ICE detention facility dentists report no cleanings in 4 years, recommend detainees to use sock string to floss

Dentists

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The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General visited the Adelanto (Calif.) Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center for an inspection in May.

After various interviews with detainees and facility staff, the inspector general found the facility posed significant health and safety risks. When considering dental care standards, ICE expects detention centers to provide dental care after an individual has been in detention for six months. Dental care includes cleanings, checkups and procedures.

At Adelanto ICE Processing Center, staff do not include a detainee's time at another facility as part of the six months. Instead, a person is added to the waitlist for care after being at the Adelanto center for six months. This information was corroborated through records and staff.

Making it on the waitlist, however, does not guarantee care. There are two dentists at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center who are responsible for treating up to 1,940 detainees. Records at the center indicate no one had undergone a cleaning in four years. Shortly after the May inspection, dentists began conducting cleanings.

Over the past four years, the dentists have identified numerous cavities; however, no cavity has been filled in the last four years. Detainees have reported teeth falling out while being waitlisted for care.

Dentists were asked why no cleanings were performed and cavities were filled. They responded that the dentists do not have time to do the cleanings and screenings and therefore cannot conduct fillings. Extractions are offered to the detainees, although many have to wait months to undergo treatment.

In an interview with the Office of Inspector General, a dentist at the center said he provided palliative care. He indicated individuals need to focus on brushing and flossing. However, floss is only available through commissary accounts. As a solution, the dentist suggested detainees use sock string to floss.

The report recommended ICE conduct a full review of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center.

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