By Michele Chadwick
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week announced plans to close Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama, and significantly scale back its Glades County Detention Center in Moore Haven, Fla., Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, La., and Alamance County Detention Facility in Graham, N.C.
These closures were made to reinforce ICE’s commitment to “conditions are humane, meet[ing] applicable standards, and represent[ing] a responsible use of appropriated funding,” according to an ICE statement.
The Etowah detention center has a long history of documented abuse.
In theannouncement of the closure, ICE said “the Etowah County Detention Center has a long history of serious deficiencies identified during facility inspections and is of limited operational significance to the agency.”
ICE is reducing the other centers’ use citing concerns about conditions.
The Glades center was already at a reduced capacity “due to persistent and ongoing concerns related to the provision of detainee medical care, and because the facility is of limited operational significance,” said ICE, adding the Alamance center’s reduction is “due to limited operational use and concerns about conditions, including a lack of outdoor recreation.”
The Winn center’s reduction is being done, said ICE, to “better match the appropriate use of the facility, more closely aligning the guaranteed minimum to Winn’s historical and recent staffing constraints.”
After the American Civil Liberties Union campaigned for the closure of “39 ICE detention facilities nationwide, all notable for histories of egregious treatment and civil rights violations” in 2019, ACLU Deputy National Political Director Maribel Hernández Rivera made the following remarks about the detention centers.
“ICE’s announcement that it will close Etowah County Detention Center is welcome news. The facility has a long history of abuse and neglect, including documented cases of assault, inadequate medical care, and failure to protect people from the deadly threat of COVID-19.”
Rivera added, “It is not enough, however, to merely scale back operations at Glades, Winn, and Alamance, the three other facilities ICE issued concerns about. These detention centers also have unacceptable records, including unsanitary conditions, medical neglect, and retaliation against detained people for raising concerns about conditions. Every day that these facilities remain open jeopardizes the lives of people detained there.”
“Ultimately, the Biden administration must do much more than close and scale back a select few facilities, especially as it continues to greatly expand detention elsewhere. If the Biden administration truly wants to address the pervasive cruelty and suffering in ICE facilities, it must end its reliance on immigration detention and invest in community-based alternatives to detention,” the ACLU argued.