Tornadoes, extreme weather tear through southern Plains

Extreme weather continued to batter huge swaths of the Midwest and the southern Plains on Tuesday, leaving survivors just grateful they weren’t killed or seriously injured. A tree crashed through the home More »

MBS RECAP: Bonds Make Good on Threats of Weakness

Bonds have been threatening to end their pleasantly surprising stint of gains over the past few weeks on each of the past 4 business days.  Yesterday’s weakness was technically enough to start More »

MBS RECAP: Bonds Make Good on Threats of Weakness

Bonds have been threatening to end their pleasantly surprising stint of gains over the past few weeks on each of the past 4 business days.  Yesterday’s weakness was technically enough to start More »

Together again? Kristen Stewart reunites with ex Stella Maxwell

Together again? Kristen Stewart had dinner with her ex-girlfriend Stella Maxwell on Monday, May 20. The former couple stepped out for a low-key night in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles More »

Together again? Kristen Stewart reunites with ex Stella Maxwell

Together again? Kristen Stewart had dinner with her ex-girlfriend Stella Maxwell on Monday, May 20. The former couple stepped out for a low-key night in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles More »

Together again? Kristen Stewart reunites with ex Stella Maxwell

Together again? Kristen Stewart had dinner with her ex-girlfriend Stella Maxwell on Monday, May 20.

The former couple stepped out for a low-key night in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles before heading back to Stewart’s nearby home. The Twilight star, 29, rocked a white button-down shirt, ripped black jeans, mid-calf socks, a pair of old sneakers, a red and blue headband and wayfarer sunglasses.

The model, also 29, tried to keep a low profile with similar shades, which she paired with a navy T-shirt, rolled-up jeans and black sneakers.

Kristen Stewart Reunites With Ex Stella Maxwell for Dinner Amid Sara Dinkin Romance
Kristen Stewart steps out for a dinner date with ex-girlfriend Stella Maxwell in Los Feliz, California, on May 20, 2019.BACKGRID

“Stella is saying that she is just friends with Kristen,” a source tells Us Weekly.

Us exclusively confirmed in December 2018 that Stewart and Maxwell, who once lived together, had called it quits after dating for nearly two years. “They stopped seeing eye to eye and were living very different lives,” a source said at the time, noting that being long-distance “didn’t help” their relationship.

The actress quickly moved on with stylist Sara Dinkin, with whom she was first spotted in late December. The new couple spent the holidays together in L.A. and more recently attended Coachella in April. They were spotted kissing and holding hands at the Indio, California, music festival during The 1975’s set.

Prior to Maxwell and Dinkin, Stewart dated her Twilight costar Robert Pattinson from 2009 to 2012. She cheated on him with her married Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, but Stewart and Pattinson, 33, were briefly linked again in 2013. She later romanced visual effects producer Alicia Cargile and singers Stephanie “Soko” Sokolinski and St. Vincent.

Up Next

See Gallery




Ambiguity is my favorite thing ever. In terms of sexuality? For sure,” Stewart told Mastermind Magazine in September 2018. “And also in making films, if you perfectly answer every question, you don’t allow for people to have their own experience and really indulge in thought. I feel that same way about how we f–k each other. You don’t want to know everything all the time.”

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2019/05/21/together-again-kristen-stewart-reunites-with-ex-stella-maxwell/23732229/

Thousands of immigrants suffer in solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers

Dulce Rivera lived for the one hour a day she was allowed to walk outside on a patch of concrete surrounded by metal fencing.

The 36-year-old transgender woman from Central America was locked in solitary confinement at a New Mexico detention center that housed immigrants in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For 23 hours a day, she remained alone in a cell, with no one to talk to and nothing to distract from her increasingly dark thoughts.

“You never know what day it is, what time it is,” said Rivera, who has struggled with mental illness. “Sometimes you never see the sun.”

Rivera was placed in isolation because of allegations, later determined to be unfounded, that she had kissed and touched other detainees, records show.

Nearly four weeks into her stint in solitary, she lost her will to live. She fashioned a noose from a torn blanket and hanged herself from the cell’s ceiling vent — only to be saved by a passing guard.

Rivera was rushed to a hospital. Upon her return to the detention center, she was labeled a suicide threat and placed back in solitary, under even more restrictions.

Image: Dulce Rivera, a transgender woman from Central America, was detained by ICE in 2017 and placed in the transgender unit at Cibola.

Rivera’s case is not unique.

Thousands of others were outlined in a trove of government documents that shed new light on the widespread use of solitary confinement for immigrant detainees in ICE custody under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

The documents paint a disturbing portrait of a system where detainees are sometimes forced into extended periods of isolation for reasons that have nothing to do with violating any rules.

Disabled immigrants in need of a wheelchair or cane. Those who identify as gay. Those who report abuse from guards or other detainees.

Only half of the cases involved punishment for rule violations. The other half were unrelated to disciplinary concerns — they involve the mentally ill, the disabled or others who were sent to solitary largely for what ICE described as safety reasons.

A Guatemalan man spent two months in solitary confinement at a county jail in Maryland. The reason: he had a prosthetic leg.

A mentally ill Ukrainian man was put in isolation for 15 days at a detention facility in Arizona. His offense: putting half a green pepper in one of his socks.

Up Next

See Gallery




In nearly a third of the cases, segregated detainees were determined by ICE to have a mental illness, a population especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of isolation.

“We have created and continue to support a system that involves widespread abuse of human beings,” said Ellen Gallagher, a policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Gallagher, who is speaking publicly for the first time, has spent the past five years trying to sound the alarm within the federal government about the rampant use of solitary confinement on vulnerable people in ICE custody.

“People were being brutalized,” she said

The data, along with a review of thousands of pages of documents, including detention records and court filings, and interviews with dozens of current and former detainees from across the globe – India to Egypt to Nicaragua – offers an expansive look at how the practice of solitary confinement has been used in the nation’s civil immigration detention system.

The bulk of the records, which document solitary cases between March 2012 and March 2017, were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared through a partnership with NBC News and five other news organizations.

Image: A guard escorts an immigrant detainee from his segregation cell back to general population at the Adelanto Detention Facility in California on Nov. 15, 2013.

The agency’s own directives say that placing detainees in solitary – or “segregated housing,” as the agency calls it – is “a serious step that requires careful consideration of alternatives.” Vulnerable detainees, such as the mentally ill, should only be placed in segregation as a last resort, according to ICE policy.

But the documents raise questions about whether ICE is following its own guidelines. Gallagher, for her part, is convinced that it is not.

“Solitary confinement was being used as the first resort, not the last resort,” she said.

The newly-obtained data documents 8,488 cases of immigrant detainees placed in isolation over the five-year period. But those figures represent only a portion of all the instances of solitary confinement in ICE’s vast network of detention centers.

According to ICE, the agency only tracks cases in which detainees have a “special vulnerability,” such as the mentally ill, or were put in solitary for more than 14 days.

One out of every 200 detainees spend time in isolation for at least two weeks, according to ICE data. In a statement to NBC News, an agency spokesperson defended its use of the practice.

ICE “is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody,” the spokesperson said. “The use of restrictive housing in ICE detention facilities is exceedingly rare, but at times necessary, to ensure the safety of staff and individuals in a facility. ICE’s policy governing the use of special management units protects detainees, staff, contractors, and volunteers from harm by segregating certain detainees from the general population for both administrative and disciplinary reasons.”

The spokesperson added that ICE uses such practices to ensure that detainees “reside in safe, secure and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement.”

“Can you please help me?”

As the name suggests, solitary confinement separates individuals from the general population, housing them alone in a cell where their movements and privileges are highly restricted.

In isolation, they are typically locked down for at least 22 hours a day, with limited access to recreation or contact with other human beings. Depending on the restrictions, individuals in solitary can be limited or outright denied access to phone calls, visitation, books, or personal items, such as photographs of loved ones.

The experience, according to those who have lived it, can be harrowing. Some current and former detainees told NBC News that their time in isolation drove them to attempt suicide or commit other acts of self-harm. The detainees described a wide array of suffering, including night terrors, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, insomnia — psychological trauma that lasted long after their release from custody.

“After that first or second week, I lost my mind,” Ayo Oyakhire, a 52-year-old Nigerian, said of his nearly seven weeks in isolation at the ICE unit in Atlanta’s jail. “Sometimes I feel like someone is choking me. I have flashbacks, like I’m still confined in that little room.”

“I am not normal,” said Karandeep Singh, a 29-year-old Sikh from northern India who was moved to solitary confinement in the El Paso Processing Center in Texas, after he refused meals to protest his impending deportation.

Singh said that after more than two weeks in isolation, he bashed his head into his cell wall in an attempt to kill himself. “It was mental torture,” Singh said.

Several states have enacted restrictions on the practice, or banned it outright for certain populations, including juveniles and the mentally ill. Texas recently banned “punitive” solitary as punishment for breaking the rules. In Colorado, state inmates cannot be held in solitary confinement for longer than 15 days. President Barack Obama banned the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.

Experts say even short stays in isolation can cause severe, and long-lasting, psychological and physical damage. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has said that solitary confinement can amount to “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” and that isolation for more than 15 days should be banned, except in exceptional circumstances.

The number of immigrants in custody has reached historic levels, with a daily average of 50,000 immigrants in more than 200 detention centers across the country, including county jails and facilities operated by private prison providers. Those in ICE custody are not facing criminal charges, and their detention is not intended to be punitive. They are in custody for civil immigration violations such as overstaying their visas or being in the country illegally. Some are awaiting deportation or court dates. Some are asylum seekers.

Similar to a criminal setting, officers in ICE facilities must sometimes manage detainees who are dangerous, or who fight or otherwise misbehave, or who are at risk of harm to themselves or others if left in general population or not kept under close observation. Some detainees, such as the elderly or disabled, may require special medical care that facilities, such as county jails, are not equipped to handle.

But NBC News found that immigrant detainees are also put in solitary for minor offenses, such as consensual kissing, or for offenses that stem from mental illness, such as acts of self-harm.

Joselin Mendez, a transgender woman from Nicaragua, was twice sent to solitary for minor disciplinary infractions, including an instance when she argued with an officer. Mendez said he refused to speak Spanish to her, and she cannot speak English.

“I felt afraid and anxious, and I would tremble and sweat and I would ask, ‘Why is this happening?'” Mendez said of her time in solitary.

Hunger strikers, LGBT detainees, and people with disabilities have been put in isolation — referred to as “protective custody” in these cases — sometimes because they requested it, but sometimes not.

Kelly, a 22-year-old transgender woman from Central America whose last name NBC News is withholding at her request, spent four months in protective custody at the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center in northern Louisiana, beginning in late 2017.

“The only thing told me was that it was because of the way I looked,” she said in a phone interview from the privately-run Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. “They claimed it was for security reasons….I told them from day one that I didn’t want to be locked up almost 24 hours a day, alone in a cell, without medical attention.”

Up Next

See Gallery




“Every time I closed my eyes, when I was trying to sleep, I began to have nightmares, horrible memories, things that I didn’t want to remember,” added Kelly. “It’s still happening to me.”

Detainees with mental illness put in isolation include more than 50 instances of self-harm. In at least 373 instances, those in solitary were on suicide watch, a highly-restrictive form of solitary.

A suicidal Iraqi man was placed in solitary at a Michigan detention center after he cut himself with a razor. He was ordered to spend 30 days in isolation – not for his own safety – but as punishment for a “weapons offense and self mutilation.”

More than 60 disabled detainees were placed in isolation solely because they required a wheelchair or some other aid.

A Pakistani man who needed a hard cast to heal his injured hand was put in isolation for eight days. His jailers said the cast posed a “security risk.”

ICE took alternating views of that risk when justifying the decision to put him in solitary. At one point, it noted that the cast “poses potential danger” and “has potential to be used as a blunt object during altercation.” But it also noted that his damaged hand and sling “could also hinder his ability to defend himself in general population.”

Ilyas Muradi, a 30-year-old longtime U.S. resident from Afghanistan, has spent most of the last four months in solitary at ICE’s South Texas Detention Complex. He said he was accused of entering a shower without authorization, and threatening a guard.

Muradi denied that he threatened a guard, but acknowledged having gotten into multiple fights with other detainees last year. He said he believes guards are now punishing him simply because they don’t like him — and is frustrated because he doesn’t know what he can do to be released from solitary. His attorney in early May sent a letter to ICE pleading for his client’s release from isolation.

In one way, Muradi is among the lucky ones. In fewer than 11 percent of the solitary reports did the detainee have a lawyer. Even for those, in more than 270 instances, ICE did not notify the attorneys that their clients were placed in solitary. This includes six times when detainees were in isolation for more than half a year.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” an anguished Muradi told reporters in a phone call from the detention facility.

At the end of another call, he broke into sobs, asking “Can you please help me?”

‘People were being brutalized’

In February 2014, Gallagher, the DHS employee, came across ICE logs detailing the placement of detainees in solitary confinement. She said she couldn’t believe her eyes at first: the agency was using the punishing conditions of isolation on civil detainees routinely, and often with little apparent justification.

Her alarm grew as she reviewed cases of the mentally-ill placed in isolation for reasons that included attempting suicide, being the victim of a physical attack or exhibiting behavior related to their mental illness.

“I came to believe that many of the fact patterns featured in the segregation reports and in the other documents that I reviewed fell within the description of what had been deemed torture,” said Gallagher, who was at the time a policy adviser for DHS’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties office.

In one of the cases, a detainee jumped from the top of his bunk bed onto a cement floor in an attempt to harm himself. He then attempted to strangle himself with a towel. He was sentenced to 15 days in solitary. In another, a detainee was sentenced to 45 days in solitary after officials discovered one anti-anxiety pill hidden in a book he was reading.

One of the most troubling cases was that of a man who had so deteriorated during a year in and out of solitary, that he had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Once he returned to the detention center, she said, he threw his own feces at a guard and was subsequently sentenced to more than 13 months in isolation.

Image: Men sit in the sun at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, California, on May 26, 2010.

Over several months, Gallagher tracked individual cases and gathered reams of documentation. She began to lose sleep, plagued by a series of questions: “How can this be happening? What can I do to bring this to someone’s attention?”

Now convinced that ICE was violating its own rules and endangering the lives of detainees, she embarked on a years-long effort to reform the agency’s practices.

In a succession of memos first circulated internally at DHS and then sent to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel — an independent agency where federal employees can file complaints of wrongdoing they think have been ignored — Gallagher alleged that abuses of solitary confinement at ICE had become “urgent and at times life-threatening.”

In one memo, Gallagher describes seeing records of ICE detainees moving “chronically back and forth from the general population to administrative or disciplinary segregation, with periodic, crisis-oriented admissions to psychiatric hospitals punctuating their return to the same disturbing cycle.”

ICE’s internal guidelines explicitly require detention officials to document what alternatives to isolation were considered in certain cases. Gallagher often found no evidence that ICE had done so.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that its Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties had examined ICE’s use of isolation through complaint investigations, working groups and other advice and feedback. The office has worked with ICE “to improve policy and reduce unnecessary use of segregated housing for ICE detainees,” the spokesperson said. The office said that, in 2016, it collaborated with ICE to implement Obama-era recommendations issued by the Justice Department on improving solitary confinement.

DHS’s inspector general in recent audits has raised concerns about “improper and overly restrictive” isolation, “multiple violations” of ICE policy leading to needless solitary confinements, and record keeping so sloppy that mentally ill detainees may be subjected to extended stays in isolation that would pose a threat to their health.

Gallagher’s memos prompted two top lawmakers from different sides of the aisle — Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. — to write a previously-unreported letter in 2015 outlining concerns over ICE’s use of solitary confinement.

“Recent information obtained by the (Senate Judiciary Committee) suggests that ICE continues to place many detainees with mental health concerns in administrative or disciplinary segregation — also known as solitary confinement — contrary to agency directives that limit the use of segregation for the mentally ill,” read the letter to Jeh Johnson, who was President Obama’s homeland security secretary.

Image: Ellen Gallagher

Believing she has exhausted her options for sounding the alarm within the government, Gallagher agreed to share her story with NBC News. Without public action, “this same set of circumstances will not stop,” Gallagher said. “And I think it will actually get worse.”

“I tend to think that staying silent does not honor the pain of the people who have been treated in this inhumane way,” she added. “If I were to stay silent given what I know, that I would in effect be giving up on the people that are stuck in those cells.”

‘He wanted to die’

At least 13 detainees who later died in ICE detention have spent time in solitary, according to records dating back to 2011.

An NBC News analysis of ICE death reports shows that the agency acknowledged missteps for at least eight of them. Seven of those detainees died in their isolation cells, including six who committed suicide. The seventh wasn’t given his anti-seizure medication.

Clemente Ntangola Mponda, a 27-year-old man from Mozambique, was put in solitary at the Houston Contract Detention Facility in Texas for more than half of 2012. “Mponda told mental health staff he was tired of being in segregation and that he wanted to die,” according to an ICE detainee death report.

Mponda continued to be held in isolation, though the justification would remain murky, ICE later determined. For three months, prison officials violated rules by not providing justifications or details for why he continued to be held in solitary. In August 2013, he was back in isolation for more than two weeks because of a fight. Prison staff didn’t notice he grabbed extra medication pills. Although he had previously talked about killing himself, officials did not check on him. With no one watching, Mponda killed himself by swallowing the pills.

Moises Tino-Lopez, 23, from Guatemala, died in 2016 in an isolation cell in the Hall County Department of Corrections, in central Nebraska. ICE would later determine that “no justification was documented for charging Tino with disciplinary violations and placing him in” solitary. Once in isolation, the facility did not ensure he got needed anti-seizure medication. He then died from a seizure.

‘It has been such a long time behind those walls’

Even before she landed in solitary at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico last June, Dulce Rivera’s life was marked by tumult.

She said her mother abandoned her when she was 10 years old, leaving her homeless. Rivera spent her early teens on the streets of violence-ravaged cities in Honduras and elsewhere, battling drug addiction and mental illness. She arrived in the U.S. at age 16 and was granted permanent residency in 2000.

The transgender woman was placed in ICE custody in 2017 after a criminal conviction in California for second-degree robbery violated her residency in the U.S.

Her suicide bid came in June. After she was transported back from the hospital, Rivera was outfitted with a heavy green smock that couldn’t be fashioned into a noose. She was still locked alone for nearly all day in conditions that further ate away at her fragile mental state. “They take off all your clothes, and they put you in a cell that is more terrible,” Rivera said.

CoreCivic, which runs the Cibola facility, said that it is contractually required to follow ICE’s detention standards. “We’re committed, as we have been for three decades, to creating a safe environment for the individuals ICE entrusts to our care,” CoreCivic spokesperson Amanda Gilchrist said, “and to following all federal guidelines on the appropriate accommodation of transgender detainees.”

Rivera was abruptly released from ICE custody last April after her lawyer filed a legal action challenging her detention. No country would accept Rivera, who had no birth certificate or identifying information from any nation, and ICE couldn’t hold her indefinitely.

By then, Rivera had been moved to the El Paso Processing Center in Texas. In all, she spent roughly 11 months in solitary confinement at the two facilities, records show.

 

“They just tell me, ‘Miss Rivera, we gotta let you go,'” she said of that day of her release. “And I just start crying. It has been such a long time behind those walls.”

Rivera is now living at her sponsor’s home, a modest one-story house a few minutes drive from New Mexico’s Organ Mountains. Her bedroom is a far cry from the isolation cells she lived in for nearly a year. The desert sunlight filters through her window and spills over the soft comforter on her bed.

Most of the time, Rivera can barely contain her sunny, upbeat personality. As she settles into her new life, she’s been spending time with a network of supporters, including a close circle of transgender friends.

But a small part of her, she said, remains broken. Nightmares still plague her.

In one, she sees an officer looming over her in the dark.

“You think you’re still living there,” Rivera said.

This story was developed by NBC News as part of a collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. The partnership includes five other news organizations: Univision and The Intercept in the United States; Grupo SIN of Dominican Republic, Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción in Mexico and Plaza Publica in Guatemala.

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/05/21/thousands-of-immigrants-suffer-in-solitary-confinement-in-us-detention-centers/23732316/

Thousands of immigrants suffer in solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers

Dulce Rivera lived for the one hour a day she was allowed to walk outside on a patch of concrete surrounded by metal fencing.

The 36-year-old transgender woman from Central America was locked in solitary confinement at a New Mexico detention center that housed immigrants in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For 23 hours a day, she remained alone in a cell, with no one to talk to and nothing to distract from her increasingly dark thoughts.

“You never know what day it is, what time it is,” said Rivera, who has struggled with mental illness. “Sometimes you never see the sun.”

Rivera was placed in isolation because of allegations, later determined to be unfounded, that she had kissed and touched other detainees, records show.

Nearly four weeks into her stint in solitary, she lost her will to live. She fashioned a noose from a torn blanket and hanged herself from the cell’s ceiling vent — only to be saved by a passing guard.

Rivera was rushed to a hospital. Upon her return to the detention center, she was labeled a suicide threat and placed back in solitary, under even more restrictions.

Image: Dulce Rivera, a transgender woman from Central America, was detained by ICE in 2017 and placed in the transgender unit at Cibola.

Rivera’s case is not unique.

Thousands of others were outlined in a trove of government documents that shed new light on the widespread use of solitary confinement for immigrant detainees in ICE custody under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

The documents paint a disturbing portrait of a system where detainees are sometimes forced into extended periods of isolation for reasons that have nothing to do with violating any rules.

Disabled immigrants in need of a wheelchair or cane. Those who identify as gay. Those who report abuse from guards or other detainees.

Only half of the cases involved punishment for rule violations. The other half were unrelated to disciplinary concerns — they involve the mentally ill, the disabled or others who were sent to solitary largely for what ICE described as safety reasons.

A Guatemalan man spent two months in solitary confinement at a county jail in Maryland. The reason: he had a prosthetic leg.

A mentally ill Ukrainian man was put in isolation for 15 days at a detention facility in Arizona. His offense: putting half a green pepper in one of his socks.

Up Next

See Gallery




In nearly a third of the cases, segregated detainees were determined by ICE to have a mental illness, a population especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of isolation.

“We have created and continue to support a system that involves widespread abuse of human beings,” said Ellen Gallagher, a policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Gallagher, who is speaking publicly for the first time, has spent the past five years trying to sound the alarm within the federal government about the rampant use of solitary confinement on vulnerable people in ICE custody.

“People were being brutalized,” she said

The data, along with a review of thousands of pages of documents, including detention records and court filings, and interviews with dozens of current and former detainees from across the globe – India to Egypt to Nicaragua – offers an expansive look at how the practice of solitary confinement has been used in the nation’s civil immigration detention system.

The bulk of the records, which document solitary cases between March 2012 and March 2017, were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared through a partnership with NBC News and five other news organizations.

Image: A guard escorts an immigrant detainee from his segregation cell back to general population at the Adelanto Detention Facility in California on Nov. 15, 2013.

The agency’s own directives say that placing detainees in solitary – or “segregated housing,” as the agency calls it – is “a serious step that requires careful consideration of alternatives.” Vulnerable detainees, such as the mentally ill, should only be placed in segregation as a last resort, according to ICE policy.

But the documents raise questions about whether ICE is following its own guidelines. Gallagher, for her part, is convinced that it is not.

“Solitary confinement was being used as the first resort, not the last resort,” she said.

The newly-obtained data documents 8,488 cases of immigrant detainees placed in isolation over the five-year period. But those figures represent only a portion of all the instances of solitary confinement in ICE’s vast network of detention centers.

According to ICE, the agency only tracks cases in which detainees have a “special vulnerability,” such as the mentally ill, or were put in solitary for more than 14 days.

One out of every 200 detainees spend time in isolation for at least two weeks, according to ICE data. In a statement to NBC News, an agency spokesperson defended its use of the practice.

ICE “is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody,” the spokesperson said. “The use of restrictive housing in ICE detention facilities is exceedingly rare, but at times necessary, to ensure the safety of staff and individuals in a facility. ICE’s policy governing the use of special management units protects detainees, staff, contractors, and volunteers from harm by segregating certain detainees from the general population for both administrative and disciplinary reasons.”

The spokesperson added that ICE uses such practices to ensure that detainees “reside in safe, secure and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement.”

“Can you please help me?”

As the name suggests, solitary confinement separates individuals from the general population, housing them alone in a cell where their movements and privileges are highly restricted.

In isolation, they are typically locked down for at least 22 hours a day, with limited access to recreation or contact with other human beings. Depending on the restrictions, individuals in solitary can be limited or outright denied access to phone calls, visitation, books, or personal items, such as photographs of loved ones.

The experience, according to those who have lived it, can be harrowing. Some current and former detainees told NBC News that their time in isolation drove them to attempt suicide or commit other acts of self-harm. The detainees described a wide array of suffering, including night terrors, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, insomnia — psychological trauma that lasted long after their release from custody.

“After that first or second week, I lost my mind,” Ayo Oyakhire, a 52-year-old Nigerian, said of his nearly seven weeks in isolation at the ICE unit in Atlanta’s jail. “Sometimes I feel like someone is choking me. I have flashbacks, like I’m still confined in that little room.”

“I am not normal,” said Karandeep Singh, a 29-year-old Sikh from northern India who was moved to solitary confinement in the El Paso Processing Center in Texas, after he refused meals to protest his impending deportation.

Singh said that after more than two weeks in isolation, he bashed his head into his cell wall in an attempt to kill himself. “It was mental torture,” Singh said.

Several states have enacted restrictions on the practice, or banned it outright for certain populations, including juveniles and the mentally ill. Texas recently banned “punitive” solitary as punishment for breaking the rules. In Colorado, state inmates cannot be held in solitary confinement for longer than 15 days. President Barack Obama banned the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.

Experts say even short stays in isolation can cause severe, and long-lasting, psychological and physical damage. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has said that solitary confinement can amount to “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” and that isolation for more than 15 days should be banned, except in exceptional circumstances.

The number of immigrants in custody has reached historic levels, with a daily average of 50,000 immigrants in more than 200 detention centers across the country, including county jails and facilities operated by private prison providers. Those in ICE custody are not facing criminal charges, and their detention is not intended to be punitive. They are in custody for civil immigration violations such as overstaying their visas or being in the country illegally. Some are awaiting deportation or court dates. Some are asylum seekers.

Similar to a criminal setting, officers in ICE facilities must sometimes manage detainees who are dangerous, or who fight or otherwise misbehave, or who are at risk of harm to themselves or others if left in general population or not kept under close observation. Some detainees, such as the elderly or disabled, may require special medical care that facilities, such as county jails, are not equipped to handle.

But NBC News found that immigrant detainees are also put in solitary for minor offenses, such as consensual kissing, or for offenses that stem from mental illness, such as acts of self-harm.

Joselin Mendez, a transgender woman from Nicaragua, was twice sent to solitary for minor disciplinary infractions, including an instance when she argued with an officer. Mendez said he refused to speak Spanish to her, and she cannot speak English.

“I felt afraid and anxious, and I would tremble and sweat and I would ask, ‘Why is this happening?'” Mendez said of her time in solitary.

Hunger strikers, LGBT detainees, and people with disabilities have been put in isolation — referred to as “protective custody” in these cases — sometimes because they requested it, but sometimes not.

Kelly, a 22-year-old transgender woman from Central America whose last name NBC News is withholding at her request, spent four months in protective custody at the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center in northern Louisiana, beginning in late 2017.

“The only thing told me was that it was because of the way I looked,” she said in a phone interview from the privately-run Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. “They claimed it was for security reasons….I told them from day one that I didn’t want to be locked up almost 24 hours a day, alone in a cell, without medical attention.”

Up Next

See Gallery




“Every time I closed my eyes, when I was trying to sleep, I began to have nightmares, horrible memories, things that I didn’t want to remember,” added Kelly. “It’s still happening to me.”

Detainees with mental illness put in isolation include more than 50 instances of self-harm. In at least 373 instances, those in solitary were on suicide watch, a highly-restrictive form of solitary.

A suicidal Iraqi man was placed in solitary at a Michigan detention center after he cut himself with a razor. He was ordered to spend 30 days in isolation – not for his own safety – but as punishment for a “weapons offense and self mutilation.”

More than 60 disabled detainees were placed in isolation solely because they required a wheelchair or some other aid.

A Pakistani man who needed a hard cast to heal his injured hand was put in isolation for eight days. His jailers said the cast posed a “security risk.”

ICE took alternating views of that risk when justifying the decision to put him in solitary. At one point, it noted that the cast “poses potential danger” and “has potential to be used as a blunt object during altercation.” But it also noted that his damaged hand and sling “could also hinder his ability to defend himself in general population.”

Ilyas Muradi, a 30-year-old longtime U.S. resident from Afghanistan, has spent most of the last four months in solitary at ICE’s South Texas Detention Complex. He said he was accused of entering a shower without authorization, and threatening a guard.

Muradi denied that he threatened a guard, but acknowledged having gotten into multiple fights with other detainees last year. He said he believes guards are now punishing him simply because they don’t like him — and is frustrated because he doesn’t know what he can do to be released from solitary. His attorney in early May sent a letter to ICE pleading for his client’s release from isolation.

In one way, Muradi is among the lucky ones. In fewer than 11 percent of the solitary reports did the detainee have a lawyer. Even for those, in more than 270 instances, ICE did not notify the attorneys that their clients were placed in solitary. This includes six times when detainees were in isolation for more than half a year.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” an anguished Muradi told reporters in a phone call from the detention facility.

At the end of another call, he broke into sobs, asking “Can you please help me?”

‘People were being brutalized’

In February 2014, Gallagher, the DHS employee, came across ICE logs detailing the placement of detainees in solitary confinement. She said she couldn’t believe her eyes at first: the agency was using the punishing conditions of isolation on civil detainees routinely, and often with little apparent justification.

Her alarm grew as she reviewed cases of the mentally-ill placed in isolation for reasons that included attempting suicide, being the victim of a physical attack or exhibiting behavior related to their mental illness.

“I came to believe that many of the fact patterns featured in the segregation reports and in the other documents that I reviewed fell within the description of what had been deemed torture,” said Gallagher, who was at the time a policy adviser for DHS’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties office.

In one of the cases, a detainee jumped from the top of his bunk bed onto a cement floor in an attempt to harm himself. He then attempted to strangle himself with a towel. He was sentenced to 15 days in solitary. In another, a detainee was sentenced to 45 days in solitary after officials discovered one anti-anxiety pill hidden in a book he was reading.

One of the most troubling cases was that of a man who had so deteriorated during a year in and out of solitary, that he had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Once he returned to the detention center, she said, he threw his own feces at a guard and was subsequently sentenced to more than 13 months in isolation.

Image: Men sit in the sun at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, California, on May 26, 2010.

Over several months, Gallagher tracked individual cases and gathered reams of documentation. She began to lose sleep, plagued by a series of questions: “How can this be happening? What can I do to bring this to someone’s attention?”

Now convinced that ICE was violating its own rules and endangering the lives of detainees, she embarked on a years-long effort to reform the agency’s practices.

In a succession of memos first circulated internally at DHS and then sent to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel — an independent agency where federal employees can file complaints of wrongdoing they think have been ignored — Gallagher alleged that abuses of solitary confinement at ICE had become “urgent and at times life-threatening.”

In one memo, Gallagher describes seeing records of ICE detainees moving “chronically back and forth from the general population to administrative or disciplinary segregation, with periodic, crisis-oriented admissions to psychiatric hospitals punctuating their return to the same disturbing cycle.”

ICE’s internal guidelines explicitly require detention officials to document what alternatives to isolation were considered in certain cases. Gallagher often found no evidence that ICE had done so.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that its Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties had examined ICE’s use of isolation through complaint investigations, working groups and other advice and feedback. The office has worked with ICE “to improve policy and reduce unnecessary use of segregated housing for ICE detainees,” the spokesperson said. The office said that, in 2016, it collaborated with ICE to implement Obama-era recommendations issued by the Justice Department on improving solitary confinement.

DHS’s inspector general in recent audits has raised concerns about “improper and overly restrictive” isolation, “multiple violations” of ICE policy leading to needless solitary confinements, and record keeping so sloppy that mentally ill detainees may be subjected to extended stays in isolation that would pose a threat to their health.

Gallagher’s memos prompted two top lawmakers from different sides of the aisle — Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. — to write a previously-unreported letter in 2015 outlining concerns over ICE’s use of solitary confinement.

“Recent information obtained by the (Senate Judiciary Committee) suggests that ICE continues to place many detainees with mental health concerns in administrative or disciplinary segregation — also known as solitary confinement — contrary to agency directives that limit the use of segregation for the mentally ill,” read the letter to Jeh Johnson, who was President Obama’s homeland security secretary.

Image: Ellen Gallagher

Believing she has exhausted her options for sounding the alarm within the government, Gallagher agreed to share her story with NBC News. Without public action, “this same set of circumstances will not stop,” Gallagher said. “And I think it will actually get worse.”

“I tend to think that staying silent does not honor the pain of the people who have been treated in this inhumane way,” she added. “If I were to stay silent given what I know, that I would in effect be giving up on the people that are stuck in those cells.”

‘He wanted to die’

At least 13 detainees who later died in ICE detention have spent time in solitary, according to records dating back to 2011.

An NBC News analysis of ICE death reports shows that the agency acknowledged missteps for at least eight of them. Seven of those detainees died in their isolation cells, including six who committed suicide. The seventh wasn’t given his anti-seizure medication.

Clemente Ntangola Mponda, a 27-year-old man from Mozambique, was put in solitary at the Houston Contract Detention Facility in Texas for more than half of 2012. “Mponda told mental health staff he was tired of being in segregation and that he wanted to die,” according to an ICE detainee death report.

Mponda continued to be held in isolation, though the justification would remain murky, ICE later determined. For three months, prison officials violated rules by not providing justifications or details for why he continued to be held in solitary. In August 2013, he was back in isolation for more than two weeks because of a fight. Prison staff didn’t notice he grabbed extra medication pills. Although he had previously talked about killing himself, officials did not check on him. With no one watching, Mponda killed himself by swallowing the pills.

Moises Tino-Lopez, 23, from Guatemala, died in 2016 in an isolation cell in the Hall County Department of Corrections, in central Nebraska. ICE would later determine that “no justification was documented for charging Tino with disciplinary violations and placing him in” solitary. Once in isolation, the facility did not ensure he got needed anti-seizure medication. He then died from a seizure.

‘It has been such a long time behind those walls’

Even before she landed in solitary at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico last June, Dulce Rivera’s life was marked by tumult.

She said her mother abandoned her when she was 10 years old, leaving her homeless. Rivera spent her early teens on the streets of violence-ravaged cities in Honduras and elsewhere, battling drug addiction and mental illness. She arrived in the U.S. at age 16 and was granted permanent residency in 2000.

The transgender woman was placed in ICE custody in 2017 after a criminal conviction in California for second-degree robbery violated her residency in the U.S.

Her suicide bid came in June. After she was transported back from the hospital, Rivera was outfitted with a heavy green smock that couldn’t be fashioned into a noose. She was still locked alone for nearly all day in conditions that further ate away at her fragile mental state. “They take off all your clothes, and they put you in a cell that is more terrible,” Rivera said.

CoreCivic, which runs the Cibola facility, said that it is contractually required to follow ICE’s detention standards. “We’re committed, as we have been for three decades, to creating a safe environment for the individuals ICE entrusts to our care,” CoreCivic spokesperson Amanda Gilchrist said, “and to following all federal guidelines on the appropriate accommodation of transgender detainees.”

Rivera was abruptly released from ICE custody last April after her lawyer filed a legal action challenging her detention. No country would accept Rivera, who had no birth certificate or identifying information from any nation, and ICE couldn’t hold her indefinitely.

By then, Rivera had been moved to the El Paso Processing Center in Texas. In all, she spent roughly 11 months in solitary confinement at the two facilities, records show.

 

“They just tell me, ‘Miss Rivera, we gotta let you go,'” she said of that day of her release. “And I just start crying. It has been such a long time behind those walls.”

Rivera is now living at her sponsor’s home, a modest one-story house a few minutes drive from New Mexico’s Organ Mountains. Her bedroom is a far cry from the isolation cells she lived in for nearly a year. The desert sunlight filters through her window and spills over the soft comforter on her bed.

Most of the time, Rivera can barely contain her sunny, upbeat personality. As she settles into her new life, she’s been spending time with a network of supporters, including a close circle of transgender friends.

But a small part of her, she said, remains broken. Nightmares still plague her.

In one, she sees an officer looming over her in the dark.

“You think you’re still living there,” Rivera said.

This story was developed by NBC News as part of a collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. The partnership includes five other news organizations: Univision and The Intercept in the United States; Grupo SIN of Dominican Republic, Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción in Mexico and Plaza Publica in Guatemala.

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/05/21/thousands-of-immigrants-suffer-in-solitary-confinement-in-us-detention-centers/23732316/

NYPD officer says he inflated charge against Eric Garner

NEW YORK (AP) — After Eric Garner’s death following a confrontation with New York City police five years ago, one officer involved in the struggle wrote up paperwork that exaggerated the seriousness of the dead man’s suspected crime, that officer testified Tuesday.

Officer Justin Damico said that after riding in an ambulance with the dying Garner, he filled out arrest papers listing a felony tax charge that would have required prosecutors to prove Garner, a small-time street hustler, had sold 10,000 untaxed cigarettes.

Damico was questioned about the posthumous arrest papers while testifying at the disciplinary trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, a one-time partner accused of restraining Garner with a banned chokehold as they tried to arrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island in July 2014.

Up Next

See Gallery




“You initiated this on your own, writing up the arrest of a dead man?” asked Suzanne O’Hare, a lawyer for the police watchdog agency bringing the disciplinary case against Pantaleo.

Damico acknowledged that the felony charge was incorrect because Garner actually had with him five packs of Newports that contained a total of less than 100 cigarettes. The cigarettes were marked for sale in Virginia, a sign they were being resold illegally in New York.

Garner was ultimately posthumously charged with two misdemeanors, which alleged he resisted arrest and sold untaxed cigarettes. The case was not prosecuted because Garner is dead.

Damico’s testimony was often revealing, giving the never-before-heard perspective of the one officer who had been with Pantaleo throughout the confrontation. Pantaleo, 33, denies wrongdoing. He has been on desk duty since Garner’s death.

Speaking for more than an hour in a nearly full hearing room at police headquarters, Damico recounted how he’d given an agitated Garner a warning two weeks earlier, instead of arresting him, for selling loose cigarettes because he felt that approach was “the right thing to do.”

Once Pantaleo grabbed Garner and pulled him to the ground, Damico said he just assumed that Garner was faking unresponsiveness — “playing possum” — to get out of being arrested. An officer who arrived as Garner was being restrained testified that he had the same thought.

Garner’s dying pleas of “I can’t breathe,” captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, became a rallying cry against police brutality targeting black people.

Damico testified he saw Pantaleo’s arm around Garner’s neck as the two men struggled — but he didn’t say if he thought the move was a chokehold.

At one point in his testimony, Damico said he recalled Pantaleo’s arm being around Garner’s “upper body.” That description prompted Garner’s widow, Esaw, to mutter: “Oh, come on.”

Damico, then in charge of combatting graffiti and quality of life issues in a neighborhood near the Staten Island Ferry terminal, said he was paired with Pantaleo to watch for loose cigarette sales when he saw Garner completing such a transaction.

Damico, who hasn’t faced disciplinary action, testified that he and Pantaleo didn’t rush to arrest Garner because they were “trying to avoid a physical fight.” They stayed calm as Garner screamed for around 10 minutes about feeling targeted by police and swatted Damico’s hands away while refusing to be arrested, Damico said.

Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association officers’ union, said Damico and Pantaleo “utilized textbook de-escalation techniques to limit the use of force against a much larger and irate individual.”

“We are convinced that if the politics of the streets are removed from this process and the case is decided on a dispassionate hearing of the facts, that Police Officer Pantaleo will be exonerated,” he said.

The NYPD’s disciplinary process plays out like a trial in front of an administrative judge.

Normally the purpose is to determine whether an officer violated department rules, but that’s only if disciplinary charges are filed within 18 months of an incident.

Because Pantaleo’s case languished, the watchdog Civilian Complaint Review Board must show that his actions rose to the level of criminal conduct, even though he faces no criminal charges and is being tried in a department tribunal, not a criminal court.

The final decision on any punishment lies with the police commissioner. Penalties range from the loss of vacation days to firing.

The disciplinary hearing is scheduled to resume June 5.

Pantaleo’s lawyers say they will call a medical examiner from St. Louis, Missouri, to rebut the New York medical examiner’s finding that a chokehold set into motion “a lethal sequence of events” for Garner.

Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said she’s “tired of the disruptions.”

 

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/05/21/nypd-officer-says-he-inflated-charge-against-eric-garner/23732346/

NYPD officer says he inflated charge against Eric Garner

NEW YORK (AP) — After Eric Garner’s death following a confrontation with New York City police five years ago, one officer involved in the struggle wrote up paperwork that exaggerated the seriousness of the dead man’s suspected crime, that officer testified Tuesday.

Officer Justin Damico said that after riding in an ambulance with the dying Garner, he filled out arrest papers listing a felony tax charge that would have required prosecutors to prove Garner, a small-time street hustler, had sold 10,000 untaxed cigarettes.

Damico was questioned about the posthumous arrest papers while testifying at the disciplinary trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, a one-time partner accused of restraining Garner with a banned chokehold as they tried to arrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island in July 2014.

Up Next

See Gallery




“You initiated this on your own, writing up the arrest of a dead man?” asked Suzanne O’Hare, a lawyer for the police watchdog agency bringing the disciplinary case against Pantaleo.

Damico acknowledged that the felony charge was incorrect because Garner actually had with him five packs of Newports that contained a total of less than 100 cigarettes. The cigarettes were marked for sale in Virginia, a sign they were being resold illegally in New York.

Garner was ultimately posthumously charged with two misdemeanors, which alleged he resisted arrest and sold untaxed cigarettes. The case was not prosecuted because Garner is dead.

Damico’s testimony was often revealing, giving the never-before-heard perspective of the one officer who had been with Pantaleo throughout the confrontation. Pantaleo, 33, denies wrongdoing. He has been on desk duty since Garner’s death.

Speaking for more than an hour in a nearly full hearing room at police headquarters, Damico recounted how he’d given an agitated Garner a warning two weeks earlier, instead of arresting him, for selling loose cigarettes because he felt that approach was “the right thing to do.”

Once Pantaleo grabbed Garner and pulled him to the ground, Damico said he just assumed that Garner was faking unresponsiveness — “playing possum” — to get out of being arrested. An officer who arrived as Garner was being restrained testified that he had the same thought.

Garner’s dying pleas of “I can’t breathe,” captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, became a rallying cry against police brutality targeting black people.

Damico testified he saw Pantaleo’s arm around Garner’s neck as the two men struggled — but he didn’t say if he thought the move was a chokehold.

At one point in his testimony, Damico said he recalled Pantaleo’s arm being around Garner’s “upper body.” That description prompted Garner’s widow, Esaw, to mutter: “Oh, come on.”

Damico, then in charge of combatting graffiti and quality of life issues in a neighborhood near the Staten Island Ferry terminal, said he was paired with Pantaleo to watch for loose cigarette sales when he saw Garner completing such a transaction.

Damico, who hasn’t faced disciplinary action, testified that he and Pantaleo didn’t rush to arrest Garner because they were “trying to avoid a physical fight.” They stayed calm as Garner screamed for around 10 minutes about feeling targeted by police and swatted Damico’s hands away while refusing to be arrested, Damico said.

Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association officers’ union, said Damico and Pantaleo “utilized textbook de-escalation techniques to limit the use of force against a much larger and irate individual.”

“We are convinced that if the politics of the streets are removed from this process and the case is decided on a dispassionate hearing of the facts, that Police Officer Pantaleo will be exonerated,” he said.

The NYPD’s disciplinary process plays out like a trial in front of an administrative judge.

Normally the purpose is to determine whether an officer violated department rules, but that’s only if disciplinary charges are filed within 18 months of an incident.

Because Pantaleo’s case languished, the watchdog Civilian Complaint Review Board must show that his actions rose to the level of criminal conduct, even though he faces no criminal charges and is being tried in a department tribunal, not a criminal court.

The final decision on any punishment lies with the police commissioner. Penalties range from the loss of vacation days to firing.

The disciplinary hearing is scheduled to resume June 5.

Pantaleo’s lawyers say they will call a medical examiner from St. Louis, Missouri, to rebut the New York medical examiner’s finding that a chokehold set into motion “a lethal sequence of events” for Garner.

Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said she’s “tired of the disruptions.”

 

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/05/21/nypd-officer-says-he-inflated-charge-against-eric-garner/23732346/

Computer Services, Inc. (CSVI: OTCQX U.S. Premier) | Annual Report

{“timestamp”:1558486395562,”status”:412,”error”:”Precondition Failed”,”exception”:”org.springframework.web.method.annotation.MethodArgumentTypeMismatchException”,”message”:”For input string: “content””,”path”:”/company/financial-report/content”}

Article source: http://www.otcmarkets.com/financialReportViewer?symbol=CSVI&id=221229

Computer Services, Inc. (CSVI: OTCQX U.S. Premier) | Annual Report

{“timestamp”:1558486395562,”status”:412,”error”:”Precondition Failed”,”exception”:”org.springframework.web.method.annotation.MethodArgumentTypeMismatchException”,”message”:”For input string: “content””,”path”:”/company/financial-report/content”}

Article source: http://www.otcmarkets.com/financialReportViewer?symbol=CSVI&id=221229

NAR: Monthly existing home sales fall 0.4% in April

In April, existing home sales fell slightly from the previous month, but growing inventory signaled improvement in the market, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – retreated 0.4% from March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.19 million in April. This report reveals sales are 4.4% below April 2018’s rate.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said he is not overly concerned about the 0.4% dip in sales and expects moderate growth very soon. 

“First, we are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy, so buyers will look to take advantage of these conditions,” Yun said. “Also, job creation is improving, causing wage growth to align with home price growth, which helps affordability and will help spur more home sales.”

The median existing home price for all housing types increased to $267,300 rising 3.6% from last April’s rate of $257,900. This marks the 86th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing available for sale increased from March, rising from 1.67 million existing homes on the market to 1.83 million in April. This is a 1.7% increase from last year’s total of 1.8 million.

“We see that the inventory totals have steadily improved and will provide more choices for those looking to buy a home,” Yun continued. He notes that sellers have to realize that price growth has moderated. “When placing their home on the market, home sellers need to be very realistic and aware of the current conditions.”

Unsold inventory rests at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from last month’s total of 3.8 and up from April 2018’s total of 4 months.

Properties stayed on the market an average of 24 days in April, moving down from 36 days in March and down from 26 days in 2018. The report states that 53% of homes stayed on the market for less than a month.

Yun said student debt continues to hinder Millennial homebuyers.

“Given the record high job openings in the construction sector, some may want to take a gap year to work there and save, and thereby lessen the student debt burden,” he added.

The report shows that the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell from 4.27% the month prior to 4.14% in April and the average commitment rate for all of 2018 was 4.54%, according to Freddie Mac.

“I think the market had a bit of a slow start in the Fall, but Realtors all over the country have been telling me that April was a nice rebound. We’re hopeful and expect that this will continue heading into the summer,” NAR President John Smaby said. “Homes over the last month sold quickly, which is not only a win-win for buyers and sellers, but it’s also great for the real estate industry.”

First-time buyers comprised 32% of sales in April, a decrease from both March and last April’s rate of 33%. NAR revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers held steady at 33%.

Single-family homes declined from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.67 million in March to 4.62 million in April, which is 4% below 4.81 million a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $269,300 in April, increasing 3.7% from April 2018. 

Existing condominium and co-op sales recorded a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 570,000 units in April, rising 5.6% from March, but still down 8.1% from a year ago. The median existing condo price was $251,000 in April, increasing 3.4% from 2018. 

Existing home sales in the Northeast retreated 4.5% from last month’s rate to an annual rate of 640,000, which is 4.5% below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast increased 0.9% from April 2018 and came in at $277,700.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales held steady from the prior month at an annual rate of 1.17 million, which is 7.9% below April 2018’s level. The median price in the Midwest was $210,500, increasing 5.5% from this time last year.

Southern existing-home sales fell 0.4% to an annual rate of 2.27 million in April. This is down 1.7% from last year. The median price in the South rose to $236,800, increasing 4.4% from April 2018.

Lastly, existing home sales in the West grew 1.8% to an annual rate of 1.11 million in April, which is a 5.9% below April 2018. The median price in the West was $395,100 increasing 1.3% from this time last year.

“On a seasonally adjusted basis, existing-home sales slipped relative to last month and last year. However, the unadjusted data shows some strength, particularly in the South and Northeast, suggesting that seasonal patterns may be a bit different this year,” Mortgage Bankers Association SVP and Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni said. 

“We view it as a positive that inventories continue to increase, although the supply of homes on the market remains relatively tight, and the pace of home-price increases continues to decelerate,” Fratantoni continued. “The strong job market and lower rates should continue to support the potential for more home sales this year.”

Article source: https://www.housingwire.com/articles/49094-nar-monthly-existing-home-sales-fall-04-in-april

Gateway First Bank appoints head of community reinvestment, fair lending

Last month, Oklahoma-based Gateway First Bank emerged with a new name following Gateway Mortgage Group’s acquisition of Farmers Exchange Bank.

Now, change is already underway at the mortgage lender, as it just established a new role to oversee its fair lending programs and commitment to addressing the credit and financial needs to the communities it serves.

Gateway announced recently that it has appointed Bruce Schultz as its vice president and Community Reinvestment Act officer in charge of this task.

SchulzSchultz will also be collaborating with other departments within the bank to develop products and services to meet needs of the consumers, small businesses and farms within the communities it serves.

Schultz worked previously as senior vice president at a community bank in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Bruce is an excellent addition to the team at Gateway,” said Gateway’s Hobie Higgins. “During his more than two decades in financial services, he has gained the expertise and experience to position us for continued growth and to help us better serve our communities.”

“It is an exciting time to the join the team at Gateway,” Schultz added. “There is certainly a lot to look forward to as Gateway continues to strive for excellence and serve every aspect of its communities. Gateway’s mission and commitment to providing top notch service is a testament to their legacy of growth across the nation, which shows no sign of slowing down.”

 

 

Article source: https://www.housingwire.com/articles/49099-gateway-first-bank-appoints-head-of-community-reinvestment-fair-lending

HousingWire News Podcast: Blend bridges the digital lending gap

The HousingWire News Podcast is a weekly wrap of the top news stories by Editor-in-Chief Jacob Gaffney. Click below to listen.

Each week, Gaffney interviews financial services experts who can make sense of the latest headlines, sponsored by our partners at Blend.

In this episode of the HousingWire News Podcast, Gaffney sits down with Tim Mayopoulos the President of Blend.

Mayopoulos talks about his transition from GSE to Fintech (he formally served as the head of Fannie Mae), and why he joined Blend. On the news front, Mayopoulos discusses today’s rate environment, the current outlook for lenders and what lenders need to focus on during this period in time. 

Mayopoulos announced in July 2018 that he was leaving mortgage giant Fannie Mae by the end of the year. Prior to officially leaving Fannie Mae in October, Mayopoulos even forecasted his own move into the financial technology space. In a HousingWire Magazine interview with Editor-in-Chief Jacob Gaffney, Mayopoulos explained he believed his next step was to remain in financial services at an automation-forward fintech firm.

Article source: https://www.housingwire.com/articles/49095-housingwire-news-podcast-blend-bridges-the-digital-lending-gap

WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com
Bunk Beds