ICE terminates use of Georgia facility at the Hysterectomy Allegation Center

This article features our customer Dawn Wooten and was originally published here.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday morning that it would cease using two facilities, including the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, where a whistleblower claims a doctor has had unwanted hysterectomies and other medical procedures without consent carried out.

According to a statement from DHS, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas instructed Tae Johnson, Acting Secretary for Immigration and Customs Control (ICE), to prepare to cease using the facility “as soon as possible.” The Irwin County Detention Center is operated by La Salle Corrections, a private company. Preparations, according to DHS, include “preserving evidence for ongoing investigations, relocating ICE personnel if necessary, and transferring detained non-citizens whose continued detention is still required to support our national security, public security and border security mission.” to reach”.

“We are committed to sustainably improving our detention system for civil immigrants,” Mayorkas said in a public statement. “This is an important first step towards achieving that goal. DHS detention facilities and the treatment of people in these facilities are subject to our health and safety standards. Where we find they fall short, we will continue to take action as we do today. “

The second facility, the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, is also at the center of allegations of ill-treatment and is currently under federal investigation. The DHS announced Thursday that it was terminating its contract with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), which oversees the facility. A 2020 investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General found that the BCSO violated the civil rights of immigrant detainees during an incident on May 1, 2020. That day, detainees refused to consent to testing and isolation of COVID-19, according to a report by the Attorney General, released in December 2020, was faced with “excessive and disproportionate” violence, including a lightning grenade, pepper ball thrower, pepper spray cans, shields and canines.

“Shame on the Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas for setting his left political agenda over public safety by terminating the Bristol County’s sheriff’s office contracts with immigration and customs, ”Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said in a statement opposite TIME. “This is nothing more than a political success achieved by Sec. Mayorkas, the Biden administration, and other anti-law enforcement groups to punish outspoken critics and advance their partisan agenda to make political points. “

La Salle Corrections did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment on the DHS’s decision to end the use of the facilities.

La Salle has previously dismissed malpractice claims at the Irwin County Detention Center. “It is well known that the ICDC has a proven track record of providing high quality, culturally engaging services in a safe and humane environment and that the health and wellbeing of those cared for by the ICDC are of paramount importance,” said Scott Sutterfield, spokesman for La Salle. in December compared to TIME declaration 2020.

According to the DHS, the prisoners remaining in both facilities will be transferred. Although ICE did not provide the current incarcerated populations at each of the facilities, the agency said the average daily population at the Irwin County Detention Center so far this fiscal year has been 287 people and the Massachusetts facility has an average of 18 people.

Immigrant lawyers, activists and democratic leaders, including the ACLU and MP Pramila Jayapal, who have long called for these facilities to close, praise the decision.

“We are excited about this development,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, director of legal and legal affairs at Project South, in a statement to TIME. Project South, an Atlanta-based nonprofit law and advocacy organization, is one of the organizations that released Dawn Wooten’s whistleblower testimony, which contains allegations that a doctor performed undesirable gynecological procedures on more than a dozen women incarcerated in Irwin . “Because of its well-documented history of human rights abuses, Irwin should have been shut down a long time ago. We will not rest until the women who have been medically ill-treated in Irwin have some measure of reparation and compensation. And until ICE and the prison society LaSalle are held responsible for the abuses taking place. “

Shahshahani is also a fellow councilor in a class action lawsuit against ICE filed on behalf of the women imprisoned in Irwin in December 2020.

In a public statement by DHS, Acting ICE Director Johnson said: “ICE operates a nationwide system of detention facilities for non-citizens whose detention is required by law or who pose a public safety or flight risk. ICE will continue to ensure that there is sufficient detention space to keep non-citizens adequately. “