Detention In America

60 Minutes And The Washington Post Report On Detainee Medical Care

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For example last year, 21-year-old detainee Juan Guevara was complaining of severe headaches. Soon he had died of a brain aneurysm. A staff member wrote in an e-mail "the detainee was prescribed Tylenol. The detainee was not seen or evaluated by an RN, midlevel (physician's assistant) or physician."

This internal report from 2007 was written after another detainee died of a contagious infection: "the clinical staff at all levels failed to recognize early signs and symptoms of meningitis."

This memo from 2007 sounds an alarm over staffing shortages in Buffalo, written in all caps, "CRITICAL STAFFING SITUATION OCCURRING, SITE IS DOWN TO ONLY 3 FULL TIME NURSES." In Arizona, "CRITICAL STAFFING levels. Site has reached a 48% nursing vacancy rate."

While the number of immigrants in detention has tripled since 9/11, the health services budget has grown only by 65 percent.

Priest reads from an email from the acting director of DIHS to a senior ICE official in August 2007: "We're facing critical staffing shortages at most every site. While we developed, executed and achieved major successes in our recruitment efforts, we've been unable to meet the demand."

One immigrant detained in 2007 was Amina Mudey. She fled Somalia after her father, brothers and sister were murdered. Amina landed in New York and requested political asylum.

"The medical treatment that Amina received was absolutely deplorable. Substandard, sanction-able, and flat out malpractice," says Ann Schofield Baker, Amina's lawyer.

Schofield Baker says Amina was detained in the former New Jersey warehouse facility and almost immediately was prescribed a powerful anti-psychotic drug called "Risperdal."

"How did she come to be on Risperdal to begin with? I mean, was she psychotic?" Pelley asks.

"Not even remotely psychotic," Schofield Baker says. "When Amina first arrived at the detention center she hadn't slept in two or three days. She hadn't eaten. She'd never been on a plane before. She was disoriented. They brought her to the facility shackled. She was absolutely petrified. And she collapsed and had a panic attack. From that, someone concluded that she was psychotic."

Schofield Baker says on Risperdal, Amina was dazed, drooling and helpless. A human rights group asked her to represent Amina. She got her own doctors, who took Amina off the drug. And Amina was granted asylum. Now Amina is studying computers and English.

"What was it like when you walked out of there?" Pelley asks.

"Outside was beautiful," Amina says, with the help of a translator.

"It was a tough start for you," Pelley remarks.

"America is wonderful place. I like it, New York," Amina answers in English.