[floridaleft] [immigrant rights/FL] Sexual abuse fears reach beyond Krome (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Thu Jan 11 16:52:02 MST 2001


forwarded by Michael Hoover

> Published Sunday, January 7, 2001, in the Miami Herald
>
> Sexual abuse fears reach beyond Krome
>
> Inquiry underway as women detainees allege incidents at second Dade
> facility
>
> BY KARL ROSS
> kross at herald.com
>
> Women inmates whisked out of the Krome Detention Center last month
> amid a sexual abuse scandal may not be any safer against would-be
> predators in their new confines.
>
> Two days after after being admitted to a Miami-Dade County jail, a
> number of the women allegedly were ``flashed'' by a male inmate. In
> a separate incident that same day, another female inmate was
> allegedly the victim of a sexual attack.
>
> ``The irony is not lost on these women,'' said Cheryl Little,
> executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which
> pushed for the women's removal from Krome but also fought their
> relocation to the Turner Guilford Knight Correction Center.
>
> ``The women were supposedly transferred for their own protection,
> and they're telling me they're every bit as vulnerable as they were
> at Krome,'' Little said.
>
> The Dec. 12 transfer to TGK was prompted by allegations that male
> detention officers at Krome were preying on the women, intimidating
> or enticing them into sexual favors. Federal agents are
> investigating. Already one Krome officer, Lemar Smith, has been
> charged with sexually assaulting a transsexual detainee from Mexico.
>
> The latest incidents on Dec. 14 have fueled the fears of immigration
> advocates and, according to immigration officials, triggered an
> internal investigation at TGK. The 1,000-bed, maximum-security jail
> houses male, female and juvenile offenders.
>
> County corrections spokeswoman Janelle Hall confirmed that TGK's
> internal affairs department has an open investigation concerning the
> women inmates from Krome.
>
> ``Whether it's sexual or not, I haven't been told,'' Hall said.
>
> Hall said no details about the investigation were available. But
> several women have recounted the incidents to private attorneys.
>
> Little said the first incident occurred when a male inmate, part of
> a supervised work crew at the jail, ``exposed himself'' to a group
> of women. The women, she said, were supposed to be segregated from
> male inmates and overseen by women officers.
>
> That same day, according to the accounts by the women, another male
> inmate allegedly followed one of the women into a room in the
> facility and began to kiss and fondle her.
>
> Little said she blames the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
> Service for the predicament, saying the women are being ``unduly
> punished and victimized.'' She said the women are placed in
> ``lockdown'' -- a security measure in which inmates are confined to
> their rooms or cells -- whenever a man, inmate or otherwise, is
> present.
>
> INS spokeswoman Patricia Mancha said John Shewairy, chief of staff
> for the agency's Florida District, was unavailable for comment. She
> also confirmed TGK officials have launched an internal probe into
> ``reports of alleged misconduct by county trustees.''
>
> Mancha said the agency learned of the sexual abuse allegations by
> women inmates ``immediately'' after they were reported, and relayed
> the information to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is
> overseeing the inquiry into misconduct at Krome.
>
> ``The important thing is we don't police ourselves,'' Mancha said.
> ``We make it known to the proper authorities so they can take action
> and investigate.''
>
> Mancha added that the INS will do ``whatever it takes'' to ensure
> the women detainees under its custody are housed in a suitable
> environment.
>
> The Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which represents many of the
> women transferred out of Krome, petitioned Attorney General Janet
> Reno for their release from TGK.
>
> The center wants the women either to be released or transferred to
> privately run shelters.
>
> Little said the maximum-security setting also encumbers the women's
> access to legal counsel, resulting in delays to their asylum
> applications. About 60 of the 100 or so women are asylum seekers;
> the remaining women are ``criminal aliens'' awaiting deportation.





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