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Legal Advocate Discusses Medical Abuse At Shutdown Georgia ICE Facility

Dawn Wooten, left, a nurse at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, speaks at a Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, news conference in Atlanta protesting conditions at the immigration jail. Wooten says authorities denied COVID-19 tests to immigrants, performed questionable hysterectomies and shredded records in a complaint filed to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Dawn Wooten, left, a nurse at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, speaks at a Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, news conference in Atlanta protesting conditions at the immigration jail. Wooten says authorities denied COVID-19 tests to immigrants, performed questionable hysterectomies and shredded records in a complaint filed to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Credit Jeff Amy / AP

The decision for the Biden administration to shut down a South Georgia ICE facility came on Thursday after years of women at the facility as well as advocates claimed medical abuse.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that the federal agency has an obligation to improve the country’s civil immigration detention system.

Advocates have sounded the alarm of medical neglect and inhumane treatment for years.

Last year, a whistleblower nurse said women at the facility received gynecological care without their consent. A class-action lawsuit by a coalition of advocacy organizations followed in December 2020. It was filed on behalf of dozens of women who claimed medical abuse while in custody at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga.

WABE spoke to Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director of Project South. The group was one of the organizations that filed a lawsuit on behalf of dozens of women at Irwin. 

Shahshahani talks about the long standing issues with medical care at the Irwin and what she’d like to see next for other ICE facilities in Georgia.

She begins with when she first learned about medical neglect at Irwin more than a decade ago.