Today’s topic is the situation of incarcerated and detained women and the CoronaVirus. The pandemic and its impacts are the main news these days. We have seen and heard about people from all walks of life being infected. The mainstream outlets regularly report the impacts on famous people but we hear far too little about those in this country considered not important not to mention about whole countries considered inconsequential. Among the “not important” are the 2.3 million people in nearly 2000 state prisons, 110 federal prisons, nearly 2000 juvenile correctional facilities, over 300 local jails, 218 immigration detention facilities, and 80 Indian Country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories like Guam and Puerto Rico.
Women at the Irwin County Detention Center in
Georgia hold signs asking for help.
Screenshot: The Intercept
Among the 2.3 million are 40 thousand ICE detainees in facilities across the country. According to federal government data, from April 2019, California detains the fourth highest number of people per day, after Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. Over 70 percent of people are held in privately-run immigrant prisons. The GEO Group receives more taxpayer dollars for immigration detention than any other ICE contractor followed by Corrections Corporation of America/CoreCivic. Also important to keep in mind that incarcerating immigrants in not limited to the US. Global Detention Project
(GDP) estimates that there have been at least 2,000 facilities used for immigration-related purposes in approximately 100 different countries over the last decade. We hear even less about women detainees.
In the current pandemic, incarcerated people are among the highest risk group. According to the recent report in Intercept
, “Immigrants in ICE detention nationwide are intensely afraid of contracting Covid-19 and two Department of Homeland Security doctors warned Congress
that the facilities pose ‘an imminent risk to the health and safety of immigrant detainees’” because of overcrowding and filth inside and to the public as well.
During today’s show you will be listening to Ana Alicia Huerta, Staff Attorney for Removal Defense Project of the United Farm Workers Foundation, which provides legal services and representation to folks at Mesa Verde. We will also hear from Leticia Hernandez, whose mother is currently detained at Mesa Verde. On March 11, the ACLU wrote to ICE office in San Francisco because of reported “shortages of cleaning and personal hygiene supplies, including bleach and other disinfectant products, shampoo, and soap. Several people detained at Mesa Verde have reported that to obtain personal hygiene products they must purchase them from the commissary at a high cost — thus, preventing many individuals from accessing these basic necessities. These deficiencies leave detainees at Mesa Verde at increased risk of contracting communicable diseases.” The ACLU implored ICE to “to immediately develop evidence-based and proactive plans for the prevention and management of COVID-19….”
We also will be in conversation with Ny Nourn, who experienced the “seamless” transfer from prison to ICE detention facility.
Click here to listen to the show. 59:50 min
Today’s program was produced by Margo Okazawa-Rey. You can reach Margo at [email protected].