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Lack of Mental Health Care in Private Detention Centers; OAS Agency to Investigate Hutto

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This morning's San Antonio Express News has an excellent story from reporter Hernán Rozemberg about the lack of mental health care in Texas private detention centers.

According to the article, cases of untreated mental illnesses are rampant in detention centers in south Texas. The story uses two separate cases from GEO Group's Pearsall detention center to make the case:

One was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The other was manic-depressive. But as far as the federal immigration detention system is concerned, the pair say, their illnesses were checked at the door.

The cases of two immigrants in South Texas reflect the systematic medical maltreatment detainees face across the country as the government rushes people in and out to save a buck by skipping treatment, said Javier Maldonado, a San Antonio immigration lawyer.

Maldonado is representing Miroslava Rodríguez Grava and Isaías Vásquez Cisneros, Mexican immigrants held at the South Texas Detention Complex, a 1,904-bed federal immigration prison in Pearsall.

The article also reveals that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an agency of the Organization of American States, will investigate conditions at detention centers in the U.S. this December, including CCA's infamous T. Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor.

According to the story:

The attention extends beyond U.S. borders. Florentín Meléndez, president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said he received U.S. approval this month to visit immigration prisons, including the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility near Austin, starting in December.

"It's really worrisome to see all these reports," Meléndez said by phone from El Salvador. "We're interested in making sure people are being treated well — they're human beings before they're illegals."

Hopefully, ICE won't turn away this international inspector as it did last spring with U.N. Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante last spring.

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