Subpar care is responsible for detention deaths

Newly released records from the US government, which summarize the inquiries into the deaths of 18 immigrants in US immigration custody, show that at least seven of the deaths were partly caused by subpar care, according to Human Rights Watch. The reviews of the deaths, which took place between mid-2012 and mid-2015, showed applicable medical detention standards and substandard medical care.

Human Rights Watch consulted with two independent medical experts. They both reached the conclusion that the deaths of seven of the detainees were likely to have been contributed to by those failures, which possibly also endangered the lives of many other detainees. The records also indicate broader medical failures, poor evaluation and treatment for mental health, and misuse of isolation for individuals who have mental disabilities.

Human Rights Watch US researcher, Clara Long, says that the Obama administration had promised to install major reforms of immigration detention back in 2009. These included improved health care and a more centralized form of oversight. The reviews of the detention deaths demonstrate that system-wide problems still exist, including the failure to fix or prevent inadequate medical care that is literally killing people.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released the reviews of the deaths last month, which covers 18 of the 31 deaths that the agency admits have taken place since May 2012. The reviews of the other 13 deaths during that period have not been released by ICE.