Immigration

Confidential DHS Report Found ICE Kept 'Alarming' Number of Mentally Ill Detainees in Solitary Confinement

A previously confidential DHS report found "inhumane" use of solitary confinement against mentally ill detainees at an ICE detention center.

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An Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center kept an "alarming" number of mentally ill immigrant detainees in solitary confinement for "shockingly" long times, according to a previously confidential Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo obtained by the Project on Government Oversight. One detainee was held in solitary for 904 days.

A 2017 DHS review of an ICE detention center in Adelanto, California, which is operated under a contract by the company GEO Group, found that the detention center's use of prolonged solitary confinement on mentally ill detainees was "both inhumane and in violation of" ICE policy.

The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties found that incompetent clinical leadership led not only to mentally ill detainees being put in solitary, but also the provision of inadequate medical care, which resulted in detainee injuries and deaths. The same DHS office released a similar report in 2015 that recommended immediately overhauling the detention center's clinical leadership and solitary practices. However, not only were those recommendations ignored, ICE leadership went on television news and told audiences there were no problems at the Adelanto detention center.

POGO reports:

In April 2018, the review was sent to current acting director Matthew Albence, who at the time was head of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations division, the part of the agency that arrests, detains, and deports immigrants.

Albence has been a stalwart defender of his agency's detention centers. This summer, during a Fox & Friends segment that also featured an arranged tour of Adelanto, Albence said the facility is "representative of all our detention centers," calling them "humane" and "safe."

"This review shows that ICE's leadership isn't taking findings by the Department's own experts seriously enough," says POGO director of investigations Nick Schwellenbach. "Because these findings are typically secret, they can be easily ignored, putting people at unnecessary risk for months and years."

The treatment of immigrant detainees and the conditions inside ICE detention centers are the subject of numerous lawsuits, and the records shine more light on how thousands of detainees were subjected to solitary confinement under the Obama and Trump administrations.

The Atlantic recently obtained a trove of documents and data on ICE's use of solitary confinement, and it reported that detainees were put in solitary confinement for reasons including "contraband sugar packets, calling a border guard a 'redneck,' menstruating on a prison uniform, kissing another detainee, identifying as gay, and requesting an ankle brace":

The documents demonstrate that both the Obama and Trump administrations used solitary confinement extensively and that both administrations struggled to adequately track when and why people were being isolated. The data also indicate that while the number of immigrants in solitary confinement has grown in proportion to the detainee population, the Trump administration in its first year was more likely to cite mental illness and hunger strikes as reasons for sending immigrants to solitary confinement than the Obama administration was in its final year in office.

Civil liberties advocates and prisoner rights groups say prolonged solitary confinement can have devastating mental and physical effects, especially for those with preexisting mental health issues. In 2011, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture concluded that solitary confinement beyond 15 days constituted cruel and inhumane punishment.

The number of U.S. inmates held in solitary confinement has dropped over the past five years, but in 2018 an estimated 61,000 people still faced imprisonment in tiny cells for up to 22 hours a day in prisons across the country.

A lawsuit filed earlier this month against the Virginia Department of Corrections alleges that an inmate at Red Onion state prison with a history of mental illness was put in solitary confinement for more than 600 days, during which time he dropped 30 pounds, lost the ability to speak coherently, and can no longer remember his own name.

In May, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to end solitary confinement at the state's Red Onion and Wallens Ridge prisons. The lawsuit alleges that inmates subjected to long-term isolation "have suffered severe physical and mental health damage, including weight loss, auditory and visual hallucinations, emotional distress, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, severe sensory deprivation, and suicidal thoughts."

Reason reported last month on a new civil rights lawsuit filed by a Florida inmate who says he was thrown into solitary confinement for seven months for involuntarily biting a guard while he was having a seizure.

The lawsuit comes as the FDOC is fighting another class-action lawsuit—brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida Legal Services, and the Florida Justice Institute—challenging the state's use of prolonged solitary confinement on inmates.

"There's a growing scientific and community consensus that solitary confinement amounts to torture—mostly psychologically, but also for physical issues as well," Dante Trevisani, executive director of the Florida Justice Institute, told Reason. "When you deprive people of like basic human contact, it can be very devastating for them. That's especially true with people who have existing mental illness, or have other disabilities, or are pregnant or juveniles."

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  1. “An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center kept an “alarming” number of mentally ill immigrant detainees ”

    How does Reason know they are immigrants ?
    If people in military uniforms and armed cross the border illegally and get detained, what does Reason call them ?

    This obvious lie by Reason to its readers continues unabated

    1. “…according to a previously confidential Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.”

      These horrible LIES are coming from DHS, paid for by YOUR tax money!!! Write outraged letters to your CongressSlimes NOW!

      1. So are you telling me the memo is to blame ?
        Or Reason simply accepting the memo without criticism ?

        1. Well, if space aliens came and forcefully (against your will) took over your brain, and set your aluminum-foil hat on fire, I would take offense with Reason for merely calling the space aliens “immigrants” instead of “invaders”. So your point is actually well taken.

          1. Well, of you let armed soldiers cross thee border illegally under the guise of being immigrants. then you may see human invaders at your door .

            The open border theory will NOT stop them at the border!

            1. How many nations have been sending armed, uniformed, mentally ill soldiers across our borders? If there’s enough of them, maybe Trump could score some more points with His base, by following the below suggestions…

              Anyone recall the Iran-Iraq wars of the 1980s? Lots of it was fought in low-laying salt-water marshes. Very tough terrain for Iraqi military vehicles… And it is expensive to bring in bunches of rocks or logs to raise up the mud to make roads. But there were BUTTLOADS of Iranian corpses just laying around for free! So the Iraqis just limed ’em up (for rot-proofing), and lined ‘em up and laid ‘em down to make roads! Lime ’em up, line ’em up, lay ’em down!

              So we can soon expect Der TrumpfenFuhrer to steal a page from the Iran-Iraq war! The Mexicans won’t pay for His Walls?!? Make raids on Mexican peasant villages, round up conscript wall-building labor, and build the wall out of the limed-up corpses of mentally ill illegal sub-human invading soldiers!!! (Or at least the top-rim of the wall, for max psychological intimidation). For every American soldier killed in the effort, there will be reprisal shootings of 200 more illegal un-Americans!

              1. For the love of Pete are all you open border progressive / quasi libertarians really this childish?

                1. Seeking SOME limits to ever-growing Government Almighty isn’t childish. The belief that ever-growing Big Daddy Collective Hive will protect us all from all bumps and bruises, is childish.

                  The collective hive mandated WAY too many licenses, before we’re allowed to earn an honest living… Too many min wages and other mandates. Put too many of us into poverty. To “help” with this poverty problem that The Collective Hive created, The Collective Hive gave us welfare. Welfare then attracts too many illegal sub-humans, sometimes, so to fix THAT problem, The Collective Hive now wants e-verify and giant border walls and giant border armies… And now also property confiscations for wall-building… So I suppose The Collective Hive will next fire up the military draft to fix THAT problem! (Lack of a large enough wall-and-army forces).

                  When will we stop the perpetual cycle of Government Almighty always getting bigger, to fix the LAST batch of problems created by excessive Government Almighty?

                  1. You can start reducing the size of government by cutting my taxes by 80%. Until you do that, I’m not interested in your bloviations about liberty because you’re obviously just a socialist misusing libertarian language to achieve your totalitarian aims

                    1. Objecting to constant cycles of Government Almighty always getting bigger to “fix” the last set of problems created by Government Almighty perpetually getting bigger, is totalitarian, HOW, now, Brown Cow?

                    2. The issues you choose to focus on are the issues socialists focus on in their attempt to get Western democracies and free markets to destroy themselves. That’s how.

                    3. Government Almighty bigger = individual freedoms smaller = all is for the Collective Hive = totalitarianism.

                      Government Almighty smaller = the exact opposite.

                      The issues that I focus on, are the ones where Government Almighty always gets bigger, when there are other, better choices, that allow for more individual freedom.

                      That’s the language I speak. What language do you speak?

                    4. The issues that I focus on, are the ones where Government Almighty always gets bigger, when there are other, better choices, that allow for more individual freedom

                      Socialists love talking about how socialism allows for “more individual freedom”, and you take the same view: you care about increases in average freedoms for people across the world, and heck, if you need to trample on the rights of some people in the process, you don’t even notice it.

                    5. OK, got it… Individual freedom is slavery,
                      slavery to Nationalism (Make MY Country Great Again, the rest can go to hell) is freedom! This is clarifying in my head! Thanks!

                    6. OK, got it… Individual freedom is slavery,

                      It can be. Like when you obtain your freedom at the expensive other people’s freedoms. You know, like slavers throughout history.

                    7. September.13.2019 at 8:12 pm
                      “You can start reducing the size of government by cutting my taxes by 80%. Until you do that, I’m not interested in your bloviations about liberty because you’re obviously just a socialist misusing libertarian language to achieve your totalitarian aims”

                      So you can do that?

                    8. Are you asking whether the US government can reduce my taxes by 80%? Why wouldn’t it? It can do so trivially, tomorrow, without violating anybody’s rights.

                      Furthermore, it’s easy for libertarians to advocate actual libertarianism: “open borders after you reduce the size of government to less than 5% of GDP”. See how easy that is?

                      On the other hand, if you advocate “open borders now and reducing the size of government when it’s politically feasible”, you’re not advocating libertarianism, you’re advocating socialism.

    2. Even worse is the claim that this practice can be pinned on both the Obama and Trump administrations when obviously if the problem started with Obama then Trump is entirely blameless in simply continuing the practices of his predecessor. This whole article is just one more sad and pathetic deranged “Orange Man Bad” screed. Sad! And pathetic.

      Almost as bad as all those articles last night about the Democratic debates where they took every opportunity to play the “Orange Man Bad” refrain. Oh, sure, they’re very careful to not actually mention Trump by name or actually say anything about him, but it’s clearly there in the subtext if you know where to look. I mean, there’s a button just below this very comment box that says “Submit”. It’s an *orange* button. Do I have to draw you a picture? Pure TDS.

      1. Report was from april 2017 and copied a report from 2015. Not even sure they can say orange man bad here until we get a more recent report.

  2. Authoritarian bigots have been on the defensive in America throughout my lifetime.

    This seems to make the vestigial bigots cranky and mean-spirited.

    Carry on, clingers. Until you are replaced.

    1. Blah-Blah-Blah Orangeman bad blah-blah-blah … Thanks for the insightful posting

      1. These reports are from Obama’s policies. So think he means black man bad.

      2. Orange Man Bad v. Black Man Bad (White Man Superior).

        Always a great debate.

        Carry on, clingers.

        1. One can’t have a debate with fascists like you, Kirkland.

          1. Guys like you get to be part of the debate . . . until you are replaced.

            By your betters.

            Until then . . . carry on, clinger.

    2. True: people like you have been on the defensive, Kirkland. With a bit of luck, the US will overcome your evil ideologies.

    3. Carry on, clingers.

      Is that from The Official TDS List of Clever Comments™?

  3. And what is the alternative for mentally ill people? Put them with the general population where it is harder to monitor putting other detainees potentially at risk or the mentally ill person at risk?

    Releasing them in the public where the general public is potentially at risk or the mentally ill detainee is at greater risk?

    1. I don’t understand how they got here if they are in fact mentally ill. Regardless they are here but they simply can’t let loose into the US without some process. Likewise what do you do with thousands of mentally ill people in detention other than separate them in order to protect them and others until you can determine if they need special help etc…

  4. “The Trump administration in its first year was more likely to cite mental illness and hunger strikes as reasons for sending immigrants to solitary confinement than the Obama administration was in its final year in office.”

    —-The Atlantic

    Thank goodness the Atlantic is here to bring this important distinction to our attention–is that what I’m supposed to think?

    1. Sorry but I can’t help but think that regardless of the intent of the piece it appears that Trump is doing a better job of trying to deal with the hordes of immigrants trying enter the country illegally. I would think until you can determine whether a mentally ill person is a danger you need to isolate. If someone is on a hunger strike you need to isolate in order to monitor their health.

      1. 1972…..Yo, you need to stop making sense. Clearly, you cannot be a Democrat as you used something called ‘reason’ and ‘logic’. 🙂

        Totally agree….isolating mentally ill and hunger strike detainees is just plain common sense.

        1. If they’re refusing to eat our food—what’s the down side?

  5. All 7 billion people who don’t live in the US have a right to move and live here, even the mentally ill.

    1. Thank you for this moment of humor… I needed after the debacle last night.

    2. anything less than that is inhumane, don’t you know

  6. Confidential DHS Report Found ICE Kept ‘Alarming’ Number of Mentally Ill Detainees in Solitary Confinement

    Alarming would be zero or >100% capacity. Everything else seems to be less alarming and more accurately predicted.

  7. The number of U.S. inmates held in solitary confinement has dropped over the past five years, but in 2018 an estimated 61,000 people still faced imprisonment in tiny cells for up to 22 hours a day in prisons across the country.

    How dare they treat illegal aliens like common niggers!

  8. Of course, if they weren’t using solitary confinement, the headline would have been “dangerous mentally ill detainees allowed to roam free among immigrant families in detention!”

    1. You broke the code. Congrats.

  9. Personally I find it somewhat alarming that we have alarming numbers of mentally ill people illegally crossing our borders in the first place.

    1. They’re not sending us their best and brightest, as some politician once said.

  10. Aren’t these people free to leave anytime they want? Nobody forced them into an ICE facility.

    1. I have attempted to look up what the procedure is for those who wish to give up their claims to be admitted and go home, but I haven’t been successful. Other commenters here have made the claim that the detainees are free to go home any time they want to but haven’t provided any links to back that up.

      1. I have provided links multiple times. There were also Reason stories that explained it. You simply keep denying facts because you’re a bigot and ideologue.

        1. You provided links to documents that you apparently did not read, because they did not address the question. I’m still interested in what the procedure is if anyone knows.

          1. They do address the question: at your next court appointment, they withdraw their asylum claim and petition for voluntary departure. They can petition the court in writing to expedite their hearing. It’s standard immigration procedure. What else do you want?

            1. You keep describing the paperwork. What I would like to know is the actual timing and procedure for physically removing the detainee from the detention facility and transporting them to…where? Are they taken to the border or transported back to whatever their home country is? How and by whom? When? That’s what I want. That’s what addresses the question of whether it’s true they are “free to leave anytime they want”, which I’m quite sure is not the case.

              1. Are they taken to the border or transported back to whatever their home country is? How and by whom? When? That’s what I want. That’s what addresses the question of whether it’s true they are “free to leave anytime they want”, which I’m quite sure is not the case.

                They are free to leave any time they want the same way they came: to some place outside the US with their own resources. All this requires is withdrawing their application and asking the court for voluntary departure. After approval, they’re out in a couple of days by whatever route they have chosen and paid for.

                If they lack the resources to travel or they don’t have any place to go to, it’s not the US that’s keeping them in detention, it’s their circumstances. Nevertheless, the US will go out of its way to try to expedite their departure because we want to be rid of these people. Most of those cases can be resolved in a few weeks if the detainee genuinely cooperates.

                Seriously, what reason do you think the US would have to keep illegal migrants in US detention centers against their will?

                1. Your first sentence is contradicted by the rest of your comment.

                  Seriously, what reason do you think the US would have to keep illegal migrants in US detention centers against their will?

                  Seriously, are you trying to be funny?

                  1. Your first sentence is contradicted by the rest of your comment.

                    Well, you can believe what you will, but I explained the procedure to you:

                    (1) If the detainee drops his application to enter the US and has the means to depart, they can depart as soon as the court approves their departure, usually within a few days.

                    (2) If the detainee lacks the means to depart on their own, they will be deported. The US will pick up the cost of travel and make the arrangements for repatriation. This usually can be done within a few weeks.

                    People stay in US immigration detention for extended periods of time for only one reason: because they maintain an application to enter the US; as soon as they drop that, the US makes every effort to get them out of detention. Those are the facts.

                    Seriously, are you trying to be funny?

                    No. Are you trying to be funny? For many decades, the goal of US public policy and the will of the voters has been to send illegal aliens home. What possible reason would Americans have to want to keep these people in detention? They are detained for one reason and one reason only: because they have applied to enter the US, were found on US territory, but currently don’t have a valid visa.

  11. In the glorious olden Nation of Immigrants days when Ellis Island flourished, mentally I’ll people seeking to immigrate were sent back home at the expense of the transporter who brought them. They were only detained until they were put back on the boat.

    1. So, if a mentally ill person walks across the border, we should detain them until we can take them to the border and point them South? Maybe give them a bottle of gatoraide to hold them for the walk?

    2. Medical science has changed considerably in the past 150 years or so.

      If the border were Ellis island 98% of people showing up would be admitted within hours and eventually become citizens.

      1. Mental illness is hard and expensive to treat. Why should US tax payers pay for the healthcare of third world peasants who are going to contribute nothing to US society or government revenue?

        1. “Third world peasants.”

          That says so much.

          1. It’s an accurate description of the population that’s coming in, isn’t it? Or how else would you describe them?

              1. Well, all peasants are people. What is relevant here, however, is that they are not just people in general, but third world peasants, a population that differs from American in their lack of education, lack of skills, lack of productivity, and need for costly social services and medical are.

                1. The government legal enforcement has met and detained such people in facilities paid by you and I.

                  Surely there are no Americans with lack of education, skills, productivity, and need for expensive social services and medical care.

                  I really like this one “they are not just people in general”. It really formulates the difference between us.

                  1. The government legal enforcement has met and detained such people in facilities paid by you and I.

                    And that’s wrong. Anybody who is not a citizen and doesn’t have a valid visa should be removed from the country immediately. And that’s the law: expedited removal.

                    Surely there are no Americans with lack of education, skills, productivity, and need for expensive social services and medical care.

                    There are far too many already and they are straining our social welfare state and our budgets to the breaking point. That’s why it is so idiotic to add millions more to that population.

                    I really like this one “they are not just people in general”. It really formulates the difference between us.

                    Indeed it does: you are a virtue signaling self-righteous prick who wants to turn the US into a third world shithole. I’m an immigrant who has lived in socialist shitholes and doesn’t want the US to turn into one.

  12. You mean Mexico isn’t sending their best?

    1. Mexico is not “sending” anyone.

      1. Sure they are. They don’t want those people in Mexico.

      2. The Mexican government has a long history of encouraging and facilitating both legal and illegal emigration to the US.

        “Before you talk, you should read a book”—The B52s

        1. We are all in our own private idaho.

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LAWF1OaMD8U

  13. “inhumane” use of solitary confinement

    Do you think maybe liberally throwing around “inhumane” for everything including what used to be referred to as plain old jail, might make you lose a bit of credibility

    I know you guys think mentally ill illegal immigrants need to be allowed to freely roam the country and open up food trucks (because that’s what mentally ill natives do, naturally), but the shrill emoting makes you sound like NPR.

  14. Telling us that a whole lot of people trying to illegally immigrate here are mentally ill might not be the PR win for the open borders crowd you seem to think it is…

    1. If you had bothered to link to the documents.

      14 detained individuals were documented by ICE as seriously mentally ill.

      The medical expert found multiple cases of neglect in medical care by the ICE hired facility.

      It is not that difficult. The prisons, ICE, have the ability to contract with medical providers. They all do this.

      1. And why should I as a US tax payer pay for the treatment of mentally ill South Americans?

        1. You should not.

          Yet the government has taken many South Americans into custody.

          When it does that it takes responsibility for basic needs. You know until trial all that. So does the local jail here. Food and basic medical care are top of the list. Right to legal representation is another.

          Or just have North Korea.

          1. You have a fundamentally wrong understanding of what immigration hearings and detention are. They are not “trials” nor are people “in custody”. Due process doesn’t apply, and there is no right to legal representation. People are applying for a special benefit and privilege (entry into the US), and they made a choice to do so from detention, as opposed to from outside the US. That was their choice, and it was their responsibility to ensure that they were prepared for the process.

            Take it from an immigrant: that’s the reality of immigration across the world, and there is nothing morally or legally wrong with it. Entry into a country is a privilege, not a right.

            1. You did not read the medical report.

              1. I didn’t comment on “the medical report”, I corrected your incorrect statements about the legal situation. Immigration detainees are not on trial and they are not in custody; they don’t have a right to due process or to legal representation; they don’t have a right to US government services or welfare. It’s a status they enter voluntarily, in violation of US law, and it is their responsibility to be prepared for it and deal with the consequences.

                1. There we have our difference.

                  I do not agree with the legal situation.

                  Libertarians often do not agree with the legal situation.

                  1. You didn’t just “not agree” with the legal situation, you misrepresented it.

                    But even from a libertarian point of view, what “libertarian” principle requires people to get free legal representation from the state? What “libertarian” principle requires anybody to pay for feeding and housing someone else?

                    You’re not a libertarian, you’re a collectivist: you think that Americans have a collective duty to feed, house, and give legal representation to people they have never met and have no relation with.

                    1. No I do not think the government should be confining these people at all. With the exception of those accused of violent crime. Those individuals should be held with acceptable limits of incarceration and the right to legal representation.

                      Once you accept the responsibility of involuntary incarceration then you accept certain rules. By your definition quote you “I’m sure ICE agents have killed people. Why would that warrant any special kind of response?” That is acceptable to you. It is not to me any more than my local jail.

                      Once again that is where we do not agree.

                    2. The government is not “confining these people”. They are not “incarcerated”. They can leave any time they want, just not onto US territory. They don’t need legal representation to leave, all they need to do is get on a plane/train to somewhere else.

                    3. By your definition quote you “I’m sure ICE agents have killed people. Why would that warrant any special kind of response?” That is acceptable to you. It is not to me any more than my local jail.

                      You misconstrued what I was saying. I am saying that ICE agents killing detainees is no different from any US government official killing people: it’s wrong, it’s illegal, and it’s persecuted by the US government. It happens thousands of times to Americans every year, but for some reason you think it warrants special attention when it happens to law breaking aliens.

                    4. (Obviously, I mean “prosecuted”, no “persecuted”.)

  15. Outrageous! Obviously, any mentally ill person showing up on US borders should immediately be transported to San Francisco, where they can live and poop on the street just like mentally ill Americans!

  16. Only workers come here, so I have a confused.

  17. Reason:
    “Mentally Ill People Thrown Into A Solitary Confinement Cage For Years For The ‘Crime’ of Insulting The Cops…”

    Reason commenters:
    What an outrage! Those cops should be fired! They’re abusing their authority! Fuck the state!

    “… Oh And By The Way, Those Individuals Were Immigrants”

    Reason commenters:
    Oh well, that changes everything. Let’s hear it for the cops for keeping us safe! Why didn’t they keep them in solitary confinement longer? After all they could have been terrorists! Three Cheers for ICE! USA! USA! USA!

  18. Can you imagine what the Reason commenter response would be if an ICE agent ‘accidentally’ choked an immigrant to death while in custody? I guarantee that victim wouldn’t be treated like Eric Garner around here.

    1. I’m sure ICE agents have killed people. Why would that warrant any special kind of response?

  19. This is one case where I would actually approve of turning illegal aliens loose on the streets of San Francisco, Seattle, or Los Angeles.

    This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

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