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The Need is Great for Detention Center Reform In Arizona

The Need is Great for Detention Center Reform In Arizona

Posted by Matthew Green | Dec 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

An alien is placed in a detention facility when he is apprehended and detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officers or other law enforcement agencies. ICE has implemented its own policies regarding the safety and security of detainees in its facilities during their time in custody.

According to its website, ICE states that its underlying mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, trade, immigration, and customs.

In achieving this mission, ICE has delegated detention policies and procedures to the Detention Management Division. This department supervises the country's largest civil detention system. This system is designed to hold a diverse population and houses both men and women.

ICE maintains that it works to identify, apprehend, and remove aliens that are subject to deportation proceedings. According to ICE, this government agency strives to arrest and deport aliens when necessary. The agency states that its priorities revolve around convicted criminals, those who pose a threat to national security, and dangerous fugitives.

Once arrested by ICE agents, they typically move deportable immigrants from one location to another, manage the deportable immigrants that are currently in custody, provide legal resources, and remove aliens who have been ordered to be deported.

Currently, ICE is working to reform some of its policies in order to better abide by its mission. It is now working to reduce detainee transfers, allow for a greater access to both legal counsel and visitation, encourage recreation, develop better conditions of confinement and provide access to proper medical, mental, and dental care.

These reforms are needed and welcomed; specifically related to mental health of detainees. A study conducted by the advocacy group Detention Watch Network reports that detainees who suffer from mental disabilities are often ignored or at risk for greater abuse. The use of straitjackets and solitary confinement may be used to “treat” detainees that suffer from mental disabilities.

Furthermore, regarding treatment of mental conditions, detainees were only allowed to talk with psychiatrists through the use of video conferencing. This practice was justified by one detention center staff member by saying “[t]hese people are just going to be deported and referral out is costly.”

The need to video conference with psychiatrists is based, in part, on the fact that there are not nearly enough psychiatric doctors on staff to work with the current detainee population. For example, the detention facility in Adelanto, CA generally has only one psychiatric doctor for 1,300 detainees.

While it's working towards reforms, ICE has stated how it plans to best maximize resources. To begin with, it wants to focus on the best possible methods to protect national security and the country's immigration system. Again, ICE maintains that its energy is put towards the investigation, apprehension and deportation of criminal aliens, fugitives, and recent border violators.

These reforms and concerns make an impact in Tucson. Arizona has detention facilities in both Eloy and Florence.  These centers are located in the southern part of Arizona and the Law Offices of Matthew H. Green represents clients in both locations.

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Partner. Green | Evans-Schroeder (formerly Law Offices of Matthew H. Green) focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...


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