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.

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/

Jimmy Carter: Show death penalty the door

Former President of the USA, Jimmy Carter, speaks out against the death penalty.
Let’s also hope that Life Without Parole will be abolished once.

This was posted here on AJC Opinion on Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Show death penalty the door

By Jimmy Carter

For many reasons, it is time for Georgia and other states to abolish the death penalty. A recent poll showed that 61 percent of Americans would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder.

Also, just 1 percent of police chiefs think that expanding the death penalty would reduce violent crime. This change in public opinion is steadily restricting capital punishment, both in state legislatures and in the federal courts.

As Georgia’s chief executive, I competed with other governors to reduce our prison populations. We classified all new inmates to prepare them for a productive time in prison, followed by carefully monitored early-release and work-release programs. We recruited volunteers from service clubs who acted as probation officers and “adopted” one prospective parolee for whom they found a job when parole was granted. At that time, in the 1970s, only one in 1,000 Americans was in prison.

Our nation’s focus is now on punishment, not rehabilitation. Although violent crimes have not increased, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 7.43 per 1,000 adults imprisoned at the end of 2010. Our country is almost alone in our fascination with the death penalty. Ninety percent of all executions are carried out in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

One argument for the death penalty is that it is a strong deterrent to murder and other violent crimes. In fact, evidence shows just the opposite. The homicide rate is at least five times greater in the United States than in any Western European country, all without the death penalty.

Southern states carry out more than 80 percent of the executions but have a higher murder rate than any other region. Texas has by far the most executions, but its homicide rate is twice that of Wisconsin, the first state to abolish the death penalty. Look at similar adjacent states: There are more capital crimes in South Dakota, Connecticut and Virginia (with death sentences) than neighboring North Dakota, Massachusetts and West Virginia (without death penalties). Furthermore, there has never been any evidence that the death penalty reduces capital crimes or that crimes increased when executions stopped. Tragic mistakes are prevalent. DNA testing and other factors have caused 138 death sentences to be reversed since I left the governor’s office.

The cost for prosecuting executed criminals is astronomical. Since 1973, California has spent roughly $4 billion in capital cases leading to only 13 executions, amounting to about $307 million each.

Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and misinterpreting Holy Scriptures and numerous examples of mercy. We remember God’s forgiveness of Cain, who killed Abel, and the adulterer King David, who had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Jesus forgave an adulterous woman sentenced to be stoned to death and explained away the “eye for an eye” scripture.

There is a stark difference between Protestant and Catholic believers. Many Protestant leaders are in the forefront of demanding ultimate punishment. Official Catholic policy condemns the death penalty. Perhaps the strongest argument against the death penalty is extreme bias against the poor, minorities or those with diminished mental capacity. Although homicide victims are six times more likely to be black rather than white, 77 percent of death penalty cases involve white victims. Also, it is hard to imagine a rich white person going to the death chamber after being defended by expensive lawyers. This demonstrates a higher value placed on the lives of white Americans.

It is clear that there are overwhelming ethical, financial, and religious reasons to abolish the death penalty.

Jimmy Carter was the 39th president and is founder of The Carter Center in Atlanta.

Immigrants Are Not For Sale

Please Sign the petition of My Cuentame:

The short video is on the Correction Corporation of America & the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and their attempt to open the country’s largest private immigration detention facility in south Florida.

The video features south Floridians voicing their criticism both against CCA’s/ICE’s facility and against the phenomena of private immigration detention centers/prisons. The petition asks Rep. Debbie Wasserman to stand with her constituents and “say no to CCA.”

IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT FOR SALE

We call on Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-20) to WITHDRAW her current endorsements for CCA’s project.

The Obama Administration announced a change in the priorities for detentions and deportations, to focus on real national security concerns, not on separating parents from their children or deporting DREAMers who are only seeking a better future.

It is time for ICE to stop the immigrant money making machine and tell CCA to GO AWAY from Southwest Ranches.

SIGN PETITION and tell REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ To Say NO to CCA!

Illinois, USA: Marchers on 3-day, 31-mile walk to protest immigration prison

Via The Real Cost of Prisons Blog:

Marchers on 3-day, 31-mile walk to protest immigration prison
By Lauren FitzPatrick
Sun-Times Media
http://www.suntimes.com/news/11638904-418/marchers-on-3-day-31-mile-walk-to-protest-immigration-prison.html
April 1, 2012 2:32AM

Manning a megaphone, Angela Marrufo led the chanting.

“What do we want?” the 8-year-old shouted in English and Spanish to the dozens who followed down Western Avenue from 111th Street to about 123rd. “When do we want it?”

“Justice,” the protesters answered. And “now,” they said.

Marrufo, with her mom, were among the group of 40 people walking from the South Side to Chicago Heights Saturday in protest of a proposed new federal immigration detention center. Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) wants to build in south suburban Crete the prison that would hold some 700-800 immigrants being deported.

In eye-grabbing neon green T-shirts, the group covered about 20 miles of the 31-mile, three-day trek, on foot, aiming to arrive Sunday in Crete, where the mayor supports the prison as economic development for his town.

Some Crete residents have complained of a lack of transparency in the planning process, however. And last week, the Illinois Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation specifically to prevent a private company from building the detention centers.

“We are going to stop this jail,” asserted the Rev. Jose Landaverde of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Little Village, one of the march organizers. “Instead of building prisons, they should be building schools.”

On Friday, the protesters had walked 7½ miles from Little Village to 81st and California, sleeping at St. Thomas More parish. Saturday, they headed south on Western, following the same stretch through Beverly that the South Side Irish parade takes, and through the historic swath of downtown Blue Island. That’s where bartender Michael P. Kennedy stuck his head of out of a bar to shout, “Border patrol! Border patrol!”

Kennedy said his son is a border agent in San Diego and said he’s frustrated about illegal immigrants breaching national borders and believes in consequences for breaking laws.
http://www.suntimes.com/news/11638904-418/marchers-on-3-day-31-mile-walk-to-protest-immigration-prison.html