The Commonwealth of Virginia must immediately conduct an emergency health inspection of the Farmville and Caroline County immigration detention centers. ICE is continuing to arrest and detain immigrants from all parts of the Commonwealth, and state health authorities have a duty to protect the detainees, staff, and surrounding communities from an outbreak of COVID-19. The Commonwealth needs to know if the detention centers have put adequate infection control measures in place and if they can provide adequate medical treatment should an outbreak occur.
If adequate protective measures are not found to be in place in either detention center, the state should immediately suspend its license to operate and take any other actions necessary until they have fully complied with health and safety requirements.
Since the state of emergency was declared in Virginia, LAJC has received alarming reports of deteriorating conditions at the detention centers: little to no testing, entire dormitories quarantined, withholding of hygiene products like soap and hand sanitizer, difficulty reaching detainees by phone, and a hunger strike at Farmville, to name a few examples.
While the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Public Safety, Brian Moran, claimed on Friday April 10 that the state has “no jurisdiction” over Virginia’s two ICE detention centers, we know that this is not true. These detention centers are not owned or even run by ICE: the Farmville detention center is run by a private for-profit corporation, and the Caroline County facility operates out of a regional jail run by the county. And under Virginia law, the Virginia Department of Health can inspect any entity’s compliance with health standards—including private companies and local jails.
We urge the Commonwealth to not wait until the first confirmed case in either center, much less the first death, before conducting an inspection. Across the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 within jails, prisons, and detention centers are increasing at an alarming rate, and Virginia must act now to do everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for any incarcerated person, which includes those detained in Farmville and Caroline County.
It will take all concerned residents of Virginia and beyond to send a clear message: the Commonwealth of Virginia must exercise its authority to inspect and enforce health standards! You can take action now by calling Governor Northam and urging him to order an inspection!
Suggested Call Script
My name is ________, and I’m calling out of concern for the health conditions of the people detained at Caroline County and Farmville ICE detention centers. As incarcerated people are at an extremely high risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and as ICE has a track record of poor transparency and little care for those detained by them, I urge you to immediately order an inspection of both detention centers for proper health standards. It is important to know how those detained within the centers are being treated and for the health guidelines to be enforced for all. Inspect Caroline County and Farmville detention centers now and make the findings known to the public!