Vera Report about the overuse of jails: Incarceration’s Front Door

On Feb. 11th, the Vera Institute of Justice published their report Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America.

“Local jails, which exist in nearly every town and city in America, are built to hold people deemed too dangerous to release pending trial or at high risk of flight. This, however, is no longer primarily what jails do or whom they hold, as people too poor to post bail languish there and racial disparities disproportionately impact communities of color.

This report reviews existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point. It also highlights jurisdictions that have taken steps to mitigate negative consequences, all with the aim of informing local policymakers and their constituents who are interested in in reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and promoting stronger, healthier communities.”

Please visit this link to download the full report or the summary.

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USA: 750 immigration detainees on hunger strike

A story from the site of AP

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Immigrant-rights activists rallied outside the Northwest Detention Center on Saturday, while at least 750 detainees protested their treatment and called for an end to deportations with a hunger strike.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department said on Saturday morning that 750 detainees had refused to eat and said they were on a hunger strike.

Activist Maru Mora Villalpando said the hunger strike started Friday as a protest of deportations as well as center conditions. She said the hunger strikers, who she believes number more than 1,000, are seeking better food and treatment as well as better pay for center jobs.

“We are concerned for their welfare, and we support their brave stand against inhumane treatment. We are gravely concerned about retaliation, particularly against the hunger-strike leaders,” Villalpando said.

The center currently houses nearly 1,300 people being investigated for possible deportation.

Read the rest here.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s new Directive on Segregation: Why We Need Further Protections

New Report:
In the press:

U.S. Solitary Confinement Practices of Immigrant Detainees Deficient: International Human Rights Students, Experts at John Marshall in Chicago

From: PR Web, Feb. 5, 2014

New research from the International Human Rights Clinic at The John Marshall Law School details deficiencies in current U.S. detention practices, as well as recommends measures to ensure immigrant detainees are protected and treated humanely.
Read the rest here.

Visitation Guide published by CIVIC to enable awareness for visiting people in immigrant detention facilities

We received this from an active group called CIVIC (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement), which is the national immigration detention visitation network in the USA.

Visitation, visiting people inside immigrant detention centers, enhances their psychological wellbeing as well as their human need for companionship from outside, and it is also necessary to prevent human righs abuses from taking place or from being easily inflicted.

When people from the outside visit, those inside feel a little safer, knowing that those on the outside know their situation. And they get a break from being forced to be locked up for an uncertain amount of time. Visiting is very important, powerful, and very much needed. Here is what CIVIC wrote:

Everyday immigrants disappear and are detained by the U.S. government.

For example, Ana is a human trafficking victim who was detained for over a year, locked in solitary confinement, and forced by a guard to sleep on the cement floor of her cell until Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) ended this isolation and abuse.

Over 32,000 immigrants like Ana remain isolated in these remote detention facilities today because no
law protects a right to visitation, phone calls can cost up to $5.00 per minute, and 46% of detained migrants are transferred at least twice–often out of state and away from their families.

CIVIC is changing this reality by building and strengthening community visitation programs that are dedicated to ending the isolation and abuse of men and women in immigration detention. Visitation programs connect persons in civil immigration detention with community members. These volunteer visitors provide immigrants in detention with a link to the outside world, while also preventing human rights abuses by creating a community presence in otherwise invisible detention facilities.

CIVIC recently released A Guide to Touring U.S. Immigration Detention Facilities & Building Alliances, designed for communities across the country hoping to start a visitation program using ICE’s new Visitation Directive.

The benefit of this resource is that the general guidelines are tailored to the unique request of using the Visitation Directive as a tool to establish contact and set up a permanent visitation program. In addition, this manual provides an overview of some of the successes and roadblocks visitation programs have encountered in the first year of the Visitation Directive’s existence.

CIVIC is setting in motion a national movement to combat the isolating experience of immigration detention. To get involved or for more information, please visit their website at www.endisolation.org.

Also please visit this blog with a lot of information about immigration detention, made to make people aware of immigrant detention and visiting people inside these prisons: Detentiondialogues.blogspot.com

The Visitation Manual/Directive can be found here (PDF).

Here is a YouTube about CIVIC and visiting:

Detention Watch Network Expose and Close Reports on 10 of the Worst Immigrant Prisons in the US

From: Detention Watch Network
November 2012

Detention Watch Network has coordinated the release of ten reports which detail the acute and chronic human right violations occurring in immigration detention in the United States today. 

A group of advocates, community organizers, legal service providers, faith groups and individuals personally impacted by detention, who together have deep experience and understanding of the detention and deportation system in the U.S., have identified these ten prisons and jails as facilities that are among the worst where immigrants are detained by the U.S. government.

Detention Watch Network demands that President Obama take a first step towards ending inhumane detention and close these 10 immigrant prisons cross the country as a down payment on a complete overhaul of U.S. immigration policies and practices.

On November 28, 300 national and local organizations sent a letter to the White House, calling on President Obama to close ten of the worst detention centers in the country while making immediate changes to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of immigrants held in detention. 

Read the letter to Obama here.

For media inquires contact Silky Shah at sshah@detentionwatchnetwork.org

The Expose & Close Report on this website

Executive Summary of the Detention Watch Network Report 

Also read the article on ABC News with a Map of the prisons.

New Report Calls for End to Use of Solitary Confinement in Immigrant Detention

From: SolitaryWatch
September 28, 2012 By Beth Broyles


“Are you broken yet?” Each day Rashed spent in solitary confinement at the Tri-County Detention Center in Illinois, the warden asked him this question.

An observant Muslim, Rashed had tried to advocate on behalf of another Muslim who could not speak English well. That was the “offense” that earned him his second stint in solitary, where he remained for 30 days. The first time, Rashed had asked the guards at the Dodge County Detention Facility in Wisconsin to excuse him from meals so that he could fast for Ramadan. Instead, they placed him in solitary for the remainder of the month-long observance.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had placed Rashed in detention when he arrived in the United States from his native Yemen, seeking asylum. For three years he remained in detention, transferred among several ICE-contracted facilities, as he awaited resolution of his asylum claim.

Both times Rashed was sent to solitary, it was without any formal charges being filed, any hearing, or any opportunity for review from a higher authority. “It was crazy,” he said in a press teleconference on Tuesday. He had fled Yemen to escape persecution, only to arrive in the United States and face more persecution.
This is but one of the instances of abusive and discriminatory use of solitary confinement described in a new report produced in partnership by the Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Invisible in Isolation: The Use of Segregation and Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention asserts that the use of solitary confinement for ICE detainees is unnecessary, costly and harmful to detainees’ physical and psychological health. It calls for an end to the practice of solitary confinement for immigration detainees.

In preparing the report, investigators interviewed detainees in segregation and solitary confinement at 14 of the 250 detention facilities, state and federal prisons, and county jails where the Immigrant and Customs Enforcement branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security detains more than 400,000 individuals per year. Many ICE detainees are actually lawful permanent residents and asylum-seekers awaiting adjudication of their cases. Their numbers include survivors of human trafficking, LGBT individuals, the elderly, and people with mental health conditions. Many do not speak English.

Despite the fact that they have not been convicted of any crime, most detainees held in facilities that “were built, and operate, as jails and prisons to confine pretrial and sentenced felons,” according to a former Homeland Security official quoted in the report. “ICE relies primarily on correctional incarceration standards … and on correctional principles of care, custody, and control. These standards impose more restrictions and carry more costs than are necessary to effectively manage the majority of the detained [immigrant] population.” Lacking adequate guidance from ICE, the report found, the guards in these facilities tend to apply their own local correctional practices by default. In a country where 80,000 people are in solitary confinement in prisons and jails on any given day, these practices include a liberal use of solitary.

The report does not attempt to estimate how many detainees may be in isolation in total in all ICE facilities. (ICE does not maintain such figures, and after investigators submitted requests for information to all 250 facilities in the country, just seven of those facilities provided information about ICE detainees who were held in solitary confinement.) Based on their sample of facilities, however, researchers found that ICE’s failure to enforce consistent standards regarding solitary confinement has led to the arbitrary and excessive use of the practice. There is no oversight, nor is there any due process for detainees, leaving them without any recourse to seek review of facilities’ decisions to place them in solitary.

According to the report, ICE detainees are particularly prone to solitary confinement. Facilities often deem segregation of certain ICE detainees necessary for safety purposes, in particular those who are LGBT individuals or mentally ill. However, the investigators found that segregated detainees faced the same conditions as those in disciplinary solitary confinement. Many of the ICE LGBT detainees had left their homelands because they faced persecution and discrimination because of their identities, only to face more discrimination in detention. According to the report, when one individual asked a corrections officer at the Theo Lacy Facility in California why he reduced the recreation time for LGBT detainees from two hours to 45 minutes, the officer told him, “Because you need to learn not to be faggots.”

Discrimination against immigrant populations is another cause the investigators identified as a reason for the excessive use of solitary confinement. According to the Nobles County Jail (Minnesota) Facility’s inmate rules, “Failure to speak English when able, watching Spanish channel on the TV” are violations that are punishable by a sentence of solitary confinement. Other “disciplinary” infractions that led to time in isolation at various facilities included trying to translate for another detainee, complaining about the quality of the drinking water, having an extra blanket, and playing cards instead of attending church services.

Read the rest here:
http://solitarywatch.com/2012/09/28/new-report-calls-for-end-to-use-of-solitary-confinement-on-immigration-detainees/

Thousands wage peaceful protest at Tent City

From: General Assembly Coverage blog of the Unitarian Universalists:
June 24th 2012

Several thousand gathered outside the Tent City jail complex Saturday night to protest inhumane conditions maintained by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The peace vigil was organized by the UUA, and drew nearly 2,000 people, many of whom arrived in busses from the Phoenix Convention Center, site of the UUA Justice General Assembly. People lined the streets in yellow Standing on the Side of Love shirts, waving battery-operated candles. A small nearby counter-protest organized by Arpaio supporters drew less than 100 people.

The crowd sang and chanted, “Shut it down. Shut it down.” “We just got word they can hear us in Tent City,” emcee Dulce Juarez told the crowd.

Complaints of cruel and unusual punishment have been lodged against the outdoor complex since Tent City opened in 1993. In the desert heat, temperatures in the tents have reportedly reached into the 130°s. Tent City has been condemned by numerous human rights organizations, and given rise to lawsuits charging civil rights violation. The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Arpaio and Maricopa County for civil rights violations, including what it said is the long-standing racial profiling of Latinos.

“We have to take it down,” UUA President Peter Morales told the crowd. “I am so sad this can exist in my country today.” He was joined by religious leaders from other denominations, as well.

Read the rest here: http://blogs.uuworld.org/ga/2012/06/24/thousands-wage-peaceful-protest-at-tent-city/