Authorities say a Panamanian man who died of apparent suicide at an immigration detention center in Southwest Georgia had been in solitary confinement for 19 days.
Federal immigration officials said 27-year-old Jean Jimenez-Joseph was found unresponsive in his cell at the Stewart Detention Center with a sheet around his neck early Monday morning. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital in Americus, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Jimenez-Joseph had been in solitary confinement since April 27 after he had jumped from a second floor walkway at the detention center to the first floor, said Danny Jackson, special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the incident.
“They stated that he was always clowning around and trying to get attention, and whenever he did what he did – as far as jumping over the railing – they deemed that an incident that warranted placing him in solitary or isolation, which they did,” Jackson said.
Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for ICE, said Jimenez-Joseph had been placed in “disciplinary segregation” for a violation of facility rules and had been scheduled to be released this week.
ICE officials in a news release said the agency “is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases.”
They said said Jimenez-Joseph entered ICE custody in March and had been convicted or larceny of a motor vehicle in North Carolina in January.
“It’s really a horrible tragedy, and we think this could have been prevented,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at Project South, an advocacy group which recently released a report about conditions at immigrant detention centers in Georgia.
Jimenez-Joseph is the seventh person to die in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017.
WABE’s Rose Scott contributed to this story.