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“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University

17. Deadly Medical Neglect for Immigrants in Privatized US Jails

Over one hundred inmates in privatized, immigrant-only prisons have died, many in disturbing circumstances involving negligent medical and mental health care, Seth Freed Wessler reported for the Nation in January 2016.

Wessler’s article documented the deadly consequences of medical neglect in eleven immigrant-only prisons, known as Criminal Alien Requirement facilities. From 1998 to 2014, at least 137 inmates died in these special immigrant-only facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and the Management and Training Corporation under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

Wessler’s report was based on more than 9,000 pages of medical records for 103 of the inmates who died in custody since the BOP first opened contract facilities. He fought over two years to obtain these files, using FOIA requests and ultimately a federal lawsuit to compel the BOP to release the records.

The Nation convened a panel of twenty-three independent reviewers, including seventeen medical doctors and six psychiatrists, to review the files. In twenty-five cases, multiple reviewers found evidence of inadequate care that likely contributed to an inmate’s premature death. By contrast, in just thirty-nine cases did the reviewers find that care had likely been in accordance with recognized medical standards.

Unlike prisons that are run directly by the federal government—including immigration detention centers, where federal authorities typically hold immigrants pending deportation—these private, for-profit institutions are not held to the same standards. “Though the prisons are part of the federal infrastructure, the private contractors that run them operate under a different—and less stringent—set of rules in order to allow cost-cutting innovations,” Wessler wrote.  (For background on the economics and politics of privatized prisons, see “Private Prison Companies Fund Anti-Immigrant Legislation,” Censored story #5 from Censored 2012.)

As a result, men with cancer, AIDS, mental illness, and liver and heart disease endured critical delays in care, prison medical units failed to make correct diagnoses of patients with obvious and painful symptoms, and inmates died of treatable diseases that they likely would have survived with access to adequate care.

The medical files documented at least seven suicides in the BOP’s immigrant-only contract prisons. One BOP official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Wessler, “In regular BOP prisons, mental-health treatment is part of the mission, because rehabilitation is part of the mission … For criminal-alien prisons, it’s just, ‘Hold them.’” Seven of the thirteen privatized facilities were not compliant with the standards for adequate mental health care.

Furthermore, licensed vocational nurses (or LVNs, who are meant to function as support staff for registered nurses or medical doctors) were often inmates’ sole medical providers. “In 19 of the 103 deaths we reviewed,” Wessler wrote, “at least one doctor flagged the overextension of LVNs as an inadequacy in care.”

Forty percent of the men held in these prisons were incarcerated for “immigration-related” crimes for which only noncitizens can be convicted, including, for example, trying to re-enter the US after being deported. Until the 1990s, this crime was rarely ever prosecuted. The privatization of US prisons began in the late 1990s, as an effort by President Bill Clinton’s administration to reduce the size of the federal workforce and to cut costs in the federal prison system.

An extensive search of corporate media coverage yielded just three somewhat comparable reports, each dating back to 2009, on the subject of inmate deaths in private prisons. Two of those articles were from the New York Times, with another from the Washington Post. More recently, corporate news has focused on exposing the costs of incarcerating immigrants, or comparing the frequency with which illegal immigrants and US citizens are convicted of rape or murder, as in reports from CNN and Fox News. The deadly medical neglect of inmates in privatized, immigrant-only prisons—as documented by Seth Freed Wessler for the Nation—has gone unreported in the US corporate press.

Seth Freed Wessler, “This Man Will Almost Certainly Die,” Nation, January 28, 2016,

Seth Freed Wessler, “A Guide to Our Investigation of Deaths Inside the Federal Bureau of Prison’s Immigrant-Only Facilities,” Nation, January 28, 2016,

Seth Freed Wessler, interview by Juan González and Amy Goodman, “‘This Man Will Almost Certainly Die’: The Secret Deaths of Dozens at Privatized Immigrant-Only Jails,” broadcast February 9, 2016, Democracy Now!, transcript,

Student Researchers: Aliana Ruiz (Citrus College), Alexandra Castillo (California Maritime Academy), Justin Lascano (Diablo Valley College), and Harrison Hartman (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluators: Nolan Higdon (California Maritime Academy), Andy Lee Roth (Citrus College), and Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)

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