GEO Group is accused of exposing ICE detainees to chemicals : NPR
A new lawsuit filed against one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison operators, GEO Group Inc., alleges the company improperly used toxic chemicals to clean up its detention facilities, causing the inmate illness.
The Social Justice Legal Foundation represents seven people currently and formerly incarcerated at the Adelanto, California immigration detention center. spraying the product during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States
Lawyers for SJLF allege that due to inmates’ near-constant exposure to this chemical for months from February 2020 to April 2021, they suffered symptoms such as a persistent cough, sore throat and nose, skin irritation, rashes and headaches.
The plaintiffs say they found blood in their mouths and saliva, suffered debilitating headaches, felt dizzy and dizzy, and now face chronic long-term health issues due to their exposure to the chemical.
A spokesperson for GEO Group Inc. said the company strongly rejects allegations “that GEO uses harmful chemicals as cleaning products in our ICE processing centers.”
The spokesperson said: “At all of our ICE processing centers, GEO uses cleaning products that are regulated by the EPA and are always used in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, as well as all applicable sanitation standards. established by the federal government’s national performance-based detention standards.”
But in 2021, the EPA issued a warning against GEO Group for “using a registered pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling” after an inspection spurred by inmate complaints of illness after exposure to the HDQ Neutral.
What would happen in Adelanto is part of a pattern of conduct by GEO, Social Justice Legal Foundation executive director Shubhra Shivpuri told NPR.
GEO Group Inc. has faced several lawsuits from inmates and families of prisoners over the years due to alleged conditions in its prisons and immigration detention centers. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the largest source of revenue streams for GEO clients.
GEO Group Inc.’s Adelanto facility has also come under scathing criticism from federal government watchdogs. Reports have emerged that the health and safety of inmates was at risk at Adelanto and that solitary confinement was used for extended periods in violation of ICE’s own standards, among other issues. Despite these earlier issues, ICE renewed and expanded a contract to keep the Adelanto facility open.
The GEO Group spokesperson said allegations such as those presented by SJLF are part of “a long-running, politically motivated and radical campaign to attack ICE contractors, abolish ICE and end federal detention by proxy”.
Adelanto staff sprayed HDQ Neutral “indiscriminately”
The Environmental Protection Agency considers HDQ Neutral to be corrosive and a chemical that can cause irreversible eye damage and skin burns. The manufacturer, Spartan Chemical, warns users not to inhale or ingest it, or get it on eyes, skin, or clothing.
Staff began using HDQ Neutral “to a startling degree” in February 2020, according to the lawsuit.
“Chemical spraying was an almost constant and invasive presence in Adelanto. GEO staff sprayed HDQ Neutral every 15 to 30 minutes from tanks strapped to their backs and small spray bottles. GEO staff sprayed this chemical in the air and on all surfaces, including food contact surfaces, telephones, rails, doorknobs, bathrooms, showers and sinks,” the lawsuit continues.
“GEO staff sprayed while people were eating, and the chemical mist fell on their food. GEO staff sprayed at night, on or around bunk beds and cells where people slept. And at least one occasion, GEO personnel sprayed individuals as a disciplinary measure,” the complaint alleges.
Ignored geography repeated complaints from inmates about their symptoms from the sprays, “denying and misrepresenting the use and effects of the toxic chemical to inmates and regulators”, the SJLF alleges.
The company spokesperson maintains that the cleaning products used are “safe and widely used across the country in many different settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, youth centers, colleges and universities”.
The SJLF wants the lawsuit certified to become a class action so that other people detained at the Adelanto ICE treatment center who were allegedly harmed by the use of the chemical can receive damages, medical expenses and fees. lawyer, among others. price.