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Capitol Health Call
July 9, 2008

Detainee Health

JAMA. 2008;300(2):160. doi:10.1001/jama.300.2.160-c

The federal government is providing poor medical care for immigration detainees, critics argued at a June 4 hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee.

During the hearing, Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the Department of Homeland Security, said ICE spent almost $100 million on detainee health care over the last fiscal year and noted that while the detainee population has increased by more than 30% since 2004, the number of deaths in detention declined from 29 to 7 in 2007. But Homer D. Venters, MD, an attending physician at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, in New York City, said that after adjusting for average length of detention, the data show that the mortality rate increased 29% between 2006 and 2007, from 27 to 34 per 100 000 detention-years.