Coronavirus Pandemic: Protecting Detainees - Part 2
Coronavirus has caused lockdowns for most parts of the country, including for those detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
For many in custody, they are scared of contracting the virus. An inmate at Hudson County Correction Center told News 12 he is very scared and that his bunkmate tested positive for coronavirus. An inmate at Essex County Correctional Facility tells News 12 the hygiene conditions are not good.
“They don't give us anything to clean our hands with, we have no gloves or masks,” he says.
All three New Jersey jails are holding New York City-based immigrants.
ICE says it's adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which say only detainees with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 need a mask.
When asked for comment, ICE repeatedly referred News 12 to its website. The agency refused News 12's request for an interview and did not answer any specific questions about the conditions inside its detention centers, which Jessica, whose partner was recently detained, says were inhumane.
"There’s no social distancing. They didn’t give them any masks, any hand sanitizer, no gloves,” says Jessica.
Although ICE reports only two cases at Bergen County, that's not what her partner was told.
"He said they would bully him a lot. They would say, 'Oh, the COVID-19 is in here, we have 50 cases,’” says Jessica.
Jessica and her newborn son were waiting in Brooklyn for his father to return from Bergen County Jail.
"At the time, I was seven months pregnant. From the stress of everything and trying to get him out, I ended up giving birth prematurely. "
For her son's father though, she says a botched medical procedure paved the way to his release.
"He ate something like a chicken bone, and it broke his tooth. So, they had to remove it. But when they gave him a local anesthetic, they didn't wait until the whole mouth was numb, they just went ahead and just ripped out the tooth,” says Jessica.
Now reunited, she says the nightmare hasn't gone away.
"With like PTSD, panic attacks, like even now he jumps in his sleep,” says Jessica.
For the others detained, Jessica says she'll keep talking.