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The Knuckleheads of the Day award

Today's winners are Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls Rhode Island and its warden Wayne T. Salisbury Jr. They get the award for the following-

Federal immigration officials investigating the death of a New York computer engineer from China who died in their custody last summer said Thursday that supervisors at a Rhode Island detention center had denied the ailing man appropriate medical treatment on multiple occasions and that employees had dragged him from his cell to a van as he screamed in pain.

As they disclosed their findings, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials ordered an end to their contract with the center, the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., a locally owned jail where the engineer, Hiu Lui Ng, spent his final month after a year in immigration detention. They said they had asked that the United States attorney in Boston review the case for possible criminal prosecution.

The federal investigation began last summer, soon after The New York Times reported on the death of Mr. Ng, 34. His extensive cancer and fractured spine had gone undiagnosed, despite his pleas for help, until shortly before he died in custody on Aug. 6.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said the investigation showed that supervisors at the Wyatt detention center had in effect prevented Mr. Ng from meeting with his lawyer by refusing him the use of a wheelchair when he was too ill and in too much pain to walk.

The 33-page investigation report also found that the guards and medical staff, acting on orders of the warden, violated the jail's policy on the use of force when Mr. Ng was dragged to a van for a trip to Hartford, where his lawyers say he was pressured to withdraw all his appeals and accept deportation.

The jail's overhead surveillance video cameras captured everything. But another, hand-held camcorder turned on and off 13 times at a signal from the captain in charge, according to the report, created another version of the episode, apparently in an effort to document that Mr. Ng was faking his illness and refusing to go to the hospital for a CT scan.

*****

Last week, Wyatt announced that it was punishing seven employees in connection with the case, with penalties ranging from termination to reprimand. "We took stern and appropriate action," Mr. Bellini said.

Mr. Ng, who had no criminal record, overstayed a visa years ago and had been applying for a green card through his wife, a United States citizen, when he was taken into detention in July 2007 and shuttled through jails and detention centers in three New England states.

They falsified reports and denied a person in their medical treatment. I hope all those responsible are prosecuted for what they did. In the meantime I name Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls Rhode Island and its warden Wayne T. Salisbury Jr today's Knuckleheads of the Day.

Hat tip- Kevin Johnson at ImmigrationProf Blog


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