Report details 'unsafe' conditions at Newark detention center

Posted: Updated:
NEWARK -

The largest detention center for immigrants in the region is littered with "unsanitary and unsafe" conditions, according to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security.

The 22-page document states that detainees reported being served meat that smelled and tasted bad at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark. Officials say they then observed expired and moldy bread in the refrigerator and boxes that were leaking blood from raw chicken.

The report also states that there were leaks in the ceilings of living areas, mold in showers, peeling paint and mattresses being held together by bed sheets.

Rose Santana spends her time working with detained immigrants and didn't expect to see the conditions at the Newark center.

"We didn't think it was that horrible," said Santana, who is a visitation coordinator for First Friends of NY & NJ. "We didn't think it was that atrocious. It's unbelievable."

The Inspector General's Office also stated a detainee discovered a guard's loaded handgun in a bathroom stall. The report says that incident was not reported to ICE.

The DHS has now recommended an immediate and full review of the facility and management. The reports states this review is already taking place along with improvements to the detention center.

Facility Director Al Ortiz said in a statement, "We understand the issues raised in the inspector general's report and have taken steps to address and rectify the conditions. We are proud of our proactive approach to meet the needs of our detainees and the high standards of care that we have set for our facility."

 

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