The current conditions at the Essex County Jail housing non violent detainees due to their undocumented status is immoral, and both ICE and our Freeholders have much to answer for. I wanted to report to the community what I learned from a public briefing that I just attended on Facebook where detainees called in to report on their experiences at the Essex County Jail. According to the briefing and NJ.com, ICE has asked Essex County to stop reporting cases. Essex County made the rapid test available, but the state and ICE are not using the results as they feel they are inaccurate.
While many families in Essex County are sheltering in our homes, detainees in the Essex County Jail report that the conditions in the jail have gone from bad to worse. The food is insufficient and unhealthy; medical care is worsening; and testing for the Coronavirus is insufficient. Detainees have no access to hand sanitizer, alcohol, or face masks. It is taking days for detainees to get medical attention after they report symptoms, and detainees with fevers and other Covid 19 symptoms are just given Tylenol. Not only does this disregard for human life put detainees at risk, this cruelty also puts the guards and their families and communities at risk.
As we try to flatten the curve for the good of the community, and while our president continues to enact laws that hurt our immigrant brothers and sisters, undocumented friends are suffering just down the road in Essex County. It is our responsibility as residents of Essex County and New Jersey to ensure that the freeholders hear us and improve conditions at the Essex County jail for detainees. The current state of the food and medical care at the jail is immoral. Please reach out to the freeholders and ask them to work to improve the conditions at the Essex County Jail; the buck stops with them.