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3/10: A Shocking Glimpse Inside America’s Privatized Detention Facilities For Immigrants (3)
Released 26 March 2016  By Erica Hellerstein - ThinkProgress

A Shocking Glimpse Inside America’s Privatized Detention Facilities For Immigrants

Erica Hellerstein - ThinkProgress
Mar 10, 2016

(....Continue from Part Two)

Not only does ICE measure different facilities against different standards, it also conducts three different kinds of inspections in detention centers: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) inspections, Office of Detention Oversight (ODO) inspections, and self-inspections. The ERO inspections, which determine whether or not a detention center will have its contract renewed, are conducted annually. They apply to detention centers that hold 50 people or more and essentially consist of a checklist of detention standards. The ODO inspections aren’t done with the same frequency, but they tend to be more thorough than the ERO. Finally, there are the self-assessments. These are for facilities that hold less than 50 detainees, or people for less than 72 hours overall.

Of ICE’s current 200-plus detention centers, Small estimates that about half are subject to this self-review process: “There’s basically no inspection process at all,” she said. “Given how much of a joke the actual [ODO and ERO] inspections are, I can’t imagine the self-inspections.”

ICE doesn’t make any of its inspections public, and it took NIJC years of litigation to obtain the reports. Moreover, the entities tasked with conducting the investigations are paid by ICE — either through contracts or as employees — and inspections are announced to facilities in advance. “Inspectors are not independent from the ICE hierarchy,” Small quipped.

“One of our key recommendations is that the inspections become more independent or out of the ERO chain of command,” NIJC’s Murray said. “Inspection reports can be edited before they’re ultimately submitted to ICE, and those changes aren’t tracked. Finally, detention centers rarely fail ERO inspections. In 2010 and 2012, no detention centers failed ERO inspections, and only four failed in 2011. Since 2009, ICE has not failed any detention center twice in a row, the provision necessary to terminate a contract.

Still, complaints of human rights and due process violations in the detention system persist. “In many cases, the poor conditions and mistreatment individuals suffer are explicitly prohibited under ICE detention standards,” the report concludes. “Instead of reporting on these violations, the inspectors focus on completing checklists and fail to engage with detained immigrants or follow up on issues raised in public reports. It is easy for facilities to pass inspections without actually upholding the standards’ intent.”
Stuck In Limbo

Zelaya was finally released on a $8,500 bond in February after spending more than a year in detention. Her health had seriously declined during that time, however. She struggled to manage her sickle cell anemia, developed stomach problems, and fell into a deep depression while at Hutto and Laredo. When her attorney visited her in November, she found that Zelaya had a swollen, irritated face, and couldn’t digest most of the food she was given.

Although she is no longer in detention, Zelaya’s saga is far from over. For now, it’s unclear what fate awaits her. She is still waiting on a decision in her asylum case and worries about her children, who remain in Honduras. “I want to take them out of Honduras before they get killed by the gang members or raped by their father, since he is a psychopath maniac he is capable of doing something,” she said in a statement. Zelaya’s partner, who she moved in with after leaving her ex-husband, tried to enter the U.S. but was deported and, she believes, was murdered back in Honduras.

As for what happened at Hutto, Zelaya feels she was gravely wronged.

“For being in a hunger strike for my health and my freedom, they punished me in a punishment cell of CCA Don Hutto,” she said. “Then they sent me punished to another detention center CCA LAREDO. I can’t take it, for God, public help me with my freedom and my life so I don’t get killed too.”

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