Act now against expanding the New Jersey immigration detention in the Essex County Correctional Facility

“Oppose Expansion of Immigration Detention at a Jail Accused of Inhumane Conditions”

“We are so furious…”

“We are so furious that the Essex County Freeholders have voted to expand the miserable rotten prison there…” – a member of the Peace & Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society in Ridgewood talking about the vote to approve a new contract with ICE. (Take a listen)

As you know, on September 7th, the Essex County Freeholders voted to approve a contract with ICE to expand immigration detention in the Essex County Correctional Facility, and the neighboring privately run Delaney Hall, to 1250 people.

The outrage over that vote has translated into action. As of last night, over 1100 people had signed the petition demanding that the freeholders revoke the contract with ICE and improve conditions in the jail.

The vote may be over, but the campaign to revoke the contract and improve conditions in a jail that has been accused of human rights abuses and sits amid toxic waste sites and active polluters continues.

If you want to get more involved you can:

1. Forward this message and/or the petition link to your friends and family http://www.change.org/petitions/oppose-expansion-of-immigration-detention-at-a-jail-accused-of-inhumane-conditions

2. Contact IRATE & First Friends or AFSC Immigrant Rights Program to learn how you can support their efforts to end immigration detention and provide support to immigrants in detention.

3. Attend an upcoming Essex County Freeholder meeting in person and ask them to explain their vote http://www.essex-countynj.org/freeholders/site/index.php?section=meetings

4. Attend the protest rally and march on in Newark October 9th Redefining Cruel & Unusual Indefinite Immigration Detention for-Profit Amid Toxic Waste in Essex County beginning at 1:30 pm at Peter Francisco Park Newark, NJ (right outside Newark Penn Station)

Marching to and from: Essex County Correctional Facility & Delaney Hall 356 Doremus Ave, Newark, NJ http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=236419679741397

Human rights activists and immigrants rally against big new New Jersey lockup

By Albor Ruiz. Feb 20th 2011
“Education yes, detention no!”
That was the passionate chant echoed during a spirited rally Thursday in front of the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, where more than 100 people protested plans to build a massive immigration detention center in their county.

Human rights activists and immigrants – several dressed in prison-style orange jumpsuits to show solidarity with immigrant detainees – marched 3 miles from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in downtown Newark to the rally site.

They shouted “No human being is illegal,” in both English and Spanish, to express opposition to the addition of 2,700 new detention beds to what already is an inhumane and abusive detention system.
There are 400,000 immigrant detainees nationwide deprived of freedom, according to the New York University Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU Law School.

“They are jailed, often indefinitely, not for having committed any criminal act but for simple civil immigration violations,” said John Skrodinsky of the Wind of the Spirit Immigration Resource Center, in Morristown, N.J., a rally organizer. “More jails mean more detainees, and that’s not fair.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement uses five private and county facilities to detain undocumented immigrants in New Jersey. The horror stories are well-documented.

The proposed center, which could soon be approved by the county freeholders, would be privately managed by Community Education Centers.
Essex County officials see the new center as a source of income for hard-pressed Newark. Last year, the county housed an average of 465 immigrant detainees a day and garnered nearly $22 million in revenue – making money on a human tragedy.

The Obama administration views it as proof of its commitment to overhaul the shameful way the government detains immigrants.
The administration says the new center would provide plenty of sunshine, better medical care, amenities and federal oversight.
A gilded cage, but a cage still.

5 Former AGs Challenge Jails’ Blanket Strip Searches

From: ACLU-NJ
For Immediate Release
January 19, 2010

NEWARK, NJ – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) today filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of five former New Jersey Attorneys General opposing the blanket strip search policies of the Burlington County Jail and Essex County Correctional Facility. The jails’ policies currently require strip searches for people charged with but not convicted of minor offenses, and even when there is no reasonable suspicion that an arrestee possesses contraband.

“Strip searching every detainee is unconstitutional, it contributes little to jail security and it creates an intolerable risk of subjecting detainees to needless humiliation,” said Ed Barocas, Legal Director for the ACLU-NJ. “There is no legitimate reason for these types of policies to exist.”

The amicus brief , filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on behalf of former New Jersey Attorneys General Robert J. Del Tufo, Deborah T. Poritz, John J. Farmer Jr., Peter C. Harvey and Zulima V. Farber, defends the privacy and Fourth Amendment rights of Albert Florence.

Florence filed a lawsuit in 2005 charging officials at the two jails with unconstitutionally subjecting him to two strip searches despite a lack of reasonable suspicion. The searches followed his erroneous arrest during a 2005 traffic stop for a fine he had already paid. He was ordered during the searches to squat naked and, while standing in front of prison guards, to lift his genitals.

“Being forced to strip naked is humiliating, and people charged with minor crimes shouldn’t be strip searched unless there’s a reason to think they’re hiding something,” said David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project.

Consistent with legal precedent, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez ruled in February 2009 that the strip search of Florence violated the Constitution. However, officials representing both Burlington and Essex Counties appealed the decision, placing the case before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The former Attorneys General’s brief notes that Judge Rodriguez’s decision prevents strip searches only for non-indictable offenses that do not involve contraband and when there is no reason to suspect contraband. Additionally, his decision does not preclude strip searches following visitation.

Previous federal rulings have also banned strip searches of low-level arrestees unless jail officials can prove reasonable suspicion that the inmate may have drugs, guns or other illegal contraband. The standard of reasonable suspicion still allows prison officials to use broad discretion in determining if a strip search is necessary.

A copy of the amicus brief is available online at: http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/florence-v-board-chosen-freeholders-county-burlington-et-al-amicus-brief

Additional information about ACLU-NJ is available online at: http://www.aclu-nj.org

Additional information about the ACLU National Prison Project is available online at: http://www.aclu.org/prison