Public Defender Groups Announce Free Legal Representation for Immigrants Involved in Hunger Strike to Protest ‘Inhumane’ Conditions at New York Facility

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By Keana Sauray

NEW YORK, NY – After the hunger strike of detained immigrants at the Orange County Correctional facility, New York Public Defenders Alexandra Lopez, Chi Nguyen, and Daniel Ball issued a statement that disclosed New York’s defender organizations’ plan of action to provide free legal representation through the New York Family Unit Project (NYIFUP) to release all immigrants.

In the statement, Lopez, et al., acknowledged the “inhumane conditions, racist and abusive treatment, and the denial of adequate medical care” immigrant inmates received each day in the facility.

The NYIFUP disseminated its support and called for the immediate release of those individuals who were being detained at the correctional facility.

“We are in solidarity with immigrants detained at Orange County Correctional Facility who have now put their bodies on the line in protest of these horrifying conditions,” the statement said.

“Jail officials and ICE have time and time again shown disregard for the health and safety of people in their custody,” continued the statement, “putting their lives at risk simply because of where they were born.”

The statement concluded with NYIFUP’s urgent call for ICE to surrender to the detainees’ hunger strike and release those under their custody.

In an interview, the Orange County Undersheriff Kenneth Jones sharply disputed the allegations of mistreatment in the correctional facility.

“I wouldn’t want you to interpret this as some sort of Gandhi thing. They are complaining about the food in jail,” he claimed. “For the last three meals, they refused the county’s meals but they’ve been ordering commissary by the ton.

“We’re an accredited jail. They’ve made a lot of allegations, some of them terrible, but none of them are true,” he continued.

Jones further explained that racist comments by the correctional guards wouldn’t be taken lightly and would be closely investigated, adding, “We have a rigid discipline system. Our officers, if they engaged in that behavior, they know they would be terminated,” he asserted.

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About The Author

Keana is a fourth year undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach. She is majoring in Criminal justice with a minor in Forensics, and plans to graduate Spring 2022. She is anticipating either continuing her education at graduate school or pursuing her career as a Homicide Detective.

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