Jesse Jerome Dean, Jr. died in immigration detention in the Calhoun County Jail because of inhumane conditions and a failure to provide him basic medical care
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) and a coalition of racial justice and immigrant rights organizations is calling for accountability and policy change after inhumane conditions and a failure to provide basic medical care led to the death of Jesse Jerome Dean, Jr., 58, from the Bahamas, while in immigration detention in Calhoun County. In letters sent today to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, the coalition urged an end to the contract that enables ICE to detain people at the Calhoun County Correctional Facility (CCCF) and called for an independent investigation of the medical care services provided to people in custody. Over 1,500 pages of ICE records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that the tragic death of Mr. Dean could have easily been prevented had CCCF and ICE provided him with proper medical attention while in immigration detention.
The coalition’s letters, demanding accountability and reforms in the wake of Mr. Dean’s death, detail his 36 days of detention in which he complained no less than 27 times that he was suffering from stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting, and how his repeated complaints were ignored. A nurse even threatened to discipline Mr. Dean if he continued to complain, even though he had lost nearly 20 pounds in three weeks and was only able to drink a few cups of water daily. Mr. Dean’s repeated pleas to go to the hospital were ignored until the morning of his death on February 5, 2021. But he never made it to the hospital. According to records obtained, Mr. Dean died of a bleeding ulcer and hypertension, both detectable and treatable ailments.
CCCF has a documented history of abuse and failure to provide proper medical care, as cited by expert reports in the ACLU’s federal class action lawsuit Malam v. Adducci, filed against ICE in April 2020. That lawsuit secured the release of medically vulnerable immigrants from CCCF during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when people held in detention by ICE faced overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. At the time, people detained were held in pods with up to 60 people who slept, ate, bathed, and lived in close confinement while there was no vaccine available yet. While Mr. Dean’s death is not COVID-19 related, the records obtained confirm the inadequacy of medical care provided at CCCF.
Clarence Dean, brother of the late Jesse Jerome Dean, Jr., has this statement:
“My brother Jesse Jerome Dean, Jr. should be home and alive today. He offered to voluntarily leave the U.S. and return to his family in the Bahamas where he grew up. Instead, he died a slow painful death behind bars in an ICE facility, from a common treatable medical condition. He was undoubtedly neglected by the staff at the Calhoun County Jail for 36 days while awaiting to be repatriated to the Bahamas. I hope that Jesse’s death will save the lives of others by exposing the cruel and inhumane conditions created by ICE contracting with local jails, showing their inability to properly care for the people housed there.”
Ramis Wadood, a Skadden Fellow and attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, has this statement:
“If Jesse Jerome Dean, Jr. were not an immigrant, he would be free and alive. Instead, he died inside Calhoun County’s jail, a facility that routinely ignores the medical needs of the people it is legally required to care for. Mr. Dean died not only because Calhoun County neglected his medical care, but also because ICE detained him there in the first place. Local police and jails should not be in the business of inhumanely caging people on behalf of ICE. The abysmal treatment that led to Mr. Dean’s death in Calhoun County’s custody is cruel and unnecessary, and it must end now before more deaths occur.”
Seydi Sarr, Helmswomxn of African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA), has this statement:
“All sentient beings are valuable and inherently worthy of protection. The actions of ICE and the Calhoun County jail, which cruelly took the life of one of our own, shows that they refuse to see Black bodies as living beings at all.”
Sophia L. Chue, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Service Center (CCSC), has this statement:
“It is the mission of the Caribbean Community Service Center to support, empower and advocate to provide a beneficial, welcoming and inclusive environment for all that reach the shores of the United States. As we read about and absorb the devastating impact of this inhumane treatment of Mr. Dean and his ultimate painful death, it not only moves us to tears but also to anger and a drive for action to ensure that this is not the normal treatment for Black immigrants detained by ICE. The time is now to demand accountability of the organizations that are being paid taxpayers’ money to provide a safe environment to immigrants under their care.”
In addition to the ACLU of Michigan, the coalition includes the African Bureau of Immigration and Social Affairs, Action of Greater Lansing, Caribbean Community Service Center, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Michigan United, and Strangers No Longer.