Hey, have you somehow managed to make it to Tuesday without becoming horribly depressed about the state of country?

Well, don't worry, because that ends now. Project South, an anti-poverty advocacy group based in Georgia, has filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General (HSIG) about Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC), where private prison company LaSalle Corrections takes your tax dollars to house ICE detainees.

The complaint is beyond shocking, even by the standards of 2020. God protect the whistleblowers! But not the people who run private prisons, who are going straight to hell.

Based on the testimony of Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the facility, and interviews with immigrant detainees, the document describes conditions that violated basic human rights, and were then exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. Short-staffed because so many employees were out sick, LaSalle is alleged to have routinely skimped on care, serving its charges spoiled food, denying them insulin and HIV medication, and locking them up in filth and squalor. But it's the allegations of widespread sterilizations via hysterectomy, first picked up by Law & Crime, that are getting the most attention.

Wooten described one outside gynecologist who was known to medical staff as "a uterus collector" because "everybody he sees, he's taking all their uteruses out or he's taken their tubes out."


Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody. He's even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady [detained immigrant woman]. She was supposed to get her left ovary removed because it had a cyst on the left ovary; he took out the right one. She was upset. She had to go back to take out the left and she wound up with a total hysterectomy. She still wanted children—so she has to go back home now and tell her husband that she can't bear kids… she said she was not all the way out under anesthesia and heard him [doctor] tell the nurse that he took the wrong ovary.

Detainees confirm Wooten's account. One woman told Project South that she encountered five women in two months at the facility who'd had the procedure, describing it as an "experimental concentration camp" where detained women don't understand what has happened to them or why.

One detained immigrant reported to Project South that staff at ICDC and the doctor's office did not properly explain to her what procedure she was going to have done. She reported feeling scared and frustrated, saying it "felt like they were trying to mess with my body." When she asked what was being done to her body, she was given three different responses by three different individuals. She was originally told by the doctor that she had an ovarian cyst and was going to have a small twenty-minute procedure done drilling three small holes in her stomach to drain the cyst. The officer who was transporting her to the hospital told her that she was receiving a hysterectomy to have her womb removed. When the hospital refused to operate on her because her COVID-19 test came back positive for antibodies, she was transferred back to ICDC where the ICDC nurse said that the procedure she was going to have done entailed dilating her vagina and scraping tissue off. The nurse first told the detained immigrant she was going to get this procedure done because she had heavy bleeding, but then told her it was because she had a thick womb. The woman quickly responded that she never had heavy bleeding in her life and was never told by the doctor that she had a thick womb.

Wooten confirmed that neither the gynecologist nor the ICDC medical staff appear to have gotten real consent for an operation that renders these women sterile, sometimes explaining the procedure by "simply googling Spanish or by asking another detained immigrant to help interpret."

So, that is super horrible and depressing, and we are very definitely The Baddies. But the majority of this IG complaint relates to the way the staff at ICDC systematically failed to take precautions for COVID-19, both as pertains to immigrant detainees and employees at the facility. Wooten reports that employees were not issued appropriate PPE or told when detainees in their care had tested positive for COVID-19. In fact, the former Health Services Administrator died of coronavirus, which the facility claims she contracted at a "family barbecue," although Wooten insists the officer never went anywhere but work.

Detainees report being routinely refused COVID tests, despite reporting telltale symptoms like loss of sense of smell, and are "treated" with over-the-counter cold medicine and ibuprofen. If detainees test positive, or even sometimes if they dare to make too many requests of medical staff, they are placed in punitive solitary confinement without adequate hygiene products. The whole report is simply gruesome, there's no way to sugarcoat it.

Naturally, DHS has rushed to assure the public that they take their responsibilities seriously.

Haha, that's what passes for a joke these days. No, DHS has said they can't possibly comment, but will take a gratuitous swipe at the report's "anonymous" sources, telling Law & Crime:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not comment on matters presented to the Office of the Inspector General, which provides independent oversight and accountability within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results. That said, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.

Dawn Wooten's name is all over this report, but go off!

In summary and in conclusion, everyone at DHS belongs at the Hague, and we as Americans have forfeited our moral authority for a generation. The end.

[HSIG Complaint / Law & Crime]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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