Detainees Expose Medical Neglect in 11/08 Death at Piedmont Regional Jail
Advocacy Groups Warn Against Plans for New Detention Center
English – Jeff Winder (434) 906-0421 firstname.lastname@example.org
Spanish – Sue Frankel-Streit (540) 717-1051
FARMVILLE, Virginia – As reported in today's New York Times,
immigrant detainees in Farmville's Piedmont Regional Jail have come
forward to expose conditions of medical neglect that contributed to
death of Guido Newborough in November of last year. Eyewitnesses
report that Newborough was in intense pain for two weeks, frequently
asking for medical attention. They maintain that he never received
that attention, but was instead knocked to the floor by guards and
dragged on his back to the isolation unit where he remained until he
suffered the massive heart attack and stroke that led to his death.
Jeff Winder of regional advocacy group The People United was contacted
by several detainees for help in getting the truth out. "They were
outraged when they saw the statement from ICE in the local newspaper,"
Winder said. "They are afraid of repercussions by ICE or by the jail
guards because they are speaking out, but were so moved by Guido
Newborough's death that they felt compelled to take the risk and
expose the conditions that exist in Piedmont."
The People United and other groups have been working in opposition to
plans by Farmville and the private company Immigration Centers of
America (ICA) to construct a new 1,000 bed, for-profit immigrant
detention center in Farmville. Despite the fact that ICA has no
experience in managing detention centers, Farmville town Manager
Gerald Spates has assured The People United that all is well because
"They plan to bring in key staff from the Piedmont Regional Jail."
Advocacy groups are not reassured by this assertion. "The medical
neglect in Piedmont Regional Jail is unconscionable," said Sue
Frankel-Streit, another organizer with the People United. "This is the
second time in two years that a detainee has died here amidst
allegations of medical neglect," she continued referring to another
New York Times article which reported that in 2006, detainee Abdouli
Sall died in the jail while huddled against a clothes dryer for warmth
after being denied his prescription medication.
News of the planned detention center has fueled the fear growing among
Virginia's immigrant families in the wake of increased ICE jobsite
raids over the past year. "Immigrants are here looking for work in
order to feed their children," Said Margarita Gonzales, a native of
Mexico, as she addressed the Farmville Town Council last month. "It's
not necessary to put us in jail. . . We hope that you will leave us
to live in peace. We're only trying to create secure lives for
ourselves, just as you are."
ICA has promised a windfall to Farmville's economy, but advocates warn
this may not pan out. "Last month, ICE cancelled its contract with a
detention center in Wyatt, RI after a scandal surrounding a death
similar to Guido Newborough's erupted there," said Winder. "Farmville
could find itself in the same situation - with a brand-new jail that
sits empty and the reputation of a prison town where suspicious deaths
Interviews are available with Piedmont detainees as well as immigrants
and citizens working against the proposed detention center from their
own communities of Tidewater, Richmond, Northern VA, Fredericksburg,
Charlottesville, Louisa, Harrisonburg and Lynchburg.
For more information visit http://www.thepeopleunited.org