Undocumented Panamanian Man Jean Jiménez-Joseph Commits Suicide While in ICE Custody in Georgia


A Panamanian immigrant detained at Stewart Detention Center in Georgia committed suicide while in solitary confinement on Monday.

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According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, staff at the detention center found Jean Jiménez-Joseph, 27, unresponsive in his cell. The man, who had been in solitary confinement for almost three weeks, was sent to the nearby Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:15 a.m.

He died from a “self-inflicted strangulation.”

Jiménez-Joseph was transferred to ICE on March 2, after completing a sentence for larceny of a motor vehicle at a North Carolina jail.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he was in solitary confinement at the detention center for jumping off of a second-floor walkway. He was later given an additional three days after flashing a nurse. Confined for 19 days, the man was supposed to be released from solitary this week.

The Stewart Detention Center, a for-profit enterprise run by CoreCivic, the largest private prison contractor in the country, has long been criticized by immigration rights groups. In 2015, less than 2 percent of people detained at the facility, located in Lumpkin, Georgia, won their cases, meaning it's extremely difficult to avoid deportation there.

Even more, according to a report published by Project South and the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, conditions have been described as harsh, including shoddy food, limited access to attorneys and more-than-common use of solitary confinement. The horrible treatment inspired dozens of detainees to go on a hunger strike last year. All were later punished with solitary confinement.

“The suicide of this young immigrant at Stewart is a horrific tragedy that could have been prevented,” Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for Project South, told the Huffington Post. “As our year-long investigation revealed, conditions at the facility are deplorable and there is lack of adequate access to mental healthcare. Stewart must be shut down immediately.”

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Jiménez-Joseph’s death marks the seventh suicide of a detainee in ICE custody this fiscal year, which began in October.

(h/t Huffington Post)