEZE A blast of polar air enveloped the Midwest Wednesday and headed for the East, debilitating cities with some of the lowest temperatures in a generation and killing at least eight people. Chicago dropped to a low of around minus 23 and similar conditions were recorded in Milwaukee. Minneapolis recorded minus 27, while Sioux Falls, South Dakota, saw minus 25. [AP]

A blast of historic cold temperatures hit the US Midwest, with record lows for both daily high and low temperatures expected Wednesday and Thursday across the region. Wind-chills in parts of northern Minnesota and North Dakota reached negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 51 Celsius) and even lower. The US Postal Service suspended mail deliveries in ten states Wednesday and Thursday out of concern for the safety of mail delivery personnel: here.

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR DISMISSES COLD Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin responded to the deadly weather in his state by denouncing closing public schools. “I mean, what happens to America?” he said. “We’re getting soft.” [HuffPost]

Immigrants dying in Trump’s ICE prisons


This 11 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

As Hurricanes Approach Trump Caught Taking Money From FEMA To Give To ICE

You’re not gonna believe what Trump said today about Hurricane Florence. Cenk Uygur, Michael Shure, and John Iadarola break it down on The Young Turks.

“MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported Tuesday that the Trump administration transferred $9.8 million from FEMA’s budget to ICE, citing budget documents provided by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)”

Read more here.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

Twenty-two deaths reported in immigrant detention centers since Trump took office

8 January 2019

At least 22 immigrants have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Donald Trump took office in January of 2017, according to a review of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents by NBC News.

The deaths come as the Trump administration has escalated the assault on immigrants in the United States, increasing the number of people held in its sprawling network of some 200 jails and detention camps to 42,000 per day in 2018.

Under Trump the population of the immigrant prison network has risen 30 percent over the average under Obama and twice that under George W. Bush, filling many jails to capacity. The rapidly rising number of immigrants held in federal custody has contributed to the recent rise in deaths. Despite this, the administration has requested that the capacity be expanded to 51,000 as it continues its anti-immigrant rampage in 2019.

Reports of unsanitary conditions, spoiled food, abusive guards and lack of medical staff are common. Detainees are treated like convicted criminals and are frequently placed in solitary confinement regardless of their age or health. A report published by Human Rights Watch last year found that “dangerously substandard care in immigration detention” contributed to the deaths of 15 people in ICE custody between December 2015 and April 2017.

“You’ll see someone who is clearly an asylum seeker who came into custody with a serious medical condition, whether a heart condition or otherwise, and you have to ask, ‘Why is this person in jail?’” Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center, told NBC News. “There’s no reason for it.”

Ten deaths were recorded in 2017 and the 12 reported in 2018 matched the number of migrants who died in 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration. In total there have been 188 deaths in immigration detention centers since 2003 when DHS began to oversee the operation of ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This grim tally for the first two years of the Trump administration does not include the recent deaths of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin and 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, who both died after becoming ill in the custody of CBP last month. Nor does the total include Mariee Juarez, a one-year-old who died in early 2018 after being held in detention along with her mother. It also does not count those who have died or been killed shortly after their release or deportation.

The largest number of immigrants to die in US custody since 2017 were from Mexico (4), Cuba (4), Honduras (3) and Russia (2), with one each from Armenia, Eritrea, India, Vietnam, Iran, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Jamaica.

The Southern US state of Georgia had the highest number of deaths with four, followed by Florida, California and Texas which each recorded three deaths. Deaths were also reported in Louisiana, New York, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Washington.

A review of the circumstances leading to the death of each person in ICE custody reveals that most died as the result of criminal neglect or abuse.

Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a 33-year-old transgender woman from Honduras seeking asylum in the US, died in New Mexico in August 2018 after being arrested at the border in San Diego and shuffled around detention centers. Hernandez, who was HIV positive, became severely ill in ICE custody and did not receive any treatment for several days before being transferred to the hospital where she died. An independent autopsy found that she had been subjected to physical assault while in detention.

Sergio Alonso Lopez, a 55-year-old man from Mexico, died in February 2017 of internal bleeding after medical staff failed to give him several doses of the methadone he had been taking to treat his addiction.

At least five men died by suicide in US detention facilities in the last two years and a sixth was the victim of an apparent suicide after being transferred to Egyptian custody.

Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba, a 32-year-old asylum seeker from Nicaragua, died of suicide by hanging in March 2017 after being placed in solitary confinement at the Adelanto Detention Center in California. A review of his death found that despite becoming withdrawn and reporting hallucinations, Gonzalez-Gadba did not receive appropriate medical attention. A surprise visit by the inspector general to Adelanto in 2018 found nooses hanging in multiple cells.

Jeancarlo Jimenez-Joseph died of a suicide in May 2017 while in solitary confinement at a detention center in Georgia. A fellow detainee told investigators that he had heard Jimenez-Joseph tell guards that he was suffering from psychosis.

Zeresenay Ermias Testfatsion, a 34-year-old asylum seeker from the east African country of Eritrea, was found dead of an apparent suicide in the shower area of Cairo International Airport in Egypt. He had been transferred by ICE into the custody of the brutal Sisi dictatorship, notorious for its torture and murder of prisoners, for repatriation to Eritrea. Testfatsion had told immigration officials that he feared returning to his home country where citizens are conscripted into indefinite military service.

A recent report by the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) provides data on the dramatic increase in courthouse arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in New York state. According to the IDP report, courthouse arrests have increased by 1,700 percent since 2016, before President Donald Trump took office: here.

Under a service agreement with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, New Jersey, has been detaining immigrant workers in shocking squalor: here.

Activist Angela Davis interviewed


This 24 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Angela Davis on Running from the FBI, Lessons from Prison and How Aretha Franklin Got Her Free

For more than four decades, Angela Davis has been one of most influential activists and intellectuals in the United States. An icon of the black liberation movement, Davis’s work around issues of gender, race, class and prisons has influenced critical thought and social movements across several generations.

She is a leading advocate for prison abolition, a position informed by her own experience as a prisoner and fugitive on the FBI‘s top 10 most wanted list more than 40 years ago. Once caught, she faced the death penalty in California. After being acquitted, she has spent her life fighting to change the criminal justice system. Just before the midterm elections, Angela Davis sat down with Amy Goodman in Washington, D.C., at Busboys and Poets to tell her life story.

This 24 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

From 1968 to 2018: Angela Davis on Freedom Struggles Then and Now, and the Movements of the Future

Legendary scholar and activist Angela Davis‘s work around issues of gender, race, class and prisons has influenced critical thought and social movements across several generations. Amy Goodman sat down with her in Washington, D.C., in October to discuss freedom struggles over the past 50 years, and where people’s movements are going next.

This 24 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Angela Davis is a leading advocate for prison abolition, a position informed by her own experience as a prisoner and a fugitive on the FBI‘s top 10 wanted list more than 40 years ago. Once caught, she faced the death penalty in California. After being acquitted on all charges, she spent her life fighting to change the criminal justice system. Amy Goodman sat down with Angela Davis at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., in October to talk about the prison abolition movement.