Key Terms in the Careless Detention Series

Corrections Corporation of America

A private company that operates prison and other detention facilities across the country. Founded in 1983 and based in Nashville, CCA says it operates 65 facilities housing as many as 72,000 inmates of all kinds. It is a publicly traded company, listed under the symbol CXW on the New York Stock Exchange. CCA runs several immigration detention facilities, including Otay Mesa in California and a compound in Elizabeth, N.J. Its Web site is

Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS)

A small government agency responsible for medical care for immigration detainees. In some cases, it directly provides care through U.S. Public Health Service workers. In other instances, it is supposed to oversee the care that is provided under contract. Until last fall, DIHS was part of the Department of Health and Human Services, but it moved under the jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It's Web site is

Florence, Arizona

The seat of Pinal County, Florence is dominated by the business of housing prisoners and detainees. It is home to eight federal, state and local detention facilities, four of which house immigration detainees. They are the federal Florence Service Processing Center, Pinal County Jail, and two facilities owned by Corrections Corporation of America. Yong Harvill, a native of Korea who has lived in the United States for more than three decades, is detained at the county jail.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE

The federal agency responsible for immigration issues and border control. Part of the Department of Homeland Security, it was created in 2003 and consolidated the responsibilities of two preexisting agencies -- the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Customs Service. Post-Sept. 11 security measures have intensified the government's efforts to secure the borders and to find and deport illegal immigrants. As a result, the number of foreigners held in immigration detention has grown substantially -- much faster than the spending on medical care for people who are detained. The agency's Web site is

Otay Mesa

An immigration detention facility near San Diego that is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America. It is here that Yusif Osman died and where Francisco Castenada's cancer went untreated for months.

Treatment Authorization Requests (TARs)

A written request that must be sent to DIHS headquarters in Washington in advance, except in emergencies, before all but the most routine care can be provided to an immigration detainee. Four managed care coordinators, working from 8 AM to 4 PM East Coast time Monday through Friday, reviews each TAR and decides whether to permit the treatment. TARs are part of DIHS's effort to apply "managed care" solutions to detainee health care -- carefully scrutinizing requests for services as a way to control costs.

U.S. Public Health Service

Founded in the early 20th century, the Public Health Service is the government's first-responder agency for medical emergencies caused by natural disasters and infectious diseases. It is staffed by 6,000 physicians and other medical professionals. PHS personnel provide support to other government agencies. Early in its existence, the service inspected the medical conditions of immigrants arriving in America; the PHS provides support to other government agencies, including the Division of Immigration Health Services. PHS's Web site is


In Their Own Words

An index of video and audio features related to this series.

Document Archive


Read the original government documents related to the people and cases detailed in this story.

Mapping Deaths at ICE Detention Facilities

A Closer Look At 83 Deaths

Based on confidential medical records and other sources, The Washington Post identified 83 deaths of immigration detainees between March 2003, when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was created, and March 2008.

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