ACLU Sues Over Lack of Medical Treatment at San Diego Detention Facility
On June 13, 2007, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of immigrant detainees at San Diego Correctional Facility (SDCF), charging that inadequate medical and mental health care have caused unnecessary suffering and, in several cases, avoidable death.
The lawsuit, Woods v. Myers, says that detainees are routinely subjected to long delays before treatment, denied necessary medication for chronic illnesses, and refused essential referrals prescribed by medical staff. The lawsuit specifically names eleven detainees, including a woman who has a neurological disorder that has caused a painful glomus tumor on her finger; several detainees with untreated bipolar disorder and depression; a man who was forced to wait more than eight months for eye surgery and nearly suffered permanent disfigurement; and detainees with Type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, abscessed and broken teeth, and chest pains.
The ACLU believes that inadequate medical care at SDCF has — on several occasions — resulted in death; in one such case, a Ghanaian man suffering obvious chest pains was denied treatment and was ordered to submit a written sick call request shortly before his death.
The ACLU charges in its lawsuit that the incompetence and indifference of immigration officials in refusing to provide appropriate medical care amounts to punishment that violates the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Fifth Amendment prohibits subjecting any person in the custody of the United States to unnecessary pain and suffering. Because SDCF holds civil immigrant detainees, not one of whom is serving a criminal sentence, the Fifth Amendment applies to protect their civil rights.
This is the second lawsuit the ACLU has brought against the San Diego Correctional Facility. The first was filed in January 2007 for the dangerous and inhumane conditions inside the SDCF.