Immigrant Right Advocates Submit Complaint on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Abuses at Glades County Detention Center Amidst Reckless COVID-19 Response

For Immediate Release
February 22, 2021
Contact: Jessica Schneider, Director of AI Justice’s Detention Program, jschneider@aijustice.org

GLADES COUNTY, FL— Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice), along with eight other immigrant rights organizations, submitted a multi-individual federal civil rights complaint against the Glades County Detention Center (Glades) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The complaint was submitted on behalf of the approximately 300 individuals detained at Glades whose lives are being recklessly endangered as a result of the inadequate medical care and wholly insufficient crisis response during the COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint, filed with the Office of the Inspector General and the Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at DHS, demands investigation and immediate oversight to prevent additional deaths and health consequences, that ICE immediately release all people in ICE custody at Glades, starting with those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, and urgently terminate its contract with Glades County.

“For years, AI Justice has received countless complaints from detained individuals regarding the inadequate medical care at the Glades County Jail. For months, AI Justice and others have been sounding the alarm bell about the dangerous inadequate medical care and horrific conditions at Glades,” noted Jessica Schneider, Director of the Detention Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice. ICE’s insufficient and disconcerting response to the pandemic has been well-documented.

The complaint provides a detailed account of the day-to-day atrocities happening inside the facility through the extensive documentation of 25 testimonies of currently and formerly detained individuals at Glades. It further highlights how ICE’s complete lack of oversight allowed conditions at Glades to deteriorate, including patterns of inadequate medical care and neglect; lack of hygiene products, sanitation, and PPE; continued transfers between facilities without quarantine; failures to follow court orders to release individuals from Glades; retaliation for peaceful protest and public reporting; and use of toxic chemical spray in enclosed spaces. The complaint reveals Glades’ inadequate response to the pandemic led not only to multiple hospitalizations but also to the death of a detained individual. “Even during a deadly pandemic, the Glades County Jail has acted with complete disregard for the welfare of those in their care. Considering the well-documented history of systemic medical neglect and abuse even before the onset of the pandemic, we are calling on ICE to urgently cancel its contract with Glades. We are deeply concerned that if immediate action is not taken to ameliorate this situation that many more individuals will continue to contract COVID-19, leading to severe illness and potential death,” said Schneider.

Read the full complaint here.

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Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) is an award-winning non-profit law firm that fights for justice for immigrants through a combination of direct representation, impact litigation, advocacy and outreach. In Florida and on a national level, it champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocates for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serves as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; fights to keep families informed, empowered and together; and pursues redress on behalf of immigrant groups with particular and compelling claims to justice.