Detention Should Not Be A Death Sentence
I don’t hate America, I don’t blame America first. I do think that if the government gets to cover up its own crimes, the crimes of its employees and negligence of companies contracted to perform services historically run directly by the government, then it has too much power over the people for whom it is charged with serving and protecting. It is supposed to be our government and not the government of the governors and their executors. I am also firmly of the opinion, that if the “world is my country, and to do good is my religion,” then the protected and served are also people who are not citizens nor legal residents. Anyone here, in the “Greatest Country in the World™” should be treated as a human being, a person with the rights granted by their Creator. I don’t think that anywhere in the founding documents that I have read is there a case for American exceptionalism in the discussion of rights.
If a person is detained for suspicion of a crime, they are still entitled to the right to proper medical care. Detention should not, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered the granting of the right to government to consider a person discarded. Under detention, a person may or may not have even been granted the right of trial to determine guilt or innocence. There is supposed to be a presumption of innocence in all cases:
- With respect to the critical facts of the case – whether the crime charged was committed and whether the defendant was the person who committed the crime – the state has the entire burden of proof.
- With respect to the critical facts of the case, the defendant does not have any burden of proof whatsoever. The defendant does not have to testify, call witnesses or present any other evidence, and if the defendant elects not to testify or present evidence, this decision cannot be used against them.
- The jury or judge is not to draw any negative inferences from the fact the defendant has been charged with a crime and is present in court and represented by an attorney. They must decide the case solely on evidence presented during the trial.
I’ve got news. A guard at an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement,) facility is not a judge nor a jury and although he or she needs to have a certain level of authority to maintain order for the protection of both the detainees and officials inside, that authority does not include denial of medical care.
The New York Times has run a few stories on detention facilities run by the Department of
Fatherland Homeland Security, and while the jury is still out on whether I am Canadian or USIcan, I am concerned that the government officials are not being independently investigated and punished where appropriate. I need some “Change I can believe in” here, and one of the things that is scary and needs to be changed is the concept that all people are our enemies until proven to be our friends, especially those who have broken some sort of immigration laws.
Another death there soon spurred another inquiry, and another scathing report was issued about the care provided by the private company, the Corrections Corporation of America.
But the government scrutiny did not add up to much for Felix Franklin Rodriguez-Torres, 36, an Ecuadorean construction worker who wound up in Eloy that fall as an unauthorized immigrant after being jailed for petty larceny in New York City. By mid-December, a fellow detainee told the man’s relatives, Mr. Rodriguez lay pleading for medical help on the floor of his cell, unable to move.
He died weeks later of testicular cancer, a typically fast-growing but treatable disease, which had gone undiagnosed and untreated during his two months at Eloy, which holds more than 1,500 detainees. And despite a high-level discussion of his case among federal immigration officials while he was dying — captured in e-mail messages between Washington and Arizona — his death on Jan. 18, 2007, was not listed on the roster of detention fatalities that the agency produced under pressure last year and updated in April.
His death, and the damning reports that preceded it, are coming to light now only through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. On Monday, after inquiries about Mr. Rodriguez’s death by The New York Times, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency added his name and nine others to the public roster — including another unrecorded detainee death at Eloy, in 2005.
Yes, I know that private enterprise is supposed to be more efficient that government. What happens if the needs of the payer and the needs of the customers are at odds? The needs of the payer are given first priority, and if the government says do it cheap then costs will be cut at the expense of lives.
The Obama administration has vowed to overhaul immigration detention, a haphazard network of privately run jails, federal centers and county cells where the government holds noncitizens while it tries to deport them.
But as the administration moves to increase oversight within the agency, the documents show how officials — some still in key positions — used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.
As one man lay dying of head injuries suffered in a New Jersey immigration jail in 2007, for example, a spokesman for the federal agency told The Times that he could learn nothing about the case from government authorities. In fact, the records show, the spokesman had alerted those officials to the reporter’s inquiry, and they conferred at length about sending the man back to Africa to avoid embarrassing publicity.
Because not embarrassing the agency is more important than preventing such deaths from recurring.
There’s more. I would like those concerned with the “sanctity of human life” to concentrate on these cases with the sort of fervor they use to punish women for getting pregnant. Of course, a fetus is a naturalized citizen by conception and more important than someone who is here illegally.