The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has fallen short on last year's promise to dial-back use of several Louisiana detention centers, and reports show that inhumane conditions have only worsened for the growing number of migrants being detained.
The Winn Correctional Center in Winn Parish, Louisiana, is just one of many detention facilities that have been the subject of alarming reports of human rights violations. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported inhumane mistreatment of those detained at Winn, as described by their legal representatives.
“The medical care is abhorrent at Winn," said Attorney Lara Nochomovitz, via NBC.
One of her clients, she reported, had an untreated circulatory disorder, and blood pooled in his leg. Another had to remove his own cyst to prevent infection. At one point, SPLC received a report that a group of men went on a hunger strike to protest the severe medical neglect.
Officers at Winn also go to great lengths to obstruct legal counsel for detainees. Nochomovitz reported that Winn staff made it incredibly difficult for her and her assistant to see clients, and she was told “the warden said there are too many people and too many attorneys, so if some people can’t see their lawyer, that’s fine.”
Additionally, SPLC has reported numerous instances of overt racism. Many Cameroonian asylum-seekers detained at the facility experienced anti-Black racism, including physical violence that led to one man being wheeled out on a wheelchair.
A.C., a gay Angolan activist and asylum seeker, told SPLC "I am anxious and scared all the time. I see no way to live if I do not get out of this place soon.”
These conditions have triggered suicidal ideation in many detainees, including "K," a migrant who was raised in the U.S. and advocated on behalf of other detainees with his English fluency. In 2021, SPLC's Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative filed a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security on K's behalf after he was brutalized by officers — he endured lethal force from officers, including a knee to his neck.
In 2022, Winn received a rating of "Superior" in a compliance inspection conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Detention Oversight. But despite being described as "compliant," reports show that Winn hasn't improved.
"Nothing has changed about the conditions of this facility," Mich González, associate director of the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, told NBC. During his visit to Winn in April, González observed people with open wounds not receiving treatment, people on crutches being told they cannot be released, and unnecessary detainments for over a year.
Attorney Sarah Gillman and her team met with around 40 people at Winn last year, and described the same conditions. "The only solution in my opinion is to shut it down," she said.