Monday, February 1, 2010

IC Report "Immigration Detention Overview and Recommendations"

Here is an executive summary to an ICE report [pdf] on detentions. -Angela

Executive Summary

This Report provides a comprehensive review and evaluation of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) system of Immigration Detention. It relies on information gathered by Dr. Dora Schriro, most recently the Director of the Office of Detention Policy and Planning, during tours of 25 facilities, discussions with detainees and employees, meetings with over 100 non-governmental organizations and federal, state, and local officials, and the review of data and reports from governmental agencies and human rights organizations.

The findings are based on analyses of the ICE detainee population and arrest activities conducted specifically for this review. The Report describes the policy, human capital, informational, and management challenges associated with the rapid expansion of ICE’s detention capacity from fewer than 7,500 beds in 1995 to over 30,000 today, without the benefit of tools for population forecasting, management, on-site monitoring, and central procurement.

The Report identifies important distinctions between the characteristics of the Immigration Detention population in ICE custody and the administrative purpose of their detention—which is to hold, process, and prepare individuals for removal—as compared to the punitive purpose of the Criminal Incarceration system.

The Report underscores the opportunity for ICE, in coordination with stakeholders, to design and implement a detention system with policies, facilities, programs, and oversight mechanisms that align with the administrative purpose of Immigration Detention.

The Report provides a seven part framework for meeting the challenge of developing a new system of Immigration Detention. It concludes with concrete recommendations for reform in each of the seven areas of focus.
Core Findings

ICE operates the largest detention and supervised release program in the country. A total of 378,582 aliens from 221 countries were in custody or supervised by ICE in FY 2008; activities in 2009 remain at a similar level. On September 1, 2009, ICE had 31,075 aliens in detention at more than 300 facilities throughout the United States and territories, with an additional 19,169 aliens in Alternative to Detention programs.

Of the aliens in detention on September 1, 66 percent were subject to mandatory detention and 51 percent were felons, of which, 11 percent had committed violent crimes. The majority of the population is characterized as low custody, or having a low propensity for violence.

With only a few exceptions, the facilities that ICE uses to detain aliens were built, and operate, as jails and prisons to confine pre-trial and sentenced felons. ICE relies primarily on correctional incarceration standards designed for pre-trial felons 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 population.

ICE is comprised primarily of law enforcement personnel with extensive expertise performing removal functions, but not in the design and delivery of detention facilities and community-based alternatives.

ICE utilizes a number of disparate strategies to detain aliens in its custody, supervise aliens on community supervision, and provide medical care to the detained population.
Key Recommendations

ICE should establish a system of Immigration Detention with the requisite management tools and informational systems to detain and supervise aliens in a setting consistent with assessed risk. ICE should provide programs to the detained population commensurate with assessed need and create capacity within the organization to assess and improve detention operations.

In coordination with stakeholders, ICE should develop a new set of standards, assessments, and classification tools to inform care, custody restrictions, privileges, programs, and delivery of services consistent with risk level and medical care needs of the population. ICE should expand access to legal materials and counsel, visitation, and religious practice. ICE should also develop unique provisions for serving special populations such as women, families, and asylum seekers.

ICE should establish a well-managed medical care system, with comprehensive initial assessments to inform housing assignments and ongoing care management. ICE should establish clear standards of care for detainees and monitor conditions systematically.

ICE should provide federal oversight of key detention operations and track performance and outcomes. It should place expert federal officials on-site to oversee detention operations, to intercede as necessary, and to ensure that there are appropriate grievance and disciplinary processes.

Next Steps

Some recommendations can be actualized soon; others will require further analysis, including a comprehensive budget review. In order for ICE to achieve sustainable, organizational change, it must continue the progress of recent months.

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