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Death in Detention

May 17, 2011

Lawsuit Charges Gross
Negligence: Who is Responsible?

On the heels of yesterday’s post about immigration detention, comes the news that a lawsuit has been filed in the case of a 49-year-old immigrant detainee who died in the Suffolk County (Boston, MA) House of Correction in 2009. According to the suit filed by his daughter, Pedro Tavarez “died from a heart attack caused by a massive sepsis infection that the defendants failed to properly treat.”
            The Boston Globe article, by Maria Sacchetti, quotes the County Sheriff’s attorney as saying that the allegations in the case “do not remotely support a civil rights complaint against any employee of the Sheriff’s Department…Neither the sheriff, the superintendent, nor the unidentified corrections officers have a role in the medical care provided to inmates or detainees.”
            Evidently, that’s true, since healthcare services in the facility are contracted out to a private company, PHS Correctional Healthcare (formerly Prison Health Services. It looks like this could end up being one of those endless squabbles in which all of the parties involved try to duck out on their responsibilities – ICE, which made the bust; Suffolk County, which is paid $90 per day to house ICE detainees; and PHS Correctional, which was paid to provide healthcare (and did not respond to Sacchetti’s request for comment.) And we’re responsible too, because we’ve allowed this multi-tiered (and highly profitable) system of blame avoidance to be created in our name.
            For more posts on immigration detention, check here. Also, take a look at this new video on the private, for-profit prison industry from Brave New Foundation. Visit their website when you have a chance; the work is uneven, but they’re making a serious effort to use modern media techniques to educate and agitate on important human rights issues. (Photo above was taken during a prior demonstration at the Suffolk County House of Correction.)

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