Media Contact

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

June 28, 2024

The national report includes deaths that occurred in two detention centers in Florida: Baker County Detention Center and Krome North Center Processing Center

JACKSONVILLE, FL — Earlier this week, a new report released by the American Civil Liberties Union, American Oversight, and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) exposed the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) flawed internal oversight mechanisms and failure to provide adequate medical and mental health care to people detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. This medical negligence resulted in preventable deaths of immigrants in their care. 

The report, “Deadly Failures: Preventable Deaths in U.S. Immigration Detention,” provides a comprehensive examination of the deaths of 52 people whom ICE reported to have died in its custody between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2021. Independent medical experts found that 95 percent of deaths in detention were deemed as being preventable or possibly preventable if ICE had provided clinically appropriate medical care. 

The report is one of the most comprehensive studies on deaths in ICE custody to date.  Over 14,500 pages of documents — most made public for the first time — obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, state public record act requests, and civil litigation reveal a wide array of harmful and egregious practices that are routinely occurring in many immigration detention centers. 

Of the deaths examined, seven total deaths occurred in Florida detention centers, including Baker County Detention Center (Baker), based in Macclenny, and Krome North Processing Center, based in Miami. 

Amy Godshall, legal fellow and immigrants’ rights attorney at the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following: 

“We have reported for years about how several of Florida’s immigration detention centers, like Baker, have festered neglectful and even abusive conditions for people detained in these facilities, in violation of basic human rights, and unjustifiably putting people’s lives at risk. This new report confirms what we and our partners have been saying. 

“Ben Owen, a 39-year-old British man, tragically died of suicide only 10 days after he entered Baker, despite having no demonstrated history of mental health conditions at the time of his intake. His behavior while in detention pointed to increasing levels of psychological distress. He told his wife that people in Baker are treated ‘worse than animals on the street.’ Over the 10 days he was at Baker, he made 129 phone calls to his wife, a U.S. citizen, and expressed feeling that he was losing his mind. Rather than providing him with any psychiatric care, Baker failed to check on him per their requirements, and they falsified their records pertaining to the care they should have provided him with hours before his death. 

“Guerman Volkov, a 56-year-old man from Russia, died of a bowel obstruction with gastrointestinal hemorrhage during his detention at the Baker. While detained, medical staff repeatedly failed to provide him with the care that medical providers prescribed for him, they mismanaged his prescriptions, and they failed to provide him with the recommended care after he was found unresponsive. As a result of neglect and serious errors made in managing his condition for over a year, Volkov passed as well. 

“These devastating and avoidable deaths are part of a consistent pattern of severe medical neglect within immigration detention. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (DHS CRCL) confirmed our reports of egregious conditions at Baker and their immediate concerns regarding the health and well-being of persons detained there. This is one of the many reasons why ICE should no longer contract with Baker County - people’s lives are at risk, as this report confirms.

“All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity. No one should be put through what Owen and Volkov experienced. It’s that simple. And yet, ICE and the Baker County Sheriff’s Office continue to violate civil rights and fail to provide anything close to adequate medical care, which continues to be corroborated and documented by extensive evidence.

“ICE must take responsibility for these unacceptable failures so that no other person suffers these unjustifiable abuses.”