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SPLC, immigrant rights groups: Authorities must investigate immigrant detainee death

The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of immigrant rights groups today demanded an immediate investigation into the death of a 47-year-old man held at the LaSalle Detention Center in Louisiana – the fourth death of a LaSalle detainee in a little more than a year.

The SPLC was joined by Congreso de Jornaleros and the Detention Watch Network in calling for a Department of Homeland Security investigation into Roger Rayson’s death. Rayson, a Jamaican national, died Monday. He is the fourth person to die during ICE’s 2017 fiscal year and the 168th person to die in ICE custody since 2003.

The LaSalle Detention Center is operated by The GEO Group Inc., a for-profit private prison company with a well-documented track record of abuse, mismanagement and neglect. Recent investigations into immigrant detention deaths have found that inadequate medical care at the facilities has contributed to numerous deaths.

“This death is sadly consistent with GEO’s and ICE’s abominable track record in caring for detainees in their custody,” said Lisa Graybill, SPLC deputy legal director. “Not only does LaSalle exemplify an egregious pattern of failed medical care, but this particular facility also has the disgraceful distinction of having some of the lowest rates of legal representation and parole granted, coupled with some of the highest numbers of people subject to prolonged detention in the country.

“Civil detention is not supposed to be a death sentence, and not another taxpayer dollar should go to a private prison company like GEO that has proven itself unwilling or unable to meet minimum standards of care.”

Rayson’s death comes the same week President Trump requested congressional approval for a $3 billion supplemental budget that will increase the number of people held in detention centers and dramatically expand deportation efforts.