Federal immigration officials terminate contract with RI detention facility after inmate death

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Federal immigration officials have terminated their contract with a detention facility following an investigation into the death of an inmate, and several members of the local board that oversees the jail have been replaced.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the federal agency notified officials at Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls of the cancellation Thursday.

The decision comes after the end of ICE’s investigation into the death of Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng, a Chinese immigrant accused of overstaying a visa who died from cancer while in the facility’s care.

“We found a consistent lack of communication regarding Mr. Ng’s health care needs between security personnel and medical staff,” Nantel said.
Last month, ICE pulled all 153 of its immigration detainees out of the facility after Ng’s death.
Ng’s family claimed he was denied proper care, including use of a wheelchair despite suffering severe back pain.

Some of ICE’s findings mirror allegations by lawyers from the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union” which is representing Ng’s family.

Among other findings, ICE concluded that Ng was not allowed proper use of a wheelchair, and that doing so “constructively denied him access to a medical appointment” and a meeting with an attorney, Nantel said.

ICE’s investigation did not examine the quality of medical care Ng received or the conditions at the facility generally.

A spokesman for Wyatt and Warden Wayne Salisbury declined to comment or confirm the termination of the contract. Officials there have disciplined seven guards in Ng’s case but have said they did not contribute to Ng’s death.

The facility is run in part by the small city of Central Falls through a quasi-public agency called the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation.

Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau said he was disappointed with ICE’s decision, but he was also concerned about allegations raised in the agency’s report.

“Regardless of the situation, if you’re in a detention facility you still need to be treated with respect,” he said.

With ICE pulling out all its detainees, the city will lose more than $260,000 this year, he said.

Moreau has replaced three of his own appointees to the board at Wyatt, is looking to alter the facility’s command structure and wants a new law enforcement officer to take over the board, he said, “so we can present our case to ICE and ask them to bring detainees back to the Wyatt facility.”

Jack McConnell, a volunteer attorney for the ACLU, declined to comment on ICE’s report until he had a chance to review it.

“The insensitivity of ICE to Jason Ng’s family is astonishing,” he said. “You would think they would have had the decency to alert the family first.”

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