Jean Jimenez-Joseph, 27, a Panamanian national, was found dead in his cell Monday at the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Ga.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jimenez-Joseph took his own life.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports he had been held in solitary confinement for 19 days after he jumped from the second floor a walkway. ICE says he was detained and was in immigration removal proceedings after a felony conviction for larceny of a motor vehicle. ICE said he is he seventh person in ICE custody to die in fiscal year 2017, and the first death at the Stewart Detention Center in eight years.
The facility is private and run by Corrections Corporation of America.
“Locked up in isolation, Jimenez-Joseph regrettably experienced the nightmare that is the Stewart Detention Center,” Azadeh Shahshahani of Project South and Georgia Detention Watch said in a press release. “The use of solitary is rampant at Stewart. We know that people are put in segregation for expressing suicidal thoughts or as retaliation for complaining about conditions – this abusive practice coupled with woefully inadequate medical and mental health services is a lethal combination.”
The Detention Watch Network has raised concerns about the conditions at the facility in the past and has recommended closing it. A Detention Watch report on the facility accused the administrators of providing inadequate medical care and raised concerns about detainees rights to due process and living conditions there. To see the full report, click here. A 2012 report by the ACLU, called “Prisoners of Profit,” also singled out the detention center and their work is cited in Detention Watch’s report.
“The ACLU of Georgia is particularly troubled by Stewart’s remote location that effectively cuts detainees off from attorneys and family, consistent accounts of substandard living conditions including spoiled food and non-potable water, and insufficient physical and mental health care staffing levels,” the report says. To see the full report, click here.
At a recent meeting with the immigrant community in Clarkston, ICE officials defended the quality of their detention facilities stating “our standards are better than most county jails in the U.S.”