ACLU Still Waiting for Pinal County Jail to Get It Together on Immigrant Detention

It's been a year since the American Civil Liberties Union demanded immigration officials fix the conditions in which immigrants are detained at the Pinal County Jail, and if you ask the ACLU, it's no better today.

The ACLU's now asking that Department of Homeland Security officials remove immigrants from the jail, or actually fix the problems.

Many of these issues were covered in Gregory Pratt's New Times cover story last year ("Immigrants Who Fight Deportation Are Packed Into Federal Gulags for Months or Years Before Their Cases Are Heard"), explaining how civil immigration detainees in the jail's detention units are treated the same way as inmates facing criminal charges.

As Pratt pointed out in his story, a 2009 internal ICE report described that corrections are "punitive," and that detention is "civil."

The detainees -- some of whom are held there for years -- don't get outdoor exercise, face-to-face visits with family, or proper medical care, among other unacceptable conditions, the ACLU contends. They do, however, get subjected to excessive use of force and verbal abuse by guards, unusually high phone rates to call family, problems with the grievance system, and other perks, the ACLU alleges.

It's such stuff that led dozens of detainees to go on a hunger strike.

The immigration detainees are just supposed to be detained, not punished.

Or, as Pinal County detention chief James Kimble told Pratt last year, "Corrections, detention -- it's all the same thing."

The ACLU has alleged that this treatment of immigration detainees violates a standards, laws, and promises, like when the Obama administration announced immigration detention would be overhauled to a "truly civil detention system."

"[Conditions at the Pinal County Jail] violate the U.S. Constitution, as well as ICE's own National Detention Standards, and continue in spite of the Obama administration's pledge - honored mostly in the breach - to establish a truly civil system of immigration detention," the ACLU's letter to immigration-enforcement officials says. "The confinement of immigration detainees at PCJ, at least under current conditions, has no place in any system that aspires to civility."

The ACLU letter notes that the organization hopes everything can get fixed "without resort to legal action."

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Which is what Tom Metzger's wigmaker used to whisper in his ear.


No problems in that jail. Babeu took his top three jail commanders to St. Louis last June.  They were given the "100% Accreditation" award for jails; first agency to ever get the award. This was the same conference where Babeu got his heralded "sheriff of the year" award. Remember, he needed to have his honor guard flown in to post the national colors for his award ceremony. (Perhaps they don't have police honor guards in Missouri. If you get an award, you bring your own? A national conference of sheriffs and no one could come up with an honor guard? Hey, let's use some jail enhancement money and call it even.) He's worrying about things like showmanship and can't be bothered by jail rules and realities. Ask Babeu and his jail team what that "100% Accreditation" means (if anything), since the jail problems in this article were happening before the award and have continued since the award. No difference between corrections and detention?  These words are from Chief Kimble who was hired by Babeu from the CORRECTIONS industry. Why worry about foreign concepts like, detention? Chief Kimble (conference attendee and award winner) is the one who submitted to Pinal County a reimbursement claim for his taxi fare when he went to the Anheiser-Busch brewery. As far as catch and release being a better idea, Babeu would oppose that. He has strongly stated in the media that he needs those beds filled with federal detainees. He needs the money. He has claimed he would have to lay off jailers if PCSO lost the federal contract. Better decide what is important, sheriff. You (the county, since you never pay) is looking at a high pricetag on your continuing mismanagement. 


And there it is... More verification of an mcso officer arrogantly putting his bigotry and prejudices into play. No wonder these kinds of situations keep occuring when those that are supposed to "protect and serve" inject their own justice into the system due to the callous disregard for the rights of those they are policing.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

They might as well catch and release them, cost them less money and much better for the humans.


Don't go to bed, with no price on your head No, no, don't do it. Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time, Yeah, don't do it. And keep your eye on the sparrow. When the going gets narrow. etc. etc.   

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