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Immigrants Advocate for Reform at South Georgia Stewart Detention Center

07 Nov 2023, Jail News, Prisons, by brian

Stewart Detention Center takes the spotlight as immigrant detainees come together to advocate for their rights and improved conditions.

Immigrants Advocate for Reform at South Georgia Stewart Detention Center - Inmate Lookup

In South Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center, more than 200 immigrants actively seek better living conditions by petitioning the federal government. Throughout this year, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, has been grappling with multiple complaints. These include immigrants facing difficulties accessing prompt physical and mental healthcare and enduring poor living conditions. At the same time, advocates have been pressing for explanations regarding immigrant fatalities within the facility.

The petition outlines concerns, including reports of spoiled and burnt food leading to food poisoning, mold in pipes causing eye irritation, challenges in obtaining adequate medical care, and extended periods without hot water.

The non-profit organization Freedom for Immigrants has filed a federal civil rights complaint, in addition to the petition, with the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of Sopheak Pal, a current detainee at Stewart. The facility is allegedly in breach of national detention standards, according to the complaint. 

Jeff Migliozzi, a representative of Freedom for Immigrants, emphasizes the simplicity of the issues raised, such as ensuring edible, non-moldy food and access to hot water for personal hygiene and sanitary purposes. He also highlights that detainees like Pal, who have spoken out about these conditions, often face repercussions, but collective action by more detained immigrants would help the petition be heard.

Stewart Detention Center is operated by the private prison company CoreCivic. The director of public affairs, Ryan Gustin, has refuted the allegations, stating that the facility undergoes regular inspections, including mold checks, and that the cafeteria passed a random health inspection by the state in October. Gustin also asserted that the company is committed to providing sufficient round-the-clock medical coverage.

These allegations are not new, as a federal report revealed earlier this year that in 2017, experts commissioned by the federal government found Stewart non-compliant with medical care standards and one of the most unsanitary medical facilities they had encountered.

Migliozzi emphasized that the consistently dehumanizing conditions within detention centers are designed to wear down detainees and push them to self-deport, highlighting the profound challenges immigrants face inside these facilities.