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Detention Watch Network: Canadian National dies at Houston Processing Center

This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that a Canadian national had died suddenly while in its custody at the Corrections Corporation of America-run Houston Processing Center. The cause of death is apparently a heart attack or stroke. 

According to the report, Peter George Rockwell, 46, who had been in ICE custody since January 30, 2014, fainted at the facility on February 15. Rockwell was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. On February 22, medical staff at the hospital removed Mr. Rockwell from life support as per his family's authorization.

Rockwell, who has been in the United States as a legal permanent resident since 1993, was convicted in July 2013 on two counts of felony evading arrest and was subsequently sentenced to three years of community service. He was ordered to appear in immigration court on January 30 due to his convictions, which served as a potential reason for his removal from the United States. ICE was then contacted by the Canadian authorities, who claimed that Rockwell was wanted for charges in both Ontario and Ottawa. 

In 2012, the Houston Processing Center was highlighted by the Detention Watch Network in its Expose and Close report series as amongst 10 of the worst immigration detention centers in the country.  The Houston Processing Center was the first CCA facility in the country, opening just over 30 years ago and pioneering the modern private prison industry.

This is the second death this year of an immigrant in ICE custody.