By Rik Glauert
Intercept report finds ICE is putting thousands in ‘inhuman’ solitary confinement
Along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), they compiled more than 8,400 reports describing ICE detainees being forced into solitary confinement.
This included authorities using solitary confinement to segregate LGBTI detainees.
Authorities also used it to punish detainees for offenses as minor as consensual kissing.
In nearly a third of the cases, detainees were described as having a mental illness, according to ICIJ.
The United Nations has said solitary confinement should be banned except for ‘exceptional circumstances’.
The UN considers solitary confinement for more than 15 days ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’.
But, the ICIJ found more than half of the 8,488 incidents report lasted longer than 15 days.
In 187 cases, authorities detained immigrants for more than six months. In 31 cases, more than a year.
A year in solitary confinement
One detainee was 37-year-old Dulce Rivera, from Honduras.
ICE officers placed the transgender woman in solitary confinement in May, 2018.
‘You never know what day it is, what time it is,’ Rivera told Intercept. ‘Sometimes you never see the sun.’
Nearly four weeks after she was placed in solitary confinement, Rivera fashioned a noose from a torn blanket and hanged herself from a ceiling vent.
Guards cut her down before she died. She then spent much of the next year in ’suicide safe’ solitary confinement.
She blames her treatment at the hands of authorities for her mental breakdown.
ICE spokesperson Danielle Bennett told the ICIJ solitary confinement ‘protects detainees, staff, contractors, and volunteers from harm’.
Bennett said half a percent of ICE’s population was held in solitary for 14 days or more in 2018.
Last month, it emerged ICE staff in New Mexico allegedly subjected gay and transpeople to ‘rampant’ abuse.
Queer migrants at the Otero County Processing Center were threatened and subjected to solitary confinement after complaining about conditions. Or punished for simply sharing coffee.
Guards allegedly interrupted showers and offered to help trans women bathe.
Medical staff refused to provide hormones for three trans women.
A report said the guards barked ‘transphobic commands like “Walk like a man! You better sit like a man!”
What’s more, in 2018, Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender asylum seeker from Central America, died in ICE custody.
An autopsy revealed she may have been beaten before she died.
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