Torrance County is an ICE detention center in New Mexico, notorious for terrible living conditions & retaliation against anyone who speaks out. We have been working there with individuals to fight side-by-side for their release, learn about the horrors of living there, and to advocate together for the closure of the facility. In March the OIG issued a report saying that Torrance had failed to meet basic standards and should be shutdown. ICE denied the allegations and continued to keep hundreds of individuals locked up in Torrance.
In July, ICE Director Tae Johnson assured Senator Heinrich of New Mexico that all was well at Torrance County Detention Facility. However, those words were a lie. Many were being verbally abused by CoreCivic staff & ICE officers and had their basic constitutional rights infringed upon. And then a man died by suicide.
Conditions continue to deteriorate and retaliation against the men inside has intensified, leading several men to go on hunger strike and several others to suicide watch. OIG recently issued a follow up report that says what we have known all along: No human should have to live in Torrance County Detention Facility.
Shamefully, ICE and CoreCivic’s response has been to evade transparency, lie about the abuse and abhorrent conditions at Torrance, and retaliate against the detained individuals who tell the truth. In a recent article in the Santa Fe New Mexican that provides ample evidence of the awful situation at Torrance, a CoreCivic representative did nothing other than lie to the people of Torrance County and New Mexico. “[CoreCivic] spokesman Matthew Davio wrote in an email Monday, ‘Not one detainee has missed a meal.’ Davio also denied reports of cold and dirty living quarters, inoperable plumbing, the presence of insects and other insanitary conditions.”
CoreCivic’s statements are simply lies. Even the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has admitted to the plethora of inhumane conditions at Torrance County and documented, with photographs and all, in the public record. It should be of great concern that a prison operator can lie so blatantly to the public in the face of overwhelming evidence of mistreatment.
“We cannot explain DHS & CoreCivic’s motivation in putting gasoline on the fire at Torrance,” said Casey Mangan, an attorney with Innovation Law Lab who represents people detained at Torrance. He continued:
Someone has already died there recently, and DHS & CoreCivic are treating the people held at TCDF as if they want someone else to die or they are trying to draw attention to how bad TCDF is by making it worse. They could just act in the same, horrible way they have for years, but they appear to be going out of their way to make things worse.
People detained inside Torrance are desperate. There’s been a significant increase in the number of people on suicide watch. Staff are increasing the use of retaliatory solitary confinement, waking people up in the middle of the night for no reason except for punishment for speaking up, not accepting documents from individuals in support of their release, not responding to individuals’ release requests through their counsel, and more. Water is leaking all over the facility and insects such as mosquitoes are all over.
Releasing everyone is the obvious solution here. We would like to know why the White House, DHS, and CoreCivic have not ended the contract at TCDF, when even the DHS Office of the Inspector general has called for the prison to be depopulated. Why have they not released all of those who are still suffering inside? They release a trickle of people occasionally, but we are calling on the government to free them all and ensure no one will ever have to endure TCDF ever again!
It’s high time to end the contract at Torrance County Detention Facility.