Constitutional Law

Worse than Prison Inmate Medical Care: Detained Immigrants' Medical Care

News media throughout the country have focused in recent years on the issue of substandard health care for prison inmates. Some 65 deaths annually in California, for instance, reportedly could be prevented by better medical treatment.

But the situation is apparently even worse for individuals held as illegal immigrants, who fall outside the bounds of standard prison regulatory oversight, reports the New York Times in two companion stories today.

In addition to delaying needed medical treatment so long that immigrants may die as a result, those in charge of immigrant detention facilities may not even tell inquiring friends and relations what has happened, let alone notify those who don’t ask, the newspaper reports in one article. Meanwhile, until recently, there was not even an official list of those who had died in custody, let alone any organized official oversight and investigation of such deaths, the Times writes.

Maya Nand, 56, was dead within less than a month of when he was taken into custody at the family’s home in Sacramento, Calif., a second Times article reports. A diabetic whose four sons, all citizens, called the facility repeatedly to seek medical help on his behalf, he was not taken to the hospital until he suffered the heart attack that soon led to his death. Nand, who was from Fiji, had originally been a legal immigrant, but he was arrested after his citizenship application was rejected.

“After the funeral, I was like, ‘I want to sue the hell out of them,’ ” one son, Jay Pranawnip Nand, 27, tells the newspaper. “I don’t want money. I just want them to realize what they have done and change the policy, because there are people dying.”

But, he says, the family couldn’t find a lawyer to pursue the case.

Related coverage: “Receiver Shakes Up CA Prison System”

The Atlantic: “The Prison-Industrial Complex”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.