September 9, 2021

One Year After Dawn Wooten’s Disclosures of Immigrant Abuse, Irwin County Detention Center Finally Moves Out All Detained Immigrants

WASHINGTON—Almost one year after Government Accountability Project whistleblower client and nurse Dawn Wooten disclosed medical abuses at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC), the federal government has finally moved out all detained immigrants.

The removal of detained immigrants follows an announcement by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas in May to end the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract with ICDC, stating “We will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.”  The decision was prompted in part by ongoing investigations into the disclosures made by Ms. Wooten in formal whistleblower complaints filed in September 2020 to the DHS Office of Inspector General and Congress, where she reported abuses including shredding medical requests from detainees, failing to protect against spread of COVID-19, and performing unnecessary hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures on detained immigrant women with dubious consent.

While we commend this recent development, we recognize it is just one step forward down a long path of achieving justice for detained immigrants as well as for Ms. Wooten, who has suffered retaliation ever since bravely blowing the whistle internally to management, and ongoing since viral coverage of her disclosures to the OIG.

Dana Gold, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel and lead counsel for Ms. Wooten, commented:

“Dawn Wooten’s story shows the power of information provided by whistleblowers to expose wrongdoing and promote accountability. It also shows the cost whistleblowers too often bear for their truth-telling. We hope that Ms. Wooten will soon receive the justice she too deserves for suffering reprisal for reporting the conditions and mistreatment that prompted the end of immigration detention at ICDC. She deserves no less.”

Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202.926.3304

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.