At the beginning of the pandemic last year, people who were imprisoned at a private immigration prison in Arizona were holding a peaceful protest because there was a lack of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to the detainees. The facility however replied to them by throwing chemical agents at them. This was released on Thursday in a new report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General.
The report has some surveillance photos where immigrants who were being kept at CoreCivic’s La Palma Correctional Center (LPCC) in Eloy can be seen sitting on the floor in a common area. Many of them are seen sitting while holding their ankles and others have their arms over their knees. It was a peaceful protest and the photos prove that. There is also another photo that shows a dozen officers geared in riot gear surrounding the group of protesters. You can see one officer who is deploying the chemical stream into the group.
The report said, ”A letter signed by 182 LPCC detainees indicates the facility used pepper spray, pepper balls, and chemical agents, and punished protesting detainees with lengthy stays in segregation. We confirmed LPCC used chemical agents to end the protests. A detainee told us he suffered injuries from pepper balls fired by facility staff, but felt too intimidated to file a report about the incident through proper channels. Nonetheless, detainees filed six grievances with the facility about these incidents. The facility denied or rejected all six grievances.”
The report also stated that the inspectors found “serious concerns regarding detainee care and treatment. One detainee, who is a cancer patient, ran out of leukemia medication after the medical staff did not order a refill on time.” The detained person “was not aware of when the medication was running out or how long it would take medical staff to obtain a refill,” because imprisoned detainees are not allowed to carry their medications on their person.
The report said, “However, the detainee’s medical file shows that a health care provider incorrectly told the detainee it was the detainee’s failure to fill out our fill request that resulted in the interruption of his medication. Further, the sick call log revealed five entries where detainees sought refills on chronic care medication that the facility should have refilled automatically.”
Inspectors reported that detainees that were placed in segregation were abandoned. “We found the facility was not consistently providing required care, including no exchange of laundry and soiled bedding and clothing, no legal materials, no haircuts, limited recreation, no access to the commissary for detainees who are in administrative segregation, and no masks in response to COVID-19.” The facility “did not consistently record medication administration and daily medical visits for detainees in segregation,” hence the inspectors said they could not check if the appropriate medications were provided or not.
American Immigration Council Policy Director Jorge Loweree told CNN, “Fundamentally, it’s time to start closing some of these facilities, starting with the ones with the most egregious track record. This report outlines the inability of people with chronic illnesses to obtain the necessary medication to treat those illnesses. That’s inexcusable.”