Second Suicide to Occur in ICE Detention This Year

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
As the death toll rises in detention, immigrant rights groups demand accountability and transparency

Washington, DC — Immigrant rights organizations, Georgia Detention Watch and Detention Watch Network demand an immediate investigation into the death of Jean Jimenez-Joseph. Jimenez-Joseph, 27, died on Monday while in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after being detained at Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. ICE is reporting the death as a suicide, which provides a heartbreaking perspective into the state of mind of Jimenez-Joseph who had spent 19 days in solitary confinement prior to his passing. Georgia Detention Watch and Detention Watch Network would like to express their deepest condolences to the family of Jimenez-Joseph.

“Locked up in isolation, Jimenez-Joseph regrettably experienced the nightmare that is the Stewart Detention Center,” said Azadeh Shahshahani of Project South and Georgia Detention Watch. Referencing a recent Project South and Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic report, Imprisoned Justice: Inside Two Georgia Immigration Detention Centers, that investigates the deplorable conditions at the Stewart Detention Center, she continued: "The use of solitary is rampant at Stewart. We know that people are put in segregation for expressing suicidal thoughts or as retaliation for complaining about conditions -- this abusive practice coupled with woefully inadequate medical and mental health services is a lethal combination.”

The Stewart Detention Center where Jimenez-Joseph died is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, recently rebranded as CoreCivic in an effort to distance themselves from a well-documented track record of abuse, mismanagement and neglect. Furthermore, this untimely tragedy marks the second suicide to occur in ICE detention this year and brings ICE’s total death count to 171 since 2003 — a shameful record further exposing ICE’s inability to guarantee the safety and health of people in their custody. Recent investigations into deaths in immigration detention have found that inadequate medical care at detention centers has contributed to numerous deaths.

“Immigration detention is becoming a death sentence,” said Gabriela Benitez of Detention Watch Network. “ICE must be held accountable. Two suicides within the past three months underscores the pressing need to end the deadly detention system in its entirety.”


Georgia Detention Watch (GDW) is a coalition of organizations and individuals that advocates alongside immigrants to end the inhumane and unjust detention and law enforcement policies and practices directed against immigrant communities in our state.

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States' immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detenion. Visit Follow @DetentionWatch.