Immigrants incarcerated at the North Lake Correctional Facility finally received the COVID-19 vaccine last month, after a year of disastrous mismanagement and neglect on the part of the GEO Group which has resulted in extensive suffering and fear throughout the facility and at least two deaths. We continue to mourn the loss of Félix Repilado Martínez and Chi Cuong Hoang, who should never have been locked up in Baldwin in the first place and who passed away last year, as well as Jesse Jerome Dean, who died at the Calhoun County Jail in February almost immediately after being transferred away from North Lake.
These vaccines should have come much earlier; and, given GEO’s long record of secrecy, abuse and deceit, we strongly doubt that the numbers of COVID cases and deaths that have been reported at North Lake reflect the reality of the situation. As the article linked above also notes, COVID cases at the facility don’t factor into the Lake County totals, though vaccinations do. While we welcome this overdue news, there is no way to deny the immense harm that North Lake has caused both the people incarcerated there and the wider community in Lake County, and this facility can’t be shut down soon enough.