National Immigrant Justice Center
208 S. LaSalle St., Suite 1818, Chicago, IL 60604
These Lives Matter: The Nightmare of Solitary Confinement
In August, the National Immigrant Justice Center and Physicians for Human Rights released Invisible in Isolation, the first study on the use of solitary confinement and segregation of immigrants detained in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This week, I wanted to share an interview I did with Bibi, an NIJC client who was held at the North Georgia Detention Center (NGDC), a jail owned by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for over one year.
During the time she was detained, Bibi, who is transgender, experienced constant segregation and solitary confinement, which in my view was arbitrary and cruel. My colleagues Keren Zwick, Jackie Reidelberger, and I heard Bibi deteriorate as we spoke to her on a weekly basis during the last seven months of her detention. We were alarmed and felt helpless about her situation. Today Bibi is out of detention but her experience, as you will hear in this interview, has marked her profoundly. She describes her time in solitary as a "Nightmare that I will live the rest of my life."
I want to thank Bibi for her courage in sharing so openly—without reservation and without hiding her identity—the trauma she endured as a result of months of isolation in solitary confinement at the NGDC. As the report by NIJC and PHR documents, Bibi is, sadly and inexcusably, not alone in her experience.
In conjunction with our report, NIJC and PHR have launched a petition calling on DHS to end the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention. Sign it and share it: http://www.immigrantjustice.org/EndSolitaryConfinement.
Interview: Claudia Valenzuela
Translation: Macarena Rodriguez
Editing: Tara Tidwell Cullen
Images via Creative Commons: