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Secretary Napolitano, ICE Assistant Secretary Morton Announce New Immigration Detention Reform Initiatives

October 12, 2009

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton announced new initiatives October 6 aimed at enhancing the security and efficiency of ICE’s nationwide detention system while prioritizing the health and safety of detainees.

The reform efforts address the seven major components of the detention system outlined in a review conducted by Dora Schriro, the former ICE Office of Detention Policy and Planning Director, over the past several months, focusing on greater federal oversight, specific attention to detainee care, and uniformity at detention facilities:

  • To better manage all detainee populations, ICE will centralize all contracts under ICE headquarters’ supervision and aggressively monitor and enforce contract performance in order to ensure contractors comply with terms and conditions—especially those related to conditions of confinement.

  • To advance the effective use of alternatives to detention (ATD), ICE will develop an assessment tool to identify aliens suitable for ATD and will submit a plan to Congress this fall to implement an ATD program nationwide. ICE will continue to work with the Department of Justice to expedite the adjudication of ATD cases to reduce costs.

  • To better manage detention operations, ICE will develop a risk assessment and custody classification, which will enable detainees to be placed in an appropriate facility.

  • To better manage special populations and improve program management, ICE will house non-criminal, non-violent populations, such as newly arriving asylum seekers, at facilities commensurate with risk and expand programs available including legal support services.

  • To enhance detainee medical care, ICE will devise and implement a medical classification system that will improve awareness of an individual detainee’s medical and mental health conditions from the time the individual first enters detention.

  • To ensure accountability and reduce reliance on contractors, ICE will more than double the number of federal personnel providing onsite oversight at the facilities where the majority of detainees are housed. ICE will also accelerate efforts to provide an online search system for attorneys, family members and others to locate detained aliens.

Each of the reforms is expected to be budget neutral or result in cost savings through reduced reliance on contractors to perform key federal duties and additional oversight of all contracts.