November 1, 2011
Feds decline investigation of NYC detention center
NEW YORK — The U.S. Marshals Service has declined to investigate allegations by activists that immigrants at a private New York City detention center have been abused.
Jeff Carter, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said Tuesday that the agency had conducted annual and spot inspections at the Queens Detention Facility since 2008. The center passed its most recent inspection in September, he said.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Make the Road New York, an immigrant rights group, called for an investigation of the center last month after saying they had received reports of mistreatment of detainees and lack of medical care at the privately operated center.
They also claimed that the center, operated by the Florida-based GEO Group Inc., houses immigrants facing deportation, but the U.S. Marshals Service said it was under contract to hold about 200 people accused of crimes.
The public advocate reiterated Tuesday the need for a federal investigation. "At issue here are the practices and accountability of the private detention system," he said. "This is very simple: if GEO is putting immigrants' lives at risk .... the government should end its relationship with the company."
The company's spokesman, Pablo Paez, said the firm could not respond to accusations from "third parties."
Geo Group operates 7,000 of the 32,000 of the country's beds for immigrant detainees.
The U.S. Marshals Service said the Queens Detention Center is accredited by the American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Health Care.
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