ICE detainee wasn’t observed as frequently as required before he hanged himself in Georgia

12:46 p.m Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 AJC Homepage
Stewart Detention Center records gathered by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation identified Jean Jimenez-Joseph as a “suicide risk.” Jimenez had been placed on “suicide watch” and was undergoing mental evaluations at Stewart before he hanged himself. Contributed photo.

Immigration authorities in South Georgia failed to check on a detainee they had deemed a “suicide risk” as often as they are required before he hanged himself in his solitary confinement cell in May, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s standards say detainees kept in isolation must be observed “at least every 30 minutes on an irregular schedule.” But the private officers who were hired to operate Stewart Detention Center didn’t visit the cell containing Jean Jimenez-Joseph, 27, for two longer periods in the final few hours before he was found hanging, according to video footage the Georgia Bureau of Investigation gathered as part of its probe. One period stretched for 46 minutes, and the other lasted 32 minutes until he was spotted with his sheet around his neck. 

Further, a private detention officer who was assigned to check on Jimenez logged three visits to his cell that never happened, the video shows. That officer, Freddy Wims, did not respond to telephone calls for comment. His “employment was terminated” on June 29, according to CoreCivic, the Nashville, Tenn.-based corrections giant that operates the detention center through agreements with ICE and Stewart County. A company spokesman declined to comment further about Wims but said CoreCivic cooperated with the GBI’s investigation and is doing the same with ICE’s internal probe.

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