The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security released a damning report Friday detailing “unsanitary and unsafe conditions” at the Essex County Correctional Facility, the largest detention center for immigrants in the New York City region.
Under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, about 800 immigrants are held at the facility while they wait for hearings on orders of deportation, or while travel arrangements are made for their deportations.
The findings included a loaded gun left by a county jail guard in a staff bathroom. The weapon was found by an immigrant detainee who alerted officers, but the county never told ICE. Inspectors found extensive evidence that “food handling, in general, was so substandard that ICE and facility leadership had the kitchen manager replaced during our inspection.” They also documented unsanitary, moldy shower stalls and liquid dripping from ceilings in housing units, including onto detainee beds. The report indicated that many of the issues had been addressed in recent months.
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