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Migrants transferred to understaffed federal prisons by Trump admin are now getting sick

Posted on June 28, 2018 at 6:30 PM

By (Gabe Ortiz)

The Trump administration has been arresting so many families as a result of its barbaric “zero tolerance” policy that hundreds of adult detainees have been transferred to federal prisons across five states. But some facilities were already overwhelmed and understaffed before this influx, and now the government’s action is making a bad situation even worse—and making people sick.

Staffers from a Victorville, California, federal prison say that since the government forced 1,000 migrants on them, disease has become a problem. “Our medical department was not ready,” said case manager John Kostelnik.” Now we have chicken pox, scabies. We had a detainee who had worms in his armpits.”

Some facilities had already been forced to put “medical staff, teachers, food service workers, and other prison employees … on guard duty to cover the prisons’ basic functions.” Victorville, which held 3,500 people before migrant detainees were brought in, has just one full-time doctor—and there have already been deadly consequences.

Just weeks ago, an inmate there committed suicide after he “did not receive the required doctor’s visit during his first two weeks at the facility, which overlapped with the influx of ICE detainees.” Authorities have not said how Barry Keck, 56, died, other than to say “staff immediately called for assistance and began lifesaving measures.”

“We failed to provide that inmate the care,” Kostelnik said. “I don’t know if it would have prevented him killing himself, I don’t know.” Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have already said that federal prisons aren’t set up to detain migrants in this manner, on this scale.