An ICE spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing his agency’s policy of not discussing pending litigation.
“That said, absence of comment should in no way be construed that ICE thinks a suit has any merit,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said. “In general, ICE activities are conducted in full compliance with federal law and agency policy.”
During the fiscal year that ended in September, nine out of more than 396,000 ICE detainees died in custody, Cox said. He said a pair of studies his agencies did in 2012 and 2013 found that, at any given time, about 1.1% of ICE detainees are in solitary confinement, or “segregated housing,” as ICE calls it.
CoreCivic, a Nashville-based corrections company, operates Stewart through agreements with ICE and Stewart County. The company is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Jimenez’ mother, Nerina Joseph, and his stepfather, Gilberto Rodriguez Chaverra, who is also the administrator of Jimenez’ estate, are suing 12 ICE officials. One of the family’s attorney is Brian Spears, who represented the widow of Roberto Medina-Martinez, a Mexican who died in ICE custody in 2009. Medina-Martinez was held at Stewart. His widow filed a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit, saying he died from myocarditis — or an inflammation of the heart muscle — because of the federal government’s negligence. She reached a confidential settlement in 2012 with the government, which denied negligence.
The other lawyer for the family is Andrew Free. He has represented the family of Efrain De La Rosa, 40, of Mexico, a mentally ill detainee who hanged himself last year inside his solitary confinement cell in Stewart.
More: ICE detainee wasn’t observed as required before he hanged himself
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that authorities at Stewart failed to monitor both Jimenez and De La Rosa as often as they were required before they killed themselves.