Justice Checking Immigrant Abuse Reports

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The Justice Department inspector general is investigating possible abuses by federal prison guards in Brooklyn against illegal immigrants detained after the Sept. 11 attacks, the New York Times reports. Inspector General Glenn Fine briefed members of Congress yesterday on a critical report delivered by his office earlier this month on the treatment of Sept. 11 detainees. Fine said investigators had “serious concerns” about a pattern of verbal and physical abuse faced by 84 illegal immigrants at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Investigators found that some guards slammed inmates against walls, dragged them by their arms, stepped on the chains between their ankle cuffs and made slurs and threats like “you will feel pain” and “you’re going to die here,” Fine said. Fine said his office was conducting an internal review of fewer than 10 officers, and might recommend disciplinary action.

Harley G. Lappin, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, defended the handling of the illegal immigrants and suggested that any instances of abuse – if they occurred – were isolated. Mr. Lappin said the bureau’s restrictive conditions, in which some detainees are locked up alone for 23 hours a day, are justified because the inmates were suspected of having ties to terrorists and must be considered capable of violence.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/26/national/26DETA.html

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