Multi-Individual Complaint – Etowah County Detention Center

PRESS CONTACT: Christina Mansfield, Co-Executive Director of CIVIC
CMansfield@endisolation.org | 385-212-4842
 
WATCHDOG & FORMER IMMIGRANT DETAINEE FILE MASS CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT, ALLEGING PHYSICAL ABUSE BY FEDERAL AGENTS AND INHUMANE CONDITIONS AT THE ETOWAH COUNTY DETENTION CENTER
 
Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a national advocacy organization, filed the complaint on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, calling for ICE to terminate its contract for the Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama
 
Gadsden, AL- Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) has filed a formal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties on behalf of 20 men who are currently detained or who have been detained at the Etowah County Detention Center (ECDC). The complaint alleges that three Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have been engaged in on-going physical abuse of ICE detainees, intimidation, and additional violations. It also references one Etowah County Sheriff’s deputy.
 
Etowah County contracts with the federal government to detain approximately 300 men daily in exchange for $45 per person per day at ECDC. These men are not being charged with a crime; rather, they are being held in a form of civil confinement due to their immigration status. The complaint specifically alleges abuse by ICE officers against immigrant detainees, staffing shortages and negligence on the part of Etowah County sheriff’s deputies, the indefinite detention of certain individuals in violation of Supreme Court precedent, at least one case of gross medical neglect, and inadequate food.
 
Complainants are 20 people in detention who reported on conditions in the Etowah County Detention Center to CIVIC staff between November 2013 and the present. Two of the individuals have been released recently from immigration detention and are stating their allegations publicly, Sylvester Owino and Miguel Williamson. CIVIC has protected the identities of the remaining complainants, many of whom fear reprisal. CIVIC also has protected the identities of the ICE Officers who have been accused of misconduct and abuse.
 
CIVIC is calling for the contract between ICE and Etowah County to be immediately terminated and for an independent investigation into the issues documented in the complaint.
 
“We are calling for the termination of ICE’s contract with ECDC because both the jail staff and ICE officers at the facility have demonstrated they are incapable of ensuring the safety of people detained,” says Christina Mansfield, Co-Director of CIVIC. “I believe the men detained at ECDC experience a blatant disregard for human life every day that is achieved by the jail and ICE staff labeling them as other, as immigrant and criminal, and thus as less deserving of dignity and respect.”
 
“We are not going to stop until this is done,” says Sylvester Owino, who last month travelled back to Alabama for the first time since his release to participate in the National Day Laborers Organizing Network’s event, Chant Down the Walls, outside of the Etowah County Detention Center.
 

 
Click here to access a copy of the complaint.
 
And join us in the call to Shut Down Etowah!
 
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Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is a national nonprofit working to end the isolation and abuse of people in U.S. immigration detention through visitation, independent monitoring, storytelling, and advocacy. CIVIC supports a network of visitation programs operating at 40 immigration detention facilities nationwide, including at the Etowah County Detention Center. To learn more, visit www.endisolation.org.