An Inside Look into the Roberto Medina-Martinez case

GDWpic2-300x278.jpgIt was a hot afternoon driving through the off roads in Alabama. I had no phone signal or GPS—but luckily, Marilyn McGinnis from Alterna, a non-profit immigrant advocacy group based in Lumpkin, GA agreed to accompany me to meet Bryan Holcomb, an ex-CCA quality assurance manager at Stewart Detention Center—the largest private prison facility in the US—to interview an ex-CCA employee.

I received the lead from Anton Flores, founder of Alterna and a Georgia Detention Watch leader. Anton told me he knew of an ex-CCA employee that may be willing to talk about the health and social conditions inside Stewart that detainees, including undocumented immigrants, face. I didn’t know what to expect as Marilyn and I drove from Lumpkin, GA to Alabama to meet Bryan. I called Bryan during my weekend stay at El Refugio—and he told me that I would have to go interview him that same day—he was soon to be leaving town. My immediate instinct was to say yes—even though I had not been able to properly prepare by drafting the appropriate questions. I packed up my HVX—and there I was on the road with Marilyn to interview him.

Bryan’s welcoming demeanor and insightful observations were refreshing. What he revealed to me that afternoon—about his experiences working at Stewart were not surprising. In fact, much of his testimony is in tune with the research I have done on CCA and how this for profit industry literally cuts costs in order to make immense profits. The Roberto Medina-Martinez piece is but a glimpse of what Bryan revealed to me that afternoon.

The video which highlights Roberto Martinez-Medina’s death at Stewart Detention Center is but a snapshot of the insidious practices that the private prison industry is able to get away with. After reviewing the claim case as filed by a lawyer that represents Medina’s case, it reveals that Medina’s death was attributed not only to inadequate assessments made by a sub-par doctor but also a delay in medical treatment. According to the claim, Stewart “had over 1000 physical exams that were not reviewed by the doctor within a one year period including the one performed for Mr. Medina.” Even more importantly, Bryan tried to push the FBI to investigate the case. He contacted their office on what he felt “was a denial of basic human rights to Roberto Medina.” To this date, the FBI has yet to respond to Bryan’s inquiries. CCA has attempted to cover-up the incident–this is simply unacceptable.

If CCA has allowed this to happen at Stewart—what other major discrepancies—and possibly equally fatal occurrences—are occurring in private prisons all over the country? One can only begin to imagine how many deaths could have been prevented if these so-called reputable private prisons were held accountable for their deplorable actions. Martinez-Medina didn’t have to die—he was arrested because he didn’t have a driver’s license. This minor infraction made Medina an easy and disposable commodity to add to the private prison industry pipeline. If CCA is not held accountable for these discrepancies, then who is to say we can have trust in the democratic infrastructure this country so proudly upholds and supposedly abides by? Only you—the voter, taxpayer, citizen, immigrant or not—can make a difference by voicing what CCA and these private companies don’t want to hear. It all starts with you. Please sign the petition today at

Iliana Sosa


Story Producer, Immigrants for Sale

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