A Cuban man who was held at an immigration detention center in southwest Georgia died Tuesday night, the third person to die who had been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in Georgia within the past year.
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ICE said in a news release that Yulio Castro-Garrido, 33, died at a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Castro had been diagnosed with pneumonia while at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, and was taken to an area hospital in Cuthbert, Georgia, on Jan. 7. Officials said Castro had initially resisted medical treatment, which they said “caused his condition to worsen.”
Two days later, Castro was transported to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, where he was put on a ventilator, and then transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville on Jan. 17. ICE officials said Castro went into a coma on Jan. 22 and did not regain consciousness.
Castro is the second person who had been detained at Stewart Detention Center to die in the last year, and the third detainee to die in Georgia. Last May, a 27-year-old Panamanian man died of suicide while being held in solitary confinement at Stewart. Just days after, a 58-year-old Indian man died after being held at Atlanta Detention Center.
Castro is the second person to die in ICE custody nationwide this fiscal year.
“ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive review of this incident, as it does in all such cases,” the agency said in the news release. “Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the rate of the U.S. detained population as a whole.”
The agency said its review will be conducted by senior leadership, and that the agency has contacted the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the ICE office of Professional Responsibility.
“This is tragically the third death in Georgia immigration detention centers in less than a year, ” said Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at the advocacy group Project South in an e-mailed statement. “As our year-long documentation showed, access to healthcare at Stewart is grossly inadequate. As such, many questions surround this death.”
Andrew Free, attorney for the family of Jean Jimenez-Joseph, the 27-year-old man who died at Stewart in May, said he’s still waiting for the agency’s detainee death review in that case.
“The third death in less than 12 months is an indicator of a larger problem,” he said. “It tells me that we still don’t have a good idea of what we need to do to ensure adequate medical care and prevent serious harm and death for detainees in Georgia.”