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With virus inside and outside its walls, Central Falls detention facility faces a class-action lawsuit

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With virus inside and outside its walls, Central Falls detention facility faces a class-action lawsuit

The Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I. CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — The Wyatt Detention Facility has become a hot spot within a hot spot, with 46 detainees and 12 staff members testing positive for the coronavirus, while the surrounding city of Central Falls suffers from the highest COVID-19 rate in the state.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit seeking the “conditional release” of 70 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees. And now a federal court judge has provisionally certified that class of immigration detainees.

“Central Falls has the highest rate of COVID-19 in the state, and in the middle of it you have this major outbreak,” ACLU of Rhode Island cooperating attorney Jared A. Goldstein said Friday. “This is an emergency. People’s lives are at risk, including the lives of the staff at Wyatt and anyone who comes into contact with that facility.”

The concentration of coronavirus deaths in Rhode Island nursing homes shows that congregate living and COVID-19 are a “deadly combination,” Deborah S. Gonzalez, also an ACLU lawyer, said.

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“The immigrants being held there should not be subject to a death sentence,” she said. “Since ICE won’t release these detainees and prevent their possible death, we had no choice but to file this lawsuit.”

Wyatt, a nonprofit prison run by a quasi-public corporation, had no comment on the ACLU lawsuit, spokesman Christopher D. Hunter said.But in a […]

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