Media Contact Information
Alex Mensing, Communications Strategist
FOLKSTON, G.A. –– Yesterday, June 16, advocacy groups sent a formal demand letter to regional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) leadership and private prison company GEO Group’s Facility Administrator for Folkston ICE Processing Center (FIPC) to request immediate redress of abusive and retaliatory tactics at the immigration detention center in rural Georgia. The letter details specific instances of severe physical violence, deliberate deprivation of medical care and retaliatory use of solitary confinement, among other abuses committed by staff against detained individuals including Garsumo Dorley. Innovation Law Lab, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Malaya Movement USA’s Georgia Chapter, Project South and the Southern Poverty Law Center all signed the letter, which cites multiple violations by FIPC staff of the Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) and applicable law.
Garsumo Dorley has survived multiple abuses at FIPC at the hands of staff. After being locked outside for hours in over 90-degree heat as illegal punishment for exercising his freedom of speech along with other detained individuals, Mr. Dorley was attacked by a five-person “extraction team” of guards after he requested to speak to the facility psychiatrist. According to the demand letter, “the team tackled Mr. Dorley while he was brushing his teeth and pinned him to the ground. One officer put their knee on Mr. Dorley’s face and another put their knee on his back before they shackled Mr. Dorley’s ankles and wrists.” He was then sent to solitary confinement after a disciplinary hearing which he was not allowed to attend or participate in.
The advocacy groups’ demands for ICE and Geo Group as communicated in the letter are:
- Within five days, provide Mr. Dorley’s legal representative with security camera footage of a list of instances of abuse.
- Within five days, begin a formal investigation into abusive and retaliatory behavior by GEO personnel against Black immigrants at FIPC.
- Within ten days, release all potential witnesses and victims of undue use of force at FIPC and enable them to participate in the investigation without fear of retaliation.
- Within 15 days, provide a plan of action, including appropriate disciplinary and remedial measures.
“I’m supposed to be protected from abuse and unnecessary use of force. I’m supposed to be protected from discrimination. But whenever I pursue any of those rights, I face retaliation. For whatever reason. I just don’t know. So that doesn’t make me feel safe – that’s why I’ve been pushing to get out of here. If there’s anything I’m afraid of, as I’ve said over and over, it’s the retaliation. I’m supposed to be here detained until I can see an immigration judge, but if I keep getting mistreated, how am I supposed to feel safe? I turn down the food because I’m afraid, I don’t know what they’re going to do with the food here. I’ve been through a lot and this is not making it any better.” – Garsumo Dorley, currently detained in FIPC
“GLAHR condemns the abuse and retaliation endured by Garsumo Dorley. We stand in solidarity with Garsumo in demanding transparency and a prompt investigation. We reiterate our belief that detention of our immigrant community members is inhumane and unacceptable.” – Adelina Nichols, Executive Director of GLAHR
“We’ve heard from many detained immigrants about the rampant use of force, retaliation, and overuse of solitary confinement happening inside the Folkston ICE Processing Center. There has been no transparency or accountability from the GEO Group or ICE when these violations occur. We are in solidarity with Garsumo and all immigrants detained at Folkston who have bravely demanded justice and a prompt investigation.” – Priyanka Bhatt, Senior Staff Attorney at Project South
“Let’s not forget that the private company committing these violent abuses against Garsumo and others is being paid millions of dollars by ICE to incarcerate immigrants. What else could we spend those millions on instead of this abuse? I’d rather see schools, hospitals, parks and libraries instead of for-profit detention centers where private prison guards tackle and shackle a man while he brushes his teeth. We stand with Garsumo and everyone facing these abuses in their calls for an investigation, release and accountability.” – Ariel Prado, Co-Director of Anticarceral Legal Organizing for Innovation Law Lab
ICE and private prison companies including GEO Group have committed countless abuses and violations against detained migrants in the past. Another harrowing example in Georgia is the case of Irwin County Detention Center, which was shut down as a result of years of community organizing as well as outrage over extreme medical abuse, including non consensual gynecological procedures performed on detained women, exposed by whistleblower nurse Dawn Wooten. The abuses GEO Group is committing at FIPC today amount to torture and must be stopped.
You can read the full text of the demand letter online.
Innovation Law Lab: Alex Mensing, firstname.lastname@example.org
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights: Sebastian Saavedra, Sebastian@glahr.org
Project South: Azadeh Shahshahani, Azadeh@projectsouth.org
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Innovation Law Lab, based in Portland, Oregon with projects around the United States, is a nonprofit organization that brings together technology, lawyers and organizers to advance immigrant and refugee justice. For more information, see www.innovationlawlab.org and follow us on social media: Innovation Law Lab on Facebook and Instagram and @ThinkLawLab on Twitter.
The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights educates, organizes, and empowers Latinos in Georgia to defend and advance their civil and human rights. Established in 2001, GLAHR is a community-based organization that develops statewide grassroots leadership in Latino immigrant communities.
Project South was founded as the Institute to Eliminate Poverty & Genocide in 1986. Our work is rooted in the legacy of the Southern Freedom Movement, and our mission of cultivating strong social movements in the South powerful enough to contend with some of the most pressing and complicated social, economic, and political problems we face today.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.