Vaccines at North Lake

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.

#ShutDownGEO

#FreeThemAll

“They Want to Keep It Under the Rug”: Conditions at North Lake, Fall 2020

As the political situation beyond prison walls fluctuates day by day, conditions at the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin remain unacceptable, and even continue to deteriorate. Last week one of the immigrants incarcerated at North Lake told us the food was getting worse and worse; the coffee tastes “like rotten wood”; medical issues take weeks to receive attention; and staff have been talking about at least one incarcerated person “getting super sick again.” The number of COVID-19 cases reported at North Lake on the Bureau of Prisons’ online resource page has not changed for months, but this by no means indicates an absence of cases. Sometimes days have passed without the BOP even adjusting the date.

They want to keep these conditions under the rug, but we will keep exposing and challenging the horrors of this prison until it’s closed down and the people held inside are free.

A transcript is below. The recording has been edited for length.

#FreeThemAll #ShutDownGEO

TRANSCRIPT:

“I don’t know, it’s—they say it’s breaking down again, because they separated the people again. And the problem that a lot of people are having here, they’re not given enough food. We, like, been complaining about it—they refuse to give us real food. It’s getting out of control, you know, a lot of people get headaches. But they don’t … they just don’t care. The food is just getting worse and worse, every day that goes by. I don’t know if they’re running out of money, I don’t know what’s going on, but the food is getting worse and worse. And you cannot protest with them, because they always threaten you: ‘Don’t do this, because you’re gonna make it worse for yourself.’

They try to give us coffee, the coffee taste like dried wood. Like a rotten piece of wood, that’s the taste of the coffee.

The staff members over here are not trying to help you, they never, like, have an answer for you. They just—they isolate us, and we don’t have a voice over here, pretty much.

They say somebody got super sick again. That’s what the staff are saying, and they’re really short on staff, you know what I’m saying, they don’t, I mean—it’s pretty horrible here. We get treated like we’re not human beings.

Like, a person would have like a high fever. And you go and ask them for some Tylenol, and like, ‘Get a sick a call,’ and then the sick call take about a week, for them to get you to medic. They isolate us, they don’t care—like, they never have an answer for you. They refuse to give you the right information; they don’t want to.

Pretty much they’re using this prison like a big warehouse over here, you know what I mean? We don’t have none of the stuff that we’re supposed to have. Our voices are not heard. People like really mistreat us.

They say they’re not making move-ins, but they still bringing in people to the prison. Yeah, they’re still bringing people. We spend a lot of time in our cells because it takes them so long to count, you know what I mean?

I also talked to a lot of people that quit here. They straight-up told me to my face that the reason why they were quitting is because they don’t want to be punished for something, ’cause it’s like, a lot of the people here are, like, not bad people. And it’s not humanely, the way we’re being treated, and I don’t—like I said, we don’t have a voice. They don’t want nobody to know what’s going on over here, they don’t want nobody to know. They want to keep it under the rug.”