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Women's Commission Issues Statement Opposing New Family Detention Centers

The Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children has issued a strong statement (PDF) opposing Immigration and Customs Enforcement's proposal to construct three new contracted family detention centers around the country.

The facilities would dramatically expand the system of family detention made notorious at Corrections Corporation of America's T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor. Bids for the facilities are due next Monday, June 16th. According to the release,

The Women’s Commission calls on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately halt the alarming growth of family detention. “This is a system that has already been found to be completely inappropriate for families, and we are deeply distressed by this expansion,” said Michelle Brané, director of the detention and asylum program with the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children. “What’s more, it ignores the explicit directive of Congress that ICE release families whenever possible.”

The decision to add new facilities to the agency’s roster of family detention centers comes despite a 2007 lawsuit alleging that children detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas were subjected to conditions of confinement that violated minimum standards of care for minors in federal custody. The resulting settlement forced ICE to undertake substantial modifications in physical appearance, medical care, disciplinary actions, education and recreation at the Hutto facility.

ICE responded to the lawsuit and massive public outcry by issuing “family residential standards.”
However, they are based on adult correctional standards intended to regulate the behavior of criminal inmates, not preserve and protect the unique needs of non-criminal families. Also, DHS’ Request for Proposals for the new facilities violates its own standards in an alarming number of critical areas, including the provision of medical care, education, recreation and the use of restraining devices. “ICE’s failure to comply with its own standards is further evidence that the agency does not intend to open—or at the very least, properly administer—family-centered, non-penal residential programs,” according to Brané.
For more on the three new proposed family detention centers, see our coverage from last week or check out for background information and to read the bidding documents.
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