Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Detainees Are People, So Treat Them as Such

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Detainees Are People, So Treat Them as Such

Article excerpt

In a time when more and more undocumented immigrants are being swept off the streets and warehoused, in some cases like common criminals, the Department of Homeland Security has finally begun to more closely monitor the situation, and take a look at the places where these individuals are being held. Last week, the Hudson County jail – where numerous red flares concerning treatment of detainees have gone up over the last several months – was one of four holding facilities cited by the department's Office of Inspector General for repeatedly exposing immigrants to inhumane treatment.

As we have said many times before, undocumented immigrants, in the great majority of cases, are not criminals. They are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. This is America. Basic human rights matter, regardless of a person's immigration status.

In a 19-page report, inspectors found that at the four detention facilities targeted, some detainees had been denied prompt medical care, and been served food that had not been properly handled. The inspections found that at some facilities medical care was delayed and not properly documented, that detainees had inadequate access to hygienic supplies like toilet paper and toothpaste, and that inmates had been served spoiled food.

"We observed spoiled wilted, and moldy produce and other food in kitchen refrigerators, as well as food past its expiration date," reads the report on the four facilities, including the Hudson County Corrections and Rehabilitation Center in Kearny. "We also found expired frozen food, including meat without labels indicating when it had begun thawing or the date by which it must be used."

Last summer, The Record reported on a host of alleged abuses and questionable medical care at the Kearny facility. That reporting, by Staff Writers Monsy Alvarado and Hannan Adely, also recounted the sad, tragic case of Carlos Mejia-Bonilla, a 44-year-old detainee from El Salvador who was rushed from the Hudson County jail to Jersey City Medical Center on June 9, and died the following day. …

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