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Medical Crisis in Immigrant Detention Facilities

The crisis at the border is well documented. So, too, are the atrocities that are routinely committed by ICE and CBP on the refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. There is no need to rehash those here. Instead, we will focus on something that is not getting as much attention as it deserves, the medical neglect of detainees. This is something that Collins & Collins, P.C. has been following with great interest for some time. Suffice it to say that there is no real medical care to speak of that is being provided to these folks. As a result, it is to be expected that many of the detainees will suffer extreme and permanent injuries as a result of their detention.

Profits are Driving Policy

A trip down memory lane does not have to venture far to understand at least one side of what’s happening at the border. As recent as 2016, the Department of Justice had decided to begin phasing out private prison contractors. It is no coincidence that this was abruptly reversed in 2017 as campaign coffers filled with contributions from private corrections industry players, including medical providers.

The math is pretty simple on the private contractor side: obtain huge contracts for the provision of services + provide as few services as possible to maximize profit. To justify the contracts, there have to be bodies in the detention and prison facilities. The more bodies, the greater the profits. The level of services does not increase although the body count does. This is true both with the prison contract as well as the medical contractors. The two are closely related.

Prisons and other correctional facilities are hotbeds of disease and infections. This is due to close confinement and overcrowding. Disease and infection will run rampant under those conditions. There are only a few options for preventing the spread of disease: stop the overcrowding, improve the facilities and provide adequate prevention, treatment and management of disease and infection when they occur. Unfortunately, this is not the response even in the more “humane” settings of NMCD state correctional facilities. It is most certainly not the case in immigration detention.

The end result is that perfectly healthy people will enter while permanently damaged people will eventually be released. This is the America that we live in now. We could stop there, throw up our hands, and say that’s just the way it is. Or we can take action. Collins & Collins, P.C. chooses the path of action.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Against Private Prison Contractors

Sadly, policy regarding refugees and other immigrants will likely only get worse until there is new leadership at the top. Whether this happens or not will depend upon the conscience of Americans. As such, the way to change behavior on the ground, is to disincentivize the callous, cruel and intentionally inhumane behavior of private prison providers. The only way to do this is by changing the cost benefit calculations. In other words, make it more expensive to neglect the refugees and other immigrants than it is to provide the constitutionally minimal services that private contractors are paid to provide. As they say, “money talks…”. Unfortunately, money in this case talks only when given voice through the courts.

In short, the only recourse is to go to the courts and this means lawsuits against the private contractors that have chosen profits over the health and safety of refugees and other immigrant detainees.

Action Items

If you, a family member or other loved one is fearful for the health and safety of a detainee, gather as much evidence as you can on your own. Then contact an attorney. If you have been a detainee, report what you have seen. If you are a non-immigrant prisoner housed with immigrant detainees, let your attorneys know what’s happening. Try to provide names and identification numbers for those immigrant detainees that are suffering severe medical neglect. Keep in mind that non-attorney phone calls are recorded so it is in your own best interest to report these situations during attorney-client communications which are protected from recording.

Collins & Collins, P.C. will be happy to review your situation. We cannot take every case, but we do what we can to help. We can be reached at 505.242.5958.

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