El Refugio Expresses Condolences To The Family Of Jean Carlos Jiménez- Joseph
27 year old died of suicide on May 15, 2017 while in ICE custody at the Stewart Detention Center
May 17, 2017
Lumpkin, GA. As a ministry of hospitality and visitation that is committed to walking alongside those detained at the Stewart Detention Center (SDC) and their families, we want to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Jean Carlos Jiménez-Joseph, who died early Monday morning while in custody at the Stewart Detention Center. We especially offer our condolences to his mother, who is experiencing the pain of having lost her 27-year-old son. Our prayers are with the family in this time of suffering.
For several weeks, El Refugio was in contact with his mother, who expressed concern for his well-being. On Saturday, May 13th, his mother visited him at Stewart Detention Center. After her visit, she stopped by El Refugio and requested that a volunteer visit him the following day. A volunteer attempted to visit him on Sunday, but was turned away because of the conditions of his segregation (solitary confinement). At Stewart, detained immigrants in segregation have restricted visitation. The next day, Monday, May 15th, Jean Carlos was found unconscious in his cell at 12:45 a.m. The Stewart County EMS responders arrived at the detention center and took him to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center — in Americus, Georgia, roughly 45 minutes away from SDC — where he was pronounced dead.
Volunteers of El Refugio were immediately contacted by the family upon learning of Jean Carlos’s death. On May 15, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a statement acknowledging that Jean Carlos was pronounced dead at the hospital, and reported the death to be self-inflicted. To date, ICE has not provided the family with detailed information regarding the cause of his death.
“We are gravely concerned that Jean Carlos may not have received the mental health services he required while detained” said Marie Marquart, Chair of El Refugio’s Board of Directors. “His solitary confinement,” continued Marquart, “may have exacerbated his isolation and further impacted any mental health issues.” This is especially concerning as the effects of solitary have been repeatedly studied and linked to deterioration of mental health.
Immigrants in detention not only experience prolonged detention, but dehumanization and a lack of basic care, as documented in a recent report by Project South. The death of Jean Carlos is disturbing and heart-breaking. El Refugio will continue to walk alongside families suffering through the detainment of their loved ones, and are committed to breaking the silence of suffering within ICE custody. To all who loved Jean Carlos, our hearts are with you and our voices will not be silent.
Or Marie Marquardt