In a letter addressed to Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and other officials immigrant advocacy groups including Immigration Equality, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, AL Otro Lado, and the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee demanded the release of medically vulnerable detainees who are in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield.
The letter notes detainees have said Winn Correctional Center staff have not taken the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus inside the facility.
“Our clients at Winn are reporting troubling conditions specific to the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the letter. “They include lack of medical attention for a detainee who had a days long fever, a symptom of COVID-19, crowded conditions, and a lack of sanitation supplies for detainees and staff alike.”
The letter notes one detainee has said staff “had not addressed COVID-19 concerns with immigrant detainees, including failing to instruct detainees on hand washing and social distancing.” The letter also indicates hand sanitizer is “not available.”
“Some dormitories have 50 people in the same room sharing one sink, one toilet and no meaningful access to medical attention or sanitation,” reads the letter.
The letter also documents “widespread abuse and mistreatment of individuals” at the facility.
“The above information reflects the egregious conditions at the Winn Correctional Center and reveals blatant disregard for basic human safety,” reads the letter. “The above-mentioned individuals have submitted regular complaints to DHS, all of which remain unaddressed. In essence, these asylum-seekers are indefinitely trapped in a detention center where they are at a heightened risk of medical negligence, harassment and disproportionate systemic violence.”
“Social distancing at Winn is virtually impossible,” reads the letter. “Winn is primed to have COVID-19 spread through the detained population like wildfire. It will be devastating and deadly to the detainees as well as the correctional officers who are exposed and then go home to families and out into the community. Medically vulnerable detainees, and those who are otherwise immunocompromised, should be released immediately,” the letter demands.
LaSalle Corrections operates the facility and did not return calls to the Winn Parish Journal. Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan who “oversees” Winn Correctional Center did not return the Winn Parish Journal’s request for comment.
*A WPJ reporter has reviewed the document sited in this article.