Congresswoman Tlaib Tries Surprise Visit to Calhoun County Jail
13th District Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tried to make a surprise visit to see the inside of the Calhoun County Jail on Tuesday afternoon, but was denied access.
In a Facebook post, the Detroit Democrat wrote:
“My team and I drove to Calhoun County to make an unannounced visit to see the conditions of the facility where they are detaining immigrants. I was denied entry.”
Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton says that if Tlaib had called ahead, even that morning, he would have given her a tour personally.
"That's not how it works. This is a jail, and we have security measures in place for everyone's protection. This isn't an ICE facility, it's a County facility."
Congresswoman Tlaib maintains that a number of her district residents have loved ones being detained in the jail. Calhoun County has an agreement with the Federal Government to house people who are being detained for illegally entering the US. The jail also houses convicts from many other cities and counties.
Sheriff Saxton says that Congresswoman Tlaib, who is an attorney, tried to gain access by claiming to be the attorney of a detainee. But when asked to produce the required documents, she could not. Saxton says a colleague of Tlaib's also claimed to be an attorney of a detainee, and did produce the proper documents and was allowed access.
Tlaib says she was able to speak to four detainees through a barrier and phone, but said it wasn't private. She says a 26 year old woman who claims to be a survivor of human trafficking and claims to have severe PTSD told her that she has yet to get access to her prescription medication. Congresswoman Tlaib said the woman has been at the jail for 10 days and can't sleep. Sheriff Saxton says that everyone coming into the facility gets a physical, and they have medical personnel on staff 24 hours a day. Each case is reviewed by a doctor.
Tlaib claims that another woman who is a United States citizen is being mistakenly held here and had to sleep on the floor for 3 days, next to a toilet. The Sheriff says that nobody sleeps on the floor unless they choose to do so. He said sometimes portable mattresses are provided, but everyone has a bed.
Tlaib says all four detainees she talked to complained about the food smelling like it was rotten. She says one detainee who has been there since December 2018 lost 55 pounds. Sheriff Saxton says their menu provides 300 calories a day more than required by standards.
Sheriff Saxton said he and his staff had not heard any of the complaints that Congresswoman Tlaib brought up. Even so, he says he'll have staff looking into the concerns brought up by the Congresswoman. Sheriff Saxton says the facility was inspected by the Federal authorities about 10 days ago, with no problems noted.
Tlaib posted this video in front of the Calhoun County Jail.