Friday, April 03, 2009

Death in Detention In Monmouth County - Kept Secret for Years

Last year the New York Times published a shocking story of the neglect of a tailor from Guinea who died as a result of severe medical neglect after a fall left him with a head injury. Congressional hearings followed and it was learned that over 85 immigrant detainees had died in custody. However, there was no way of knowing precisely how many had died since none of the county jails or for profit prisons housing immigrants were required to keep records nor were any inquiries mandated as a result of a death while in custody.

There were many allegations of cover-ups from the immigrant’s rights advocacy community which may have sounded a bit like wild conspiracy theories until today. Nina Bernstein has just written another article for the Times confirming the death of a Pakistani man who was held at the Monmouth County jail. His name was Ahmad Tanveer. For over 3 years DHS and the officials at the jail refused to release any information on Mr. Tanveer or acknowledge his death. Thanks to the persistence of the citizen activist members of the NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee and the help of the ACLU, we now know his name, but little else.

DHS has also published a new, revised list of immigrants who have died in detention. This list includes 90 names, but the name of Ana Romero Rivera, who is known to have hung herself in an isolation cell in a county jail in Kentucky last year while awaiting deportation, does not appear on the list. We are left wondering how many more?


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