Associated Press (AP) 7/9/2005
Detainees Win $2.5M N.J. Abuse Settlement
NEWARK, N.J. -- Immigrants who claimed they were abused at a detention center won a $2.5 million settlement from a private company that operated the center for the federal government.
After legal fees, some 1,600 detainees will divide about $1.5 million based on how long they were held and what they said was done to them, the New Jersey Law Journal reported this week.
U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, in Newark, approved the settlement Aug. 10.
The detainees were being held at the Elizabeth center between August 1994 and June 1995 for what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Many have since been deported.
The center was operated by Esmor Correctional Services, then based in Melville, N.Y., until shortly after a June 1995 riot, when about 100 immigrants broke windows, destroyed furniture and overpowered guards, claiming they had suffered physical abuse and other inhumane conditions.
The INS closed the center and fired Esmor after its investigation found that poorly trained guards abused the detainees physically and mentally, gave them spoiled food and deprived them of sleep.
The detention center reopened in January 1997 after renovations were completed by its new operator, Corrections Corp. of America, of Nashville, Tenn.
Still pending is a related lawsuit against Esmor, now known as Correctional Services Corp., of Sarasota, Fla., by nine detainees who claim that political asylum seekers were abused and harassed at the center.
The judge last year dismissed their claims against the INS and its officials, saying the government cannot be sued.
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