A US Senate investigation into Irwin Detention Center in South Georgia found widespread medical abuse of women held there in immigrant detention. Irwin was the focus of a 2021 federal whistleblower complaint after a nurse alerted attorneys to alleged abuse.
The investigation found that female inmates were subjected to excessive, invasive and often unnecessary gynecological procedures – including partial removal of the cervix and hysterectomies – often without consent.
US Senator for Georgia Jon Ossoff led the investigation.
“Among the serious abuses this subcommittee has been investigating over the past two years,” Senator Ossoff said, “one of the most nightmarish and shameful is subjecting female inmates to non-consensual and unnecessary gynecological surgeries.”
The investigation focused on Dr. Mahendra Amin, accused of carrying out these procedures.
Karina Cisneros Preciado was held in Irwin for seven months. She was breastfeeding her four-month-old daughter and has no criminal record. Despite this, she was jailed for her immigration status.
She asked for a postpartum checkup and was referred to Dr. Amin who didn’t explain what he was doing.
“I had suffered from sexual assault since I was a child. That kind of… the experience with Dr. Amin made me feel the same way,” she said before the Senate subcommittee investigating abuses. “I felt… it made me feel like I had no control over my body. I had nothing to say. No voting, no nothing.
The patients were referred by the private prison company that operates Irwin-LaSalle Corrections to Dr. Amine transferred. The report shows he received referrals despite being dropped from an insurance provider over a series of misconduct lawsuits and being sued by the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
dr Amin holds his medical license but does not have board certification from the National Gynecology Oversight Group.
He was unavailable for comment at his Douglas, Ga. medical office, where he currently treats OBGYN patients. But Scott Grubman, an attorney representing him, said in an email that his client only conducted the necessary procedures.
But experts testifying before Congress said Dr. Amin’s invasive exams and procedures are relics of care from forty years ago. dr Amin did not follow current medical guidelines. And the expert scrutiny documented in the Senate report shows that the doctor gave almost all of his patients the same procedures, regardless of the diagnosis.
Azadeh Shashahani is the legal director of Project South, the advocacy group that helped file the first whistleblower complaint.
Everything we said about the medical abuse of migrant women has been validated as a result of this extensive 18-month Senate investigation,” she said.”
At the hearing, representatives from ICE Health Service Corps and LaSalle Corrections described a medical system that lacked accountability.
Stewart Smith is Associate Director of the ICE Health Service Corps. He said there are now review standards and accountability procedures in place to prevent medical abuse. But Shashahani says the pattern of abuse against women seeking medical attention in detention facilities continues at the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia.
Stewart is now accepting women in immigration detention after ICE ended his contract with Irwin. And Stewart is currently being investigated over allegations of sexual assault against a male nurse.
In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security is still investigating Irwin, and Dr. Amin is running a civil case.