Nazi Dentist From 'Marathon Man' Would Be Step Up From Conditions In Private ICE Prison
The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General's office is sure acting like it takes "following the rules" seriously lately. Monday, we learned the IG had determined Trump's family separation policy was a horrible clusterfuck from Day One. Now the Washington Post reports on yet another DHS IG report, this one detailing the casually horrifying conditions in a private prison that houses undocumented immigrants for ICE while their immigration cases slowly move forward. Among other fun stuff, the IG's document review and an unannounced inspection in May of this year discovered indifferent medical care, guards ignoring twisted sheets hung from air vents that could be used as nooses, and such crappy dental care that several detainees lost teeth while waiting to be seen by a dentist. Oh, yes, and then there was the disabled guy who was left alone in his wheelchair for nine day and never got any help to get into bed.
Oh, but you can't blame Trump -- some of the problems go back to 2014, so nobody's allowed to say ICE and for-profit prisons have always sucked, because something something liberal hypocrisy.
The September 27 IG report looks at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, which is run by private prison giant GEO Group. WaPo notes GEO "owns and operates 71 federal prisons and detention centers with a combined total of 75,500 beds," but doesn't mention that GEO also handed Donald Trump's campaign assloads of cash, albeit none literally delivered via ass in the best Papillon style.
By pure coincidence, WaPo's story on terrible conditions at Adelanto ran just one day after the New York Times published a major piece on how immigration detention has become a cash cow for private prisons. We aren't ready to say Trump's immigration policy is driven by the money to be made in warehousing undocumented migrants, because there are so many True Believers in the Deport Everybody agenda. But the fact that it's generating money for campaign donors is a nice side benefit.
We should point out that while this is a prison, the detainees haven't been convicted of crimes -- they're all being held because their immigration cases are waiting to be addressed. Some are waiting on an asylum decision, others fighting deportation on other grounds. Those in "disciplinary segregation" are there for breaking rules while being held, not for doing crimes outside. Still, Donald Trump knows in his head they could all be rapists and murderers.
Trump will be delighted to learn the nearly 2,000 detainees at Adelanto aren't whooping it up in luxury, or even minimally decent conditions, even though they're only civil detainees:
The report details numerous alleged instances of substandard care and neglect by jailers who "prematurely and inappropriately" locked detainees in segregation cells without proper review, the report found, actions that posed "a significant threat" to detainees' rights and their mental and physical health.
The auditors found gross violations of health and safety standards, including detainees forced to wait weeks or months to see a doctor, the report says. Basic dental care was nonexistent, it notes. With only two dentists on staff, services at the facility were so poor that inspectors could not find records of detainees receiving cleanings or fillings in the past four years.
You Have A Talent For Causing Things Pain!
The report points out the Adelanto facility played a clever semantic game with an ICE directive that all detainees begin receiving dental care, "including checkups, cleanings, and procedures, after an individual has been in detention for 6 months." To avoid providing any dental care at all, Adelanto didn't include time spent at other ICE facilities, and only deemed inmates eligible for care starting six months after being transferred to Adelanto -- and at that point, they didn't get care, either. They got to go on a waiting list, after which most STILL received no dental treatment: "Records indicated and center staff corroborated that the center was waiting for detainees to leave rather than providing cleanings."
Our review of all requests for fillings since 2014 also found that although the center's two dentists identified cavities and placed detainees on a waitlist for fillings, no detainees have received fillings in the last 4 years. One detainee we interviewed reported having multiple teeth fall out while waiting more than 2 years for cavities to be filled. When we asked one of the dentists why fillings were not performed, he said he barely has time to do cleanings and screening, so as a result he does not do fillings.
It's like in that old Beatles song: Boy, you've got two caries that wait.
Thank heavens the dentist at least offered some relief: Fillings were too much trouble, but he could manage extractions, which he recommended regularly. Mind you, detainees reported waits of up to eight months even to have a tooth yanked, and one told the inspectors the wrong tooth got pulled; written records backed up the testimony.
Another dentist, truly a man of Republican Individual Responsibility science, explained to inspectors that if detainees' teeth rot out, they have only themselves to blame:
The dentist dismissed the necessity of fillings if patients commit to brushing and flossing. Floss is only available through detainee commissary accounts, but the dentist suggested detainees could use string from their socks to floss if they were dedicated to dental hygiene.
We'll assume the dentist then went back to reminiscing about how he wished all patients were as happy with their treatment as Jack Nicholson in the original Little Shop of Horrors.
Then there was the medical treatment, which was equally cavalier. Again, long waits for doctor visits, and frequent cancellations, after which the detainees went back on a waiting list. The report cites another internal investigation that identified 60 to 80 doctor visit cancellations due to an unavailability of contract guards "to take detainees from their cells to their appointments." Since 2015, three "detainee death reviews" have cited "medical care deficiencies related to providing necessary and adequate care in a timely manner." Somewhere, Steve King has to be happy, because we're finally imposing the death penalty for illegal border crossings.
The report also noted some truly remarkable achievements in "medical care" for detainees in "disciplinary segregation":
[We] observed two doctors walking through disciplinary segregation and stamping their name on the detainee records, which hang outside each detainee's cell, indicating that they visited with the detainee. However, we observed them doing so without having any contact with 10 of the 14 detainees in disciplinary segregation. For the four detainees a doctor did speak with, the doctor asked if the detainee was "ok" in English, not necessarily a language the detainee understood. We confirmed with guards that these four detainees were non-English speakers, and the doctor left without any acknowledgment or response from the detainee.
Not Fake Noose
Oh, and let's not forget the "nooses," which is what detainees and guards all call sheets twisted into a ropelike thing and hung up inside cells. Although the photos in the report don't show any actually fashioned into a hangman's knot, the things have been used that way. And although they're not allowed by ICE rules -- because Jesus, suicide danger much? -- the guards don't seem too worried about them, because bedsheets can be very versatile and not necessarily self-hangy. Only sometimes:
In case you're wondering, yes, there was a suicide at Adelanto in 2017, and attempts are not infrequent.
Then there's the case of the guy in the wheelchair, who had asked to be placed in "administrative segregation" -- the ICE equivalent of general population -- but got held in "disciplinary segregation" because of "an unrelated behavioral problem in administrative segregation at the time of transfer." The poor bastard sat in his wheelchair for nine days, according to a file review, but lucky for him, the horror show was interrupted when the inspectors showed up:
During our visit, we saw that the bedding and toiletries were still in the bag from his arrival. We also observed medical staff just looking in his cell and stamping his medical visitation sheet rather than evaluating the detainee, as required by ICE standards. After our notification, the Medical Health Administrator moved the detainee from segregation to medical for observation.
The inspectors also "encountered a blind, limited English proficient detainee in disciplinary segregation but found the center had no auxiliary aids or translated materials for the detainee to read or understand documents he was given." Other detainees also said they couldn't understand documents saying why they were in disciplinary segregation, although ICE disputed that, insisting translation help is available. Maybe with a waiting list, huh?
The report says ICE "concurred" with the recommendation to knock it off with the "nooses," to review the process for putting prisoners in "disciplinary segregation," and to fix medical care, so we bet everything will be in tip-top shape for the next surprise inspection, if Adelanto ever faces another. Considering the way the Inspector General has been poking around like liberal muckraking journalists, we wouldn't be at all surprised if the office's budget were mysteriously zeroed out and transferred to fund ICE's detention and deportation programs.
It's a shitfuck of a week, and it's going to get worse. Help us out with some money and love, if you are able!
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.