Three private companies run 11 immigrant-only contract prisons for the federal government: five by the GEO Group, four by the Corrections Corporation of America, and two by Management & Training Corporation. Repeated federal audits and reports have found these facilities to be in crisis, The Nation reports. “These prisons operate without the same systems of accountability as regular Bureau of Prisons facilities, and prisoners suffer,” said Carl Takei, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who co-authored a 2014 report documenting the subpar conditions. The Nation obtained more than 9,000 pages of medical records that contractors submitted to the BOP. They include the records for 103 of at least 137 people who have died in federal contract prisons from 1998 (the year after the first one opened) through 2014.
Of 78 files that provided enough information to render a judgment, doctors found that 37 contained indications of inadequate medical care. In 25 of these—a third of the total—the reviewers said the inadequacies likely contributed to the premature deaths of the prisoners. In only 26 cases did at least one reviewer find indications that the care had likely been in accordance with recognized medical standards. The magazine says “the files tell the story of men sick with cancer, AIDS, mental illness, and liver and heart disease, forced to endure critical delays in care. They show prison medical units repeatedly failing to diagnose patients correctly despite obvious and painful symptoms, as well as the use of underqualified workers pressed to operate on the borders of their legal scope of practice. The files also show men dying of treatable diseases—men who very likely would have survived had they been given access to adequate care.”