Inspector General: Mississippi ICE detention center violated COVID-19 protocols

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NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi jail is correcting seven problems found by federal investigators looking into how it handles immigrants in custody.

Inspections of the Adams County Correctional Center, which is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Natchez, took place for two months starting in January, according to a U.S. Office of Inspector General report obtained by the Clarion Ledger.

The report found the jail needed a better system to track grievances from inmates, ensure COVID-19 social distancing rules are followed, provide better access to laundry, legal materials and recreation time to inmates segregated from the general population and provide better emergency health care

The emergency care problems were spotlighted in December when an inmate who complained of pain in his chest and arms was examined and released. He collapsed and died while waiting to return to his cell, the report said.

Surveillance video from the jail showed immigrants in custody not wearing one of the two cloth masks provided or staying at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart. The jail had 128 COVID-19 cases, according to the report.

In May, several immigrants rights groups filed a civil rights and liberties complaint against the detention center, saying the jail was endangering the lives of inmates by ignoring COVID-19 safety procedures.

The report found the jail had resolved five of the the seven issues, including the COVID-19 and emergency medical care problems.

The jail still needs to establish a system to make sure federal officials respond to requests quickly and update the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s contract with the jail to better identify what he detention center needs to do for inmates there for immigration violations, according to the report.

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