Daniel Zwerdling’s reporting revealed the abuses that some immigrant detainees were subjected to in federal prisons and local jails. A new study by the Government Accountability Office takes Zwerdling’s reporting one step further: not only are immigrant detainees being abused and mistreated, they are being prevented from pleading their cases due to a lack of access to phones and counsel, and some are even being denied medical care.

A recent article in THE NEW YORK TIMES reports that key parts of the detainee system are stretched beyond capacity and inmates are being sent to facilities in other states in order to relieve overcrowding. Moving inmates to another state, however, “puts stress on tenuous family bonds” making visits by family members and counsel they may try to provide much more difficult; THE NEW YORK TIMES article further argues that moves to other facilities may be “inhibiting the ability of inmates to receive health care.”

The increase in prison populations is due not only to bolstered border patrols but, as Zwerdling pointed out in his reporting, to renewed enforcement of a decade-old statute in immigration law which allows the government to indefinitely detain immigrants, even those in the country legally, if they’ve ever committed a crime, no matter how trivial.

>> Watch Zwerdling retrace his steps in EXPOSÉ’s “An Inside Job.”

The EXPOSÉ: America’s Investigative Reports series is produced by Thirteen/WNET New York in association with CIR.

Carrie Ching

Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.