Detainees deserve better treatment at release

Published 12:01 am Friday, April 3, 2020

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Since before Christmas, a group of Natchez citizens, loosely calling ourselves the Natchez Network, have been working together along with some area churches to provide post-release support for detainees released from Adams County.

Together we have helped more than 120 people be reunited with loved ones around the country.

I read your recent story and must say I disagree vehemently with Dan Gibson’s second proposal for action.

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The last thing that should happen is for releases to be stopped. Nearly everyone at Adams County is an asylum seeker, a person who has followed our laws and legally come to our country to ask for asylum.

Nearly all have family and friends in the U.S. waiting for them, people who can support them financially. Instead of being released to family and friends, as was U.S. policy for decades until 2017, they have been incarcerated and private companies such as Core Civic and LaSalle Corporation have earned billions of dollars paid by you and me, the U.S. taxpayers.

These men and women should be released to their families immediately unless there is a compelling reason for any specific individuals among them to be held.

The worst, the most inhumane thing we could possibly do would be to lock them into a place where they live in dorms of 50-120 people in very close quarters and with extremely limited medical facilities.

ICE should be chartering buses to transport them to their families in Houston, Dallas, Orlando, Tampa, Miami and other places.

If ICE can charter buses to transfer them from facility to facility and can charter planes to deport them to Havana and other places, they can charter buses and planes to restore them to their families.

There were factual inaccuracies in the article: 10 people were not released to the streets. They were released because our Natchez Network agreed to take them and help them get home (ICE does not release a detainee without the name and number of the person who will be picking that man or woman up).

They weren’t released with no papers. In the end, every person who needed to fly (flying has the most stringent requirements) had adequate documentation to pass through TSA screening.

Adams County Correctional Center is not releasing people onto the streets of Natchez.  It is a shame that the legitimate concerns about new transfers into Adams and about lack of medical facilities there have been overshadowed by these serious errors and the suggestion that the answer is to lock detainees and, apparently, staff into such closed, limited quarters.

Elisabeth Grant-Gibson,