Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Schriro's Report Finally Released

Exciting news! Dora Schriro's report, a comprehensive review of the ICE detention system, has finally been released. To see the full text of the report, click here. To see ICE's press release, click here, and for ICE's fact sheet, click here. To see a New York Times article on the report, click here.

So what's in the report? Here's a key quote: "The Report describes the policy, human capital, informational, and management challenges associated with the rapid expansion of ICE’s detention capacity from fewer than 7,500 beds in 1995 to over 30,000 today, without the benefit of tools for population forecasting, management, on-site monitoring, and central procurement."

Schriro recognizes that the immigration detention system is supposed to be administrative, not punitive. However, as she says, currently the system relies almost completely on jails and prisons and therefore needs to be realigned with its administrative purposes. The report includes recommendations on seven components of detention that ICE must address: Population Management, Alternatives to Detention, Detention Management, Programs Management, Medical Care, Special Populations, and Accountability.

I am very glad to see this report made available to the public, and its recommendations are quite good overall. The recommendations may not go as far as we would like. We would like to be sure that detainees receive due process. We would like to see the creation of real community-based alternative to detention programs. We would like to see gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons included in the definition of vulnerable populations. And we would like to see codification of detention standards to ensure that they are enforceable. Still, this is an important document that - if fully implemented in a timely manner - could ensure that some of the most severe human and civil rights violations in the detention system are corrected.

The real question is on implementation. Unfortunately, Schriro is no longer with ICE. The ICE fact sheet gives a brief timeline for the implementation of different components of the reforms. Starting now, Napolitano and Morton need to make good on their release of the Schriro report by carrying out immediate steps to prove their commitment to implement these reforms.

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