Detention facilities to be more humane
ICE plans to make nine facilities more humane, by eliminating lock-downs, increasing visitor time, and providing e-mail access and Internet-based free phone service, the agency says.
The list of changes were leaked in a memo to the Houston Chronicle this week as it begins to implement the changes in low-risk units. Some of the changes will take place in 30 days, while others will take longer.
Other changes to be implemented will include allowing detainees to wear regular clothes, offering movie nights, bingo, dance and cooking classes, fresh plants, and four hours of recreation. ICE says that there will be no additional costs as a result of these changes.
The nine CCA facilities include Florence Service Processing Center, Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility, Eloy Detention Center, Houston Contract Detention Center, Laredo Contract Detention Facility, North Georgia Detention Center, Otay Detention Center, Stewart Detention Center, and T. Don Hutto Detention Center.
It is unknown whether other facilities such as those owned be GEO Group will make changes or whether the nine CCA facilities will become the sole hub for low-risk detainees. Currently, ICE has agreements with almost 300 facilities to hold detainees. The CCA facilities are some of the largest facilities holding detainees today, which in the past has been scolded for inhumane conditions.
While ICE Union reps argue that these new changes raise safety questions, immigration advocate welcome the changes. This is a huge win for advocates, who have been pressuring the Obama administration for comprehensive immigration reform — especially since reform is likely to go untouched in Congress before the 2010 mid-term election.