Monroe, Louisiana — Detention Watch Network and Congreso de Jornaleros at the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice are demanding an immediate investigation into the death of Roylan Hernández Diáz, a 43-year-old man from Cuba. Hernández Diáz died on October 15 while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody after being detained at the Richwood Correctional Center in Monroe, Louisiana. ICE is reporting Hernández Diaz’s death as a suicide, who was being held in solitary confinement at the time, a practice internationally recognized as torture.
“Fostering hopelessness is an intentional tactic of an administration bent on terrorizing immigrant communities,” said Chloe Sigal, Congreso de Jornaleros Lead Organizer at the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. "This is why the New Orleans ICE Field Office has eliminated the use of parole in favor of indefinite detention, it's why medical and mental health services are all but nonexistent and it's why the use of solitary confinement is rampant. This is a lethal combination and it cost Hernández Diáz his life."
The Richwood Correctional Center is operated by LaSalle Southwest Corrections, a private prison company that has previously faced allegations of abuse, mismanagement and neglect. The immigration jail was one of eight to open in Louisiana since 2018 as part of the Trump administration’s scheme to rapidly expand detention in the South. The state now detains around 8,000 people out of an ICE detention population of over 50,000.
Since 2003, 197 people have died in ICE immigrant detention. Recent investigations into deaths in immigration detention, Code Red: The Fatal Consequences of Dangerously Substandard Medical Care in Immigration Detention, Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention and Systemic Indifference: Dangerous and Substandard Medical Care in US Immigration Detention, have found that inadequate medical care has contributed to numerous deaths and that ICE lacks urgency and transparency when reporting deaths in its custody.
The news of Hernández Diáz’s tragic suicide comes nearly a year after the suicide of Amar Mergansana at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. Mergansana had been on hunger strike for 83 days and was held in solitary confinement.
“ICE completely disregards the well-being and dignity of people in their custody,” said Bárbara Suárez Galeano, Organizing Director at Detention Watch Network. “Immigration detention is fatal — funding must be cut to the deadly agency as a step towards abolishing the system in its entirety.”
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 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 detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.