Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06)
October 17, 2019
Following three months of weekly visits to the Aurora Contract Detention Facility, Rep. Jason Crow (CO-06) today outlined a series of tangible improvements that have been made at the facility since Crow’s visits began in mid-July. Reports can be found at Representative Crow’s website, here.
The decision to launch weekly visits to the facility came after a series of disturbing reports about the conditions at immigration detention centers across the country and ICE’s refusal to claim responsibility for medical conditions at private, for-profit immigration detention centers.
Visitation Area Phones
- Prior to Crow’s weekly visits, immigrant justice groups noted that visitation area phones used to communicate with detainees were in poor condition or non-functioning.
- During Crow’s weekly tours, members of Crow’s staff review telephone access in living quarters and the visitation area, and conducts weekly tests of phone in the visitation area to ensure they are in working order.
- Since Crow’s visits, phone functionality has greatly improved with Immigration Hub noting, “the [phone] situation was not corrected until Congressman Crow started monitoring the facility.”
- Following last week’s visit Crow’s staff reported repairs being made during their audit.
- Multiple reports have outlined food being unsuitable for human consumption. In a recent ACLU report on the facility, a prior detainee noted, “The food was either expired or contaminated.”
- Crow’s office has addressed and will continue to monitor issues relating to food spoilage and maggots, requesting the weekly inspection logs in the food service area and the daily food and equipment temperature logs and includes these in the reports posted online.
- Over the summer, the facility reported numerous vacancies for medical staff including a physician, licensed practical nurses, a psychologist, physician’s assistant, and a health services administrator positions.
- Today, the facility has filled several of those vacancies hiring three nurses and in the process of hiring a second physician, an additional physician assistant, as well as filling additional health administration roles.
Infectious Disease Treatment and Containment
- Before Crow’s visit to the facility in February, there was miscommunication regarding the reporting requirements of infectious diseases to the local health department.
- Today, Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) says reporting and ongoing communication has improved, ensuring officials are aware of any potential public health issues.
- The facility now has a standard practice for providing vaccinations to detainees and an agreement with TCHD to provide vaccinations to staff, measures that only began after Congressman Crow’s involvement with the facility.
Right to Legal Counsel
- In the first three months of 2019, 15 cases of mumps and nine cases of chicken pox were reported at the facility resulting in multiple quarantines. New cases, and quarantines, have and will likely continue to occur with new arrivals to the facility. Following attention by Congressman’s Crow’s office, a video relay system has been installed to allow detainees to appear via video conference during quarantine ensuring they maintain their right to legal counsel.
“Our goal in starting these weekly visits was to introduce transparency to these facilities and, where needed, hold a spotlight on areas that need to be improved. Although there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, we’ve seen some improvements to the facilities and lives of the detainees,” said Crow. “Transparency promotes accountability and I’m proud of the work done by our office staff to promote these values and their work following the public health and legal issues at the facility. The bottom line is that government works better when the public knows what is happening in their community.”