Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Spotlight on Executive Detention, Part I: “Broken ICE”

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Although this blog focuses on conditions for people being detained as part of the criminal trial process, or who are serving a criminal sentence, the United States of course detains people for many other reasons. Among those people are the 300,000 men, women, and children in immigration detention, and the hundreds of War on Terror detainees who have been held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Although these forms of executive detention often raise different legal questions than the criminal justice system, ultimately none of these issues are separable: they are all part of the same national conversation about liberty and security, and in that way they all inform each other.

So, I thought I would take a break from prison/jail news this morning, and highlight two recent articles about executive detention. (I’ll do this in two separate posts, so this is Part I.) First, immigration detention, which raises particularly salient human rights concerns not only because of the conditions of confinement in many of the facilities ICE uses, but also because it catches in its net so many families and even young children. In The Nation, Jacqueline Stevens has this commentary entitled “Broken ICE,” on America’s thoroughly broken system of immigration detention, focusing on one New York facility:

In January, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that by February 26 it would be transferring roughly 250 detainees from the privately run Varick Detention Center in Manhattan to the Hudson correctional center in Kearny, New Jersey. About 12,000 people annually, mostly New Yorkers who would be held at the Varick center, will now be distributed to facilities outside the city. ICE claims it is making the transfer to provide “outdoor recreation space and visitation services,” but civil rights advocates paint a darker picture.

“We view this as a lose-lose situation,” says Udi Ofer of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which, along with numerous other New York civil rights organizations, is disturbed that ICE is shifting people from one intolerable facility to another and not releasing them. The groups also worry that the move will deprive the Varick inmates of their free legal services.


Written by sara

March 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

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