ICE confinement amounts to abuse

The United States has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for relying on solitary confinement in its prisons more than any other democratic nation in the world. Immigration and Customs Enforcement places its jailed immigrants in solitary, this practice is startling because those detainees are being held on civil, not criminal, charges. As such, they are not supposed to be punished; they are simply confined to ensure that they appear for administrative hearings. One detainee was put in solitary confinement after declining to go to the jail’s eating area and refusing meals because he wanted to fast during Ramadan. A gay immigrant from Mexico, was put in solitary for four months in 2010, saying it was for his own protection. “I.C.E. is clearly using excessive force, since these are civil detentions, and that makes this a human rights abuse.” Detainees in solitary are routinely kept alone for 22 to 23 hours per day, sometimes in windowless 6-foot-by-13-foot cells. Access to phones and lawyers is far more restricted in solitary; occasionally such communications were permitted only in the middle of the night when it was unlikely anyone would be available. Immigrants are typically given an hour or so of recreation each day, detainees said. In some facilities, that is limited to pacing in what detainees call “the cage,” a sparse indoor enclosure with concrete floors and fencing on all sides, similar to an indoor dog kennel. Another detainee said she was isolated after guards found some peanut butter and a Kool-Aid packet in a bag in her cell. A victim o of human trafficking was put in solitary because guards said his crutches could be used as a weapon. He was kept in complete darkness for four days, wearing only his underwear.

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