(CNN) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not adequately monitor or monitor solitary confinement in immigration detention centers across the country, according to a review of regulations. of the agency carried out by a watchdog.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general found that the immigration agency lacks effective oversight and clear policies to ensure accurate and comprehensive monitoring and reporting on the use of solitary confinement, known as segregation.
From fiscal year 2015 to 2019, the DHS hotline received 1,200 reports related to concerns about solitary confinement, including such matters as detainees did not know why they had been placed there and were threatened with being placed in solitary confinement.
This is the first time the watchdog has conducted a systematic review of ICE’s use of insulation, providing an overview of the issues that have drawn scrutiny for years.
The agency also had trouble with record keeping, according to the review, which spanned the five-year period.
These shortcomings mean that ICE does not have a complete picture when it comes to the use of isolation, a policy that has caused concern for a long time among immigration advocates and some legislators, particularly when it comes to its use for detainees with mental health problems.
ICE uses segregation for both punitive and administrative purposes, meaning that detainees can end up in solitary confinement when they need to protect themselves from others, when they pose a threat to others, and for medical reasons.
More than half of all isolation cases were for administrative reasons during the five-year period, according to data recorded by ICE.
The agency registered 13,784 segregation placements during that time, 7,917 of which were categorized as administrative and 5,867 as disciplinary, the watchdog reported.
The issue of solitary confinement came to the fore during the Trump administration after a whistleblower brought allegations of abuse in the system and a media consortium reported years of documentation related to solitary confinement cases.
In 2018, as part of a series on immigration, CNN reported on the case of Jeancarlo Alfonso Jiménez Joseph, a 27-year-old who committed suicide at the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia after being locked inside his cell for more than two weeks, a case that generated headlines around the world.
Georgia Office of Investigation records on Jiménez’s case revealed key details about the events leading up to his death and raised broader questions about the quality of medical and mental health care received by the tens of thousands of people under ICE custody.
Several previous DHS inspector general inspections have detailed violations of ICE detention standards for isolation, including detainees held in administrative segregation for long periods without proper documentation or reviews. In a 2020 inspection, the watchdog found that two detainees had been in isolation for more than 300 days.
Isolation can have serious consequences
In the latest report, the inspector general notes that numerous studies have found that any time spent in segregation can be detrimental to a person’s health and that individuals in isolation can experience negative psychological and physical effects even after being released.
“Without proper oversight, clear policies, and comprehensive data, ICE does not know the full extent of the use of segregation in detention facilities, hampering its ability to ensure policy compliance and prevent and detect potential misuse. of segregation, “says the inspector general’s report.
For example, the watchdog was not always able to determine whether ICE considered alternatives to segregation, as required by agency policy.
Additionally, ICE did not always meet its own reporting requirements. For example, a detainee’s placement was not registered in the agency’s system until 88 days of a 250-day segregation, in violation of policy.
The reporting delays could affect ICE’s ability to prevent misuse and prolonged isolation, the watchdog said.
The inspector general issued three recommendations: update the policy and guidelines, require all detention centers to collect and monitor standardized information, and ensure adherence to record-keeping schedules.
The agency agreed with all three recommendations.
“ICE remains committed to ensuring the proper use of segregation for its detainees, including a thorough review and oversight of segregation practices at facilities,” wrote ICE Chief Financial Officer Stephen Roncone in response to the report. of the inspector general.
The agency also remains committed to “continually improving” civilian detention operations, he added.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism