Today’s deeply alarming report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (DHS OIG) documents the widespread inhumane conditions inside U.S. immigration detention. In the report, the OIG states that “inspections of the four detention facilities revealed violations of ICE’s detention standards and raised concerns about the environment in which detainees are held.” The four ICE jails and prisons that the OIG inspected include the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in California, the Aurora ICE Processing Center in Colorado, the LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Louisiana and the Essex County Correctional Facility in New Jersey.
The findings confirm what we have known and documented all along: that the rights of people in ICE detention are routinely violated and that deplorable conditions inside these prisons endanger their lives.
Among the key findings are the blatant misuse of solitary confinement (or segregation) and strip searches; spoiled and inedible food and hazardous food handling practices; poor conditions such as unclean bathrooms and mold on walls, showers and vents; denial of in-person visits; and lack of recreation, which exacerbates mental health issues.
It is especially concerning that three of the four facilities inspected by the OIG are run by private prison company GEO Group, which is seeking to expand detention operations in California and in other states such as Texas and Louisiana. What the OIG’s investigation demonstrates is that GEO is putting the lives of thousands of immigrants at risk and recklessly misusing millions of dollars in taxpayer money at the expense of detained individuals.
The report’s findings reinforce the fact that issues in ICE detention are not isolated — they are systemic. And yet, not one single entity in this detention apparatus is ever held accountable for these human rights violations. This is outrageous. More and more evidence points to the fact that ICE and private prison companies like GEO are incapable of providing for the well-being of immigrants. That’s why we must abolish detention. It’s time to implement humane community-based alternatives that treat people with dignity and respect.
Here are some photos from the report that depict some of the awful conditions or violations: