Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hunger Strike for Deaths at Detention Center

PHOENIX, AZ (PR) - In response to a 200-person hunger strike in the Eloy Detention Center launched this previous weekend, Representative Raul Grijalva has called for an immediate Department of Justice investigation into two recent deaths at the facility, as well as allegations of ongoing abuse by guards.

In his letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Rep. Grijalva wrote, “I am alarmed at reports that not one, but two detainees have died while in custody at Eloy Detention Center. The fact that some this information is seeping out of the seams, as opposed to being reported and addressed outright, only furthers the concerns. We are not learning of these abuses – and one case, not learning of the death at all – through official channels. We are only hearing from the detainees inside.”

Francisca Porchas from Puente Arizona, says, “We applaud Representative Grijalva for taking a stand for justice by calling for an investigation into the recent deaths and ongoing abuses at Eloy. We hope that he will also visit Eloy himself in order to speak to detainees who have directly witnessed these events. We continue to stand with the people detained in Eloy who are calling on ICE to begin negotiations with around their demands for better treatment. Detention is cruel and inhumane: it’s time to end it once and for all, starting with the facility in Eloy.”

Congressman Grijalva (D-AZ) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting a thorough and public investigation into allegations of mistreatment of detainees at Eloy Detention Center outside of Phoenix, Arizona, which lead to the deaths of two detainees. José de Jesús Deniz-Sahagún and a second un-named man reportedly faced abusive treatment, including beatings, tazings and solitary confinement while at the for-profit detention center contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Both men died while in custody.

“Eloy Detention Center is in the business of detaining people for profit, which is troubling enough. But where transgressions occur, accountability must follow. Attorney General Lynch is a stalwart advocate for justice, and I am confident that her department will get to the bottom of this in an open and accessible way.”

ICE has confirmed four fatalities of detainees in their customs so far in 2015.


Puente Arizona has obtained the autopsy report of Jose de Jesus Deniz-Sahagun, whose death in the Eloy Detention Center on May 20, 2015, has incited protests inside and outside of detention and a congressional call for a Department of Justice investigation.

The report deems Deniz-Sahagun’s death a suicide, but advocates are calling for a second review of the findings, and public release of footage from his cell cited in the report. In particular, questions remaind about the trauma reported to his head, as well as an over 30 minutes response time for emergency medical services, despite the fact that Jose de Jesus was reportedly being checked every 15 minutes for suicide watch.

Francisca Porchas from Puente, says, “We mourn the death of Jose de Jesus and will continue to demand justice for him, others who have died in Eloy, and all those subjected to the ongoing abuse, neglect, and terror that happens there. Recently, the murders of black and brown people because of law enforcement that have happened on our streets have made national news. Is it any stretch to believe they are also killing our people, via direct assault or medical neglect, behind the walls and bars of detention facilities? ”

Eloy Detention Center
Customer base: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Facility Type: Minimum/Medium-Security, Owned since 1994 by CCA.

Michael J. Donahue was named warden at Eloy Detention Center in 2015. He previously served as warden at Hardeman County Correctional Center and West Tennessee Detention Facility. Donahue joined CCA in 2009 as an assistant warden at Florence Correctional Center and then transferred to Red Rock Correctional Center as assistant warden.

Before joining CCA, Donahue worked for Connecticut Department of Correction where he started as a correctional officer and held several management positions including warden and lead warden.

He retired from the state of Connecticut after 23 years of service. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration from the University of New Haven, and an executive certification from the American Correctional Association.

Founded as Corrections Corporation of America, this new start-up in the early 1980s changed the landscape of corrections in the United States. CCA could design, finance, build, operate and manage correctional facilities of many types in direct partnership with government agencies. The company could also tailor correctional solutions based on correctional agencies’ precise needs, with budget, population, classification, policies and procedures in mind.

The promise of public-private partnership in corrections was planted when CCA secured its first-ever contract with the U.S. Department of Justice for an Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) for the development and operation of Houston Processing Center. Within five years, CCA was being traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange and had earned ACA-accreditation for its earliest facilities. A decade after its founding, CCA had opened and assumed management of more facilities, including Leavenworth Detention Center, the first maximum-security facility under direct contract with a federal agency, managed by a corrections company.

By 20 years in business, CCA operated 60 facilities in 21 states and the District of Columbia, with 14,000 employees. After a quarter-century, the company had been named by Forbes magazine as the nation's "best managed company" in the business services and supplies category, plus recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a “Top 50 Military Friendly Employer.”

Now entering its fourth decade, CCA continues to create new paths in the industry. The company still develops partnership models and new corrections innovations that reflect an even greater commitment to high quality safety and security, and rehabilitation and reentry.

Sources: Puente Arizona, CCA, Rep. Grijalva, Not1More Campaign.
—> Edited by Anibal Ibarra

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