Truth-Telling Prize Recipient, 2024

Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) immigration facility in Georgia, filed a whistleblower complaint in September 2020 after being demoted for raising concerns about inadequate medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic and nonconsensual gynecological procedures performed on women in detention.

Her disclosures prompted rigorous investigations, calls for reform, a lawsuit, and the end of immigration detention at ICDC in May 2021. The investigations and reforms sparked by Ms. Wooten's disclosures have led to greater scrutiny of medical care in immigration detention facilities and policy changes to prevent future abuses. Her claims have been verified by a Senate subcommittee, ICE records, and independent medical experts.

If it were not for her disclosures, women in immigrant detention would still be at risk of undergoing unnecessary, nonconsensual surgeries at ICDC. However, Ms. Wooten, a single mother of five, faces ongoing retaliation. Her courageous truth-telling has been recognized with the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, the Feleta Wilson Award from the Public Health Nursing Section of the American Public Health Association, the Physicians for Human Rights Award, and the HMH Foundation First Amendment Award.

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