Monday, May 22, 2017

Immigrant who committed suicide under ICE custody had been in solitary confinement for 19 days (gabe Ortiz) · Thursday, May 18, 2017, 10:57 am

More details have emerged about the suicide of Jean Jimenez-Joseph, the seventh immigrant to die this year while under ICE custody. Jimenez-Joseph was found unresponsive in his cell by “self-inflicted strangulation”—the headline from ICE’s statement read that he “passed away”—and was pronounced dead at a Georgia hospital. But according to new information from officials, Jimenez-Joseph had been kept in solitary confinement for nearly two weeks prior to his death:

Jimenez was kept in solitary confinement for 19 days, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which is investigating the case. An ICE spokesperson told ThinkProgress Tuesday Jimenez had been placed in disciplinary segregation twice: once between April 13 and 18 for fighting with another detainee and a second time on April 27 for violating facility rules. His isolation was extended after a second disciplinary violation.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution further reported that Jimenez was placed in solitary confinement after he was “observed jumping off a second floor walkway at Stewart.” Jimenez’s isolation was extended for three days after he exposed himself to a nurse, the publication added.

The ICE spokesperson said Jimenez was scheduled to be released from disciplinary segregation this week.

Despite the fact that the ACLU has said that solitary confinement “is fundamentally inhumane,” ICE guidelines at the facility where Jimenez-Joseph died state that “people may be placed in medical isolation if they are at ‘high risk for violent behavior because of a mental health condition,’ but such isolation should not be used for punitive purposes.” But according to an immigrant rights group, that’s exactly what’s been happening at the facility, with mental health resources at Stewart Detention Center “minimal”:

“We found that solitary was often used as a means of punishing hunger strikers and others who protested the detention conditions — as well as minimal access to mental care services,” Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director at Project South, told ThinkProgress on Tuesday. “There are no mental health doctors at the facility.”

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