Some Immigrant Detainees Choose Solitary for Protection

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Before immigrants are deported, they are generally detained — sometimes for years — as their cases are reviewed. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts out many of its detention facilities to private prison firms like CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and the GEO Group. Hundreds of logs obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request detailing the use of solitary confinement at three privately run ICE facilities provide a window into the conditions of desperation and violence that immigrants, including those diagnosed with mental illness, can face, reports The Verge.

The logs show that life inside the facilities can be so dangerous and hostile that many detainees have voluntarily admitted themselves to solitary confinement just to seek refuge from the general population. In other cases, detainees were disciplined with isolation for perpetrating acts of violence, sexual assault, or disruption; yet others were placed in solitary for more minor infractions, such as charging detainees for haircuts or “horse-playing.” In dozens of instances at a Georgia facility, detainees were put in solitary confinement for hunger striking; in one case, an detainee with a mental illness was placed in isolation at the request of ICE for reasons that facility officials writing the log readily admitted they did not understand. The logs for last year cover two CoreCivic facilities in Lumpkin, Ga., and Eloy, Az., and a third center in Pearsall, Tx., operated by the GEO Group. In 2013, the Obama administration ordered ICE to rein in the agency’s use of solitary confinement and to overhaul its record keeping of the practice.


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