Immigrant prison in Texas making kids sick, Human Rights group calls for end to family detention

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In a blog published on November 22, Human Rights First reported prevalent medical neglect in South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas operated by private prison corporation CoreCivic. The blog highlights the multiple medical issues that children and their parents experience with minimal access to services while in detention, as well as long-term health consequences to their incarceration.

Eleni Bakst spent a week visiting children and speaking with their parents in Dilley. “I learned that many of these children were also vomiting and experiencing diarrhea multiple times per day, had high fevers, and conjunctivitis,” she wrote. “Others had developed rashes as a result of drinking the tap water, which has reportedly been contaminated due to fracking in the area. Many local residents and visitors do not drink it.”

Bakst reported numerous women’s complaints about the negligent medical care in detention, including doctors “prescribing water instead of medicine” and “illogical and incorrect diagnoses” when patients came with illnesses. Women also reported their fear to report a complaint about the insufficient care in fear of negative consequences for their legal cases.

Bakst reported one story that exemplifies the unreasonable responses of medical professionals in detention:

“One mother told me her four-year-old daughter had lost eight pounds in detention over the last two to three weeks as a result of persistent vomiting and diarrhea, combined with high fever, rashes, and coughing. The clinician at the detention center diagnosed her vomiting as bulimia, claiming that this was common among young children at the center who are not accustomed to eating the type of food they provided. This girl’s mother, understandably taken aback by this diagnosis, did not return to the clinic, knowing that it would be futile.”