The United States government has placed detained immigrants in solitary confinement more than 14,000 times in the past five years, and the average duration is nearly double that, to 15 days threshold According to the United Nations, it may constitute torture a new analysis of federal files by researchers at Harvard and the nonprofit group Physicians for Human Rights.
The report, based on government files from 2018 to 2023 and interviews with several dozen former detainees, cites cases of extreme physical, verbal and sexual abuse of immigrants held in solitary cells. The New York Times reviewed the original records cited in the report, spoke to the data analysts and interviewed former detainees to corroborate their stories.
In total, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is detaining more than 38,000 people, an increase of about 15,000 according to an independent firm at the start of the Biden administration in January 2021 tracking system maintained by Syracuse University. A growing proportion of detainees are being held private prison facilities There are few opportunities for accountability, and preliminary data from 2023 suggests a “significant increase” in the use of solitary confinement, according to the report.
An ICE spokesman, Mike Alvarez, said in a statement that 15 facilities monitor ICE detention facilities to “ensure that detainees are housed in safe, secure and humane environments and under appropriate detention conditions.” He added that detained immigrants can file complaints about facilities or staff behavior by telephone or through the Homeland Security inspector general.
“Placement of detainees in segregation requires careful consideration of alternatives, and placement in administrative segregation due to special vulnerability should only be used as a last resort,” he said, using the agency’s terminology for solitary confinement. “Segregation will never be used as a retaliatory measure.”
ICE issued guidelines in 2013 and 2015 limiting…